Meeting yesterday in St. Petersburg for the 21st Regular Meeting of Russian and Chinese Heads of Government, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev laid out a vision of “win-win” cooperation, to strengthen their strategic partnership through a stunning array of bilateral cooperation agreements.
Following their private discussions, the two leaders were joined by cabinet-level ministers and deputy ministers, as well as CEOs of major Russian firms, who signed agreements with Chinese government officials. Energy (including nuclear), trade and investment, science and technology, culture, infrastructure building, and security/anti-terrorism cooperation were just some of the areas in which cooperation agreements were signed.
“We have discussed practically all key issues of economic, investment, and social cooperation between our countries,” Medvedev said in the press conference following the bilateral meeting. “Russia and China are bound by strategic partnership and cooperation. We are truly friends. We share a common approach to many global issues,” work together in many multilateral organizations—the United Nations, G20, BRICS, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), “and [we] implement large projects, including the alignment of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road Economic Belt.”
The regular meetings held between the two heads of government, Medvedev said, “are really quite original, in the sense that we have no such mechanism in place with any other country. They fulfill the very important function of giving concrete substance to our relations and offer us the opportunity to discuss promising projects as part of our comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation.”
In an interview with TASS published Nov. 6, Li Keqiang echoed Medvedev’s sentiment, emphasizing that China’s and Russia’s collaboration in organizations such as APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation), BRICS, and G-20, “has major importance in promoting sustainable recovery of the global economy, improving global economic management, and building an innovation-based, dynamic, interdependent, and inclusive global economy.” As members of the UN Security Council, he added, both are making major efforts to ensure that the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and “basic rules of international relations” are respected, “to find political solutions to the pressing international and regional problems, and to promote a more fair and balanced world order.”
As a sign of the depth of their cooperation, the Russian Prime Minister announced that he and Li agreed to set up a fifth inter-governmental commission that will deal with cooperation between Russia’s Far East and China’s northeastern region. In his remarks to TASS, Li had emphasized the importance of going beyond the governmental level to expanding cooperation at the interregional level. The establishment of this new commission, Medvedev said, “is evidence of the extent of our practical cooperation. The global economic situation is far from straightforward today, and this has affected our bilateral balance too. We have prepared a large package of documents that reflect the current state of relations in our partnership and signal new stages in developing the trade, economic, social, and humanitarian ties between our countries.”
Li affirmed that trade and economic cooperation between the two governments will be “comprehensively developed. It is necessary to take measures to restore and expand bilateral trade, and at the same time encourage mutual investments and production cooperation.” China welcomes, he said, investments of “strong enterprises from Russia… It is important to establish the guiding role of major strategic projects,” and at the same time support participation of small and medium-sized companies.