China and Russia to deepen ties on key issues
China and Russia have signed a deal to set up a US$4 billion joint investment fund yesterday as Russian President Vladimir Putin kicked off a three-day visit to Beijing.
Putin's visit comes as the two countries seek to counterbalance the geopolitical clout of the United States in Asia and to bolster their joint stance on Syria.
President Hu Jintao and Putin, on his first Asian trip since his re-election, signed a declaration pledging to further develop both nations' strategic partnership. They also pledged to deepen military exchanges and strengthen co-ordination in Asia-Pacific, and co-operate on investments.
However, no deal was reached on plans to send large quantities of Russian natural gas to China. Negotiations were riven over pricing.
Hu said both sides were committed to bilateral ties as their top diplomatic priority.
'We've had in-depth exchange of views concerning promoting bilateral ties and international issues of common concern. We have reached consensus on a wide range of issues,' Hu told reporters following talks with Putin. 'We will strengthen mutual support, co-operation and our long-term friendship. We will strengthen strategic co-ordination in international issues, better promoting the development of both countries and stability in the region and the world.'
On his part, Putin said the bilateral strategic partnership had reached a 'historic height'. 'We have shared common interests in a lot of areas, including co-ordination in international issues, economic co-operation and technological exchanges,' Putin said.
Putin, who came to China just weeks after cancelling a visit to the US, is due to attend the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation summit today.
Russia and China, seen as close allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have defied calls by world leaders to confront Syria's regime over its crackdown on anti-regime protesters who are demanding freedom. Both nations say foreign intervention should not be allowed.
On Friday, the two countries voted against a resolution condemning Syria's massacre of more than 100 civilians in the cluster of villages known as Houla and called for an independent probe.
'Both sides will seek to deepen co-ordination in multilateral bodies, such as the United Nations, G20, Shanghai Co-operation Organisation and among the BRICS countries [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa],' Putin said.
In an article yesterday in People's Daily, China's party mouthpiece, Putin said Russia and China shared the same stance on various world issues. It, he said, was built on the basis that 'both sides will unconditionally respect the core interest of the other side'.
'All politicians with a clear mind, and all economic and world affairs experts should be aware that no international issue can be discussed and enacted without the involvement of Russia and China, and taking consideration of the interest of both countries,' Putin wrote.
In remarks to reporters following his talks with Hu, the Russian leader said both nations would develop a co-operation platform in Asia based on equality, and to continue their military exchanges.
Although Chinese officials earlier expressed hopes for a breakthrough on the natural gas deal, both sides failed to reach an agreement. However, they signed deals to promote trade and investment ties.
One of the deals involves China Investment Corporation (CIC) and the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Each will contribute US$1 billion to set up a fund to support firms in various industries, such as logistics and technological exchange.
'This is a very important step for ... co-operation between both countries,' said Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
The joint investment fund aims to double its assets to US$4 billion by raising additional funds from third-party global investors, CIC said.
On the issue of energy, Hu and Putin said both countries were committed to co-operation, including in areas such as nuclear energy. Putin will meet Premier Wen Jiabao today.