Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Sino-Russian stable relations

By Victor Larin (China Daily) Updated: 2013-01-07 07:42

I would like to evaluate the relations between Russia and China in 2012 in the context of the last 10 years and their projection into the future, as well as looking at them through the prism of global problems, on the one hand, and the interests of Russia, on the other.

Sino-Russian bilateral interaction has two solid foundations: The first is the relationship in the sphere of "high politics", that is between the heads of state and top-level officials. The second is cross-border and inter-regional relations.

For two decades the relationship based on the foundation of high politics has continually demonstrated a very high political standard, sometimes to the detriment of practical results. It was a sign of the strength of this foundation that Vladimir Putin visited China soon after he was re-elected as Russian president.

Since the 1990s, Russia and China have successfully coordinated their approaches to key issues concerning the modern world order and major international issues. Russia and China have repeatedly demonstrated that they have similar approaches to addressing the key issues concerning the world order and major international problems, as well as the ability to defend their interests. The two countries hold the same or similar positions on global issues such as the UN Security Council reform, global economic governance, climate change, food security and energy security and addressing regional hot-spot issues including the tension on the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue, Syria and Afghanistan.

Although the "new security architecture", proclaimed by both sides in September 2010, might look fairly abstract to others, it could become a very strong pillar of Russia-China relations in the coming decades. "The higher the level of cooperation between our countries, the calmer our region is," said Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defense minister, during a meeting of an intergovernmental commission on military cooperation. I totally agree with him. In the extreme instability of the modern world, we all see what is happening in Europe, Africa, South Asia and even North America, stable and strategic relations between Russia and China have a special value. They are important not only for our two countries but also to the world.

Experts like to discuss the potential contradictions between Russia and China in Central Asia, but it is clear to me that their common desire is to prevent the United States strengthening its influence in the region, as well as the spread of radical Islam, and this far outweighs the potential for conflict between them.

As for Russia, the "China threat" well-marked in shaping Moscow's policy toward China and bilateral relations, disappears when it comes to international affairs. In the international arena China is a close friend and partner, at least up until now, especially in the face of, if not a common enemy, a shared aggravator, the US' desire to dominate forever and everywhere. That is the basic approach of the US' policies, which go against the interests of China and Russia.

The second foundation of Russia-China cooperation, cross-border and inter-regional relations, have little to do with interstate cooperation at the highest level, but are fueled by the vital interests of the people and businessmen living on both sides of very long border between the two countries.

I think it would be wrong to assess Sino-Russian relations on the basis of economic results only. Although economic relations are certainly important, especially for Russia, they are not the major issue. The major issue for Russia and China today is a peaceful and secure common border, peace and stability in the border regions - the Korean Peninsula and Central Asia - and the development of the peripheral border areas.

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