GP Insights # 65, 12 June 2019
On 5 May 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived for a three days state visit to Moscow. Xi attended the 23rd St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) with Russia on the theme “Creating a Sustainable Developing Agenda” and also visited Moscow Zoo for a ceremony of welcoming a pair of Chinese giant pandas, male RuYi and female Ding Ding on Wednesday.
On 6 June 2019, both the country attended the ceremony at which Xi’s was presented with an honorary degree from St. Petersburg State University at St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
On 7 June 2019, both the countries attended the Russia- China energy business forum.
Both the country used St. Petersburg as a platform not only to discuss the relationship but also about the future globally.
What is the background?
The former communal rivals are seen to be drawing closer in recent years. The Second Belt and Road Initiative Summit held in Beijing on 25 - 27 April 2019 has been a driving force to the economic development in the two countries because Russia role in the BRI is considered as important by the Chinese officials.
A three days state visit to Moscow, Xi Jinping called Russian President Vladimir Putin as his “close friend” as they had met nearly 30 times over the last six years. With both countries facing mounting tensions with the US. Russia emphasized that both countries are at the same position when it comes to global issues like North Korea nuclear progress, the crisis in Venezuela and Iran’s nuclear deal with the US, where both oppose the world power.
What does it mean?
The deteriorating relationships of both the countries with the world power made the countries to move closer together. Beijing is engaged with escalating trade conflicts with the US and this led to in search of a new trading partner leading China to turn to Russia as a new trading partner. Russia's trade with China reached the US $180 billion in 2018. And now, they made several business deals which includes the launching of a Chinese car factory in the South of Moscow and allow the controversial Chinese tech giant Huawei to develop a 5G network in Moscow by the Russian telecoms company MTS. Xi’s three days state visit was not all about defence and trade talks but also includes China’s panda diplomacy .
Moscow is the tenth largest trading partner for China. For Russia, Beijing is the top trading partner. Bilaterally, both countries need each other for political and economic development. Russia is far more ahead in technology which China is purchasing it. Also, Russia needs Chinese money. The Belt and Road Initiative will be the connecting factor for both the countries, they agreed to promote the implementation of major strategic projects and engage in more activities like in education, culture, sports, tourism, media and youth areas will be launched to bring people together. Thus, both countries are ready to work together to make a high level and better cooperation in the future.
The frequent visit of both the countries will build a stronger bond but this built in the moments of crisis is to overcome the challenges that both have been facing with the US. For Russia, this will be a great opportunity to compete with the two great powers the China and the US. China sees Russia as the second best, but their priority is mainly focused on the US.