World / SCO Summit

Plans for stronger economic corridor moving forward

By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily) Updated: 2015-07-11 07:45

Plans for stronger economic corridor moving forward

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Ufa, Russia, July 10, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

Projects that will boost infrastructure development in Mongolia and further the nation's economic cooperation with China and Russia were the focus of discussions by the country's leaders on the sidelines of the 15th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit.

President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj co-hosted the summit in Ufa, Russia, and approved a cooperative blueprint on Thursday.

Analysts said the trilateral teamwork has "taken off at a great speed" since the first summit was held last September.

According to the plans, the countries will study joint financing of railway construction projects within lesser-developed Mongolia and modernization of railways in Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital.

They also will study measures to boost railway shipments through Ulaanbaatar, and consider the establishment of a joint railway shipment and logistic company, according to the cooperative road map, which was released on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website on Friday.

The three countries also will explore the prospect of building a regional flight hub at the Ulaanbaatar international airport.

Zhong Feiteng, an expert on international relations and Northeast Asian affairs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the trilateral teamwork was a reflection of the "fast-growing mutual trust between China and Russia in the past year".

More trust between Beijing and Moscow "will free Mongolia from the trouble of taking sides", Zhong said.

Plans for stronger economic corridor moving forward

China and Russia already have deals for oil and gas pipelines traversing China-Russia borders, and the road map provides the potential for feasibility studies of a China-Russia crude oil pipeline going through Mongolia.

Following the summit, the three signed a memorandum of understanding for drafting plans for construction of a "China-Russia-Mongolia Economic Corridor", which was first mentioned by Xi at last year's summit.

This time, Xi talked about China's Belt and Road Initiative and those proposed by Russia and Mongolia, and suggested closer links among the three to boost the construction of the economic corridor.

Pang Zhongying, dean of the School of International Studies at Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, told China Daily that the further construction of the economic corridor "signifies major progress and a breakthrough" for the northward route of the Silk Road Economic Belt, and "also serves Mongolia's interest in the geopolitical context".

Through the enhanced trilateral framework, Mongolia, a landlocked nation surrounded by China and Russia, could improve its connection to the world and boost its foreign relations, Pang said.

Since Mongolia is a weak link in the economy of Northeast Asia, beefing up its infrastructure and connectivity will help, Pang said.

Zhong said that although Mongolia has tried to seek more support, both strategically and economically, from other governments, including the European Union and Japan, the results have been limited.

He said the latest initiatives likely will result in a ripple effect in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, which are also part of China's Belt and Road Initiative.

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