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China-Russia ties get 'even better'

By Zhao Shengnan in Moscow | China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-22 03:21

The "very good" relations between China and Russia need to be taken to a higher level, a senior Russian official said.

The importance of the ties is an area of universal consensus in Russia, Andrey Denisov, Russia's first deputy minister of foreign affairs, said.

"What we have is very good, effective and unique, but now it's just not enough," he said.

Denisov was speaking during an exclusive interview with China Daily shortly before President Xi Jinping's arrival in Moscow on Friday in his first foreign trip as head of State.

Beijing said the landmark visit, a week after Xi became president, shows the special nature of the relationship and will see agreements struck on oil and a natural gas pipeline.

"I don't expect anything sensational. And honestly, I think both side don't need them. What we want to see, and what we are sure we will have, is the progressive, sustainable and dynamic development of bilateral relations in all areas," he said.

Not an alliance

Denisov, who had worked in China for about 10 years, said one of the most important lessons he has learned in his diplomatic career in China is that relations should be "pragmatic".

He rejected the so-called Russia-China alliance, saying the countries are united by their "common interests, shared values and similar approaches to international affairs".

The concept of an "alliance" stemmed from China and Russia having a common front on various global issues, including Syria and the Korean Peninsula.

Western observers view closer China-Russia ties as evidence of a shared interest in countering the US-led Western alliance's domination of global affairs.

The time of the world being led by locked political and military blocs has passed, Denisov said.

Even though Russia and China do share the basic principles of international law and the United Nations charter, "We are not a couple or a family, we are two different countries with our own national interests," he said.

"We don't need an 'alliance' in any sense of that word, but we need cooperation, and it should be comprehensive."

Annual China-Russia trade grew more than 11 percent in 2012 from $88.16 billion. It is expected to hit $100 billion in 2015 and $200 billion in 2020, a target set last year.

Denisov said Russia will get better equipped to welcome more high-level investment from China, especially in its Far East region.

"Russia wants to be more active and to raise the profile of economic cooperation in East Asia. China is a natural and leading partner there," said Denisov, citing potential cooperation in the fields of energy, electricity, metal and wood processing.

Russia will continue improving its investment environment to make enterprises feel "comfortable and protected", he said.

"I especially want to support small and medium-sized businesses in the border regions.

"Nothing is fixed. We must strive to achieve good results. Russia and China must be frank with each other and help each other. This is also an objective we want to see during Xi's visit,"he said.

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