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China's exchanges and cooperation with Russia and the countries of Central Asia, and East, Central and West Europe have become closer than ever in recent years, with frequent exchange visits between their leaders, gradually improving dialogue mechanisms and continuously expanding two-way trade and investment.
The visits by China's leaders to Russia and some European countries in recent months, together with recent meetings between leaders of China and Central and East European nations as well as the recent summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization members are expected to bring China's cooperation with these countries closer.
With their traffic conditions improving, Eurasian countries enjoy increasingly obvious geographical advantages for economic and trade cooperation. The settlement of border issues between China and Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan has enhanced political trust between them. The continuous improvements in the SCO, China-EU Summit and the meeting mechanisms between leaders of China and Central and East European countries, as well as the various forms of partnerships established between China and these countries have also brought closer political ties, deepened their economic links and expanded their common interests.
Having experienced political and economic reforms, the situations in Russia, Central Asian and Central and East European nations have stabilized and the market mechanism has been gradually established. At the same time, their sustained economic growth, improvements in their consumption level as well as bettered investment environment have also boosted their desire for economic and trade cooperation with China.
West European countries are now in a period of industrial adjustments, which has increased their demand for China's wide market in their efforts to push for industrial transfer and technological cooperation with other countries. In the context of the global financial crisis, the meltdown of Europe's sovereign debt crisis and its deterioration has further curbed economic growth in the United States, Europe, Japan and other developed nations. Russia, and countries in Central Asia and Central and East Europe have also been affected. Deepening cooperation with a fast-growing China thus remains an advisable choice for these countries.
There is strong economic complementariness and enormous cooperation potential between China and Russia and countries in Central Asia and Central, East and West Europe. Their cooperation on a mutually beneficial, reciprocal and win-win basis will not only benefit the steady economic and social development of China, but will also be helpful to Asian and European nations and the world as a whole.
China should have a pragmatic and diversified approach in its push for westward opening-up. Besides importing resources-intensive products and exporting labor-intensive ones, China should try to expand the categories of traded commodities, raise the technological content and in particular, raise the ratio of capital and technology-intensive commodities. It should try to create a multilateral financial mechanism beneficial to the interests of multiple parties and work together with them for the optimization of the international monetary system.
With rich labor resources, China should try to export more labor to Russia and countries in Central Asia and Central and East Europe that suffer from labor shortages. While exporting to them matured manufacturing technologies and equipment, China should also try to import high technologies from them, especially from Russia, and deepen cooperation with them in high-end manufacturing, biomedicine and information technologies. It should also conduct technological cooperation with developed West European countries in energy conservation, low-carbon, environmental protection, clean energy and aerospace.
Due to their geographical proximity, China should try to strengthen cooperation with energy-rich Russia and Central Asian nations in oil and gas exploitation, pipeline construction and intensive processing in an effort to set up a unified energy supply system and maintain their energy security and sustainable development.
China's westward opening-up remains a long-term strategy and a favorable environment and institutional arrangements are needed to facilitate this process. It should give its northwestern and northeastern provinces and regions a bigger role in the efforts to promote cooperation with bordering Russia and Central Asian countries. At the same time, it should take advantage of the established political, economic and trade cooperative mechanisms to push forward dialogue with these countries for the establishment of a free border trade area with Russia, a free trade area with other SCO members as well as a free trade area with some West European nations. China should also encourage domestic enterprises to conduct investment in Eurasian nations and extend to these enterprises some funds and policy support.
In addition, high-level dialogue and consultations should be regularly held with these countries to expand their common ground and strengthen coordination. Cultural and personnel exchanges should be also conducted.
The author is a member of the Standing Committee of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and President of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
(China Daily 06/16/2012 page5)