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BILATERAL TIES

China bond with Russia keeps the peace: Xi

President does not mention US by name but Washington's increasing presence in Asia is reason for concern in Beijing and the Kremlin

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 March, 2013, 2:16pm

The bond between China and Russia is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world and provides "strategic balance to global order", President Xi Jinping said yesterday in an apparent reference to the United States' re-emergence in Asia.

Xi's remarks came on the second day of his trip to Moscow. The visit - his first trip abroad as president - has already secured a series of deals on energy and trade, and pledges to deepen the two nations' "strategic partnership". However, an ambitious deal on natural-gas supplies has not been finalised.

"Ties between China and Russia are some of the most important bilateral relations in the world," said Xi.

He added that the relationship itself was the "best among bilateral ties between major nations".

Xi told students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations that this helped guarantee "international strategic balance and peace".

Without naming any country, he added: "No single nation or group can dominate world's affairs on its own."

The trip highlights China's eagerness to foster closer ties with its neighbour. Both sides are concerned by the United States' moves to expand the number of ground-based, anti-ballistic missile interceptors deployed in the Asia-Pacific region.

Russia and China issued a joint declaration pledging deeper co-operation on energy, and Russia's top oil producer Rosneft will raise oil supply to China from 15 million tonnes to 31 million tonnes a year.

The negotiations on a plan for Russia to supply China with 68 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year for 30 years are still ongoing. Alexy Miller, chairman of Russia's Gazprom, said a legally binding document would likely be signed in June.

"It is still difficult for the two nations to finalise gas deals," said Tian Chunsheng, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Meanwhile, Xi told how his trip "had exceeded his expectations" in his talks with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev yesterday, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

The two countries undertook to boost bilateral trade from US$100 billion in 2015 to US$200 billion by 2020, use local currencies to settle investment and trade, and explore the possibility of setting up a development bank and foreign reserve pool.

On the political front, the two countries pledged to support each other in defending territorial sovereignty, and to oppose overthrowing the legitimate governments of other countries. They also opposed excessive expansion of anti-ballistic defences by a single nation or group.

In his remarks at the international relations institute, Xi said both nations would take care of each others' concerns. "We will not become a threat to each other," Xi said.

He called on nations to drop the "cold-war mentality" and refrain from interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries.

Xi also met Russia's State Duma chairman Sergei Naryshkin and became the first Chinese president to visit Russia's defence ministry.

Ni Lexiong , director of the sea power and defence policy research institute at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said the visit to the defence ministry indicated that the countries may step up military co-operation in response to close ties between the US and Japan.

Last night, Xi was scheduled to meet Chinese and sinologists living in the Russian capital.

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