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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Putin to Foster Growing Moscow-Beijing Trade in China’s Northeast

Russian President Vladimir Putin concluded a red-carpet visit to China on Friday, where he had sealed pledges of a “new era” of strategic partnership with Chinese President Xi Jinping. During his two-day visit, Putin emphasized the growing significance of trade near the Russian border in China’s northeast.

The visit culminated in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, known for its longstanding trade and cultural connections with Russia. Putin toured a Russian-China Expo and participated in a forum on interregional cooperation, underscoring the economic ties between the two nations.

Amid Russia’s political isolation and Western sanctions due to its invasion of Ukraine, Putin has increasingly looked to China for support in sustaining its economy during wartime. The joint statement signed by Putin and Xi during the state visit emphasized the “new era” of cooperation, encompassing a range of security, economic, and global issues, countering U.S. influence.

During their meetings, Xi expressed the importance of cherishing and nurturing the hard-earned China-Russia relationship, reflecting the deepening strategic partnership between the two countries.

“China is willing to… jointly achieve the development and rejuvenation of our respective countries, and work together to uphold fairness and justice in the world.”

The joint statement fleshes out the “no limits” partnership the two declared in February 2022, days before Putin sent tens of thousands of troops into neighbouring Ukraine, launching the deadliest land war in Europe since World War Two.

Beijing is helping Moscow’s war effort by providing drone and missile technology, satellite imagery and machine tools, U.S. officials said last month, although China says it has not provided weaponry to any party.

Russia’s isolation from other powers has fuelled its trade with China, which surged 26.3% last year to a record $240.1, Chinese customs data shows. Russia has overtaken Saudi Arabia as China’s top source of crude oil, with shipments jumping more than 24% despite Western sanctions.

An editorial in China’s state-controlled Global Times newspaper on Friday cited the importance of burgeoning trade ties to the wider relationship, saying China had been Russia’s largest trading partner for 13 straight years.

“These achievements are not easy and have been achieved by both countries overcoming various external challenges and unfavorable factors, highlighting the solid foundation of the China-Russia relationship,” the editorial said.

Putin is flanked by a large trade delegation, which includes Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina.

Others include the heads of Russia’s largest banks – Sberbank (SBER.MM), CEO German Gref and VTB (VTBR.MM), chief Andrei Kostin – billionaire Oleg Deripaska, top oil producer Rosneft (ROSN.MM),  chief Igor Sechin and liquefied natural gas giant Novatek’s boss, Leonid Mikhelson.

It was not immediately clear if Putin would make any further stops in Asia.

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