Last Stand for Russia in China Gas Talks

During a trip to Beijing this week, , who is preparing to again assume the position of Russian President, met with China’s leaders but failed to secure a huge, long-term gas deal, Reuters reports:

Observers never tire of saying that , the world’s largest energy producer, and China, the fastest-growing energy market, are a match made in heaven.

But after years of a stalemate in talks between Gazprom and Chinese National Petroleum Corp. , China could be ready to move on, said Mikkal Herberg, research director of energy security at the National Bureau of Asian Research in Washington.

[…] “Practically any company other than Gazprom would normally be worrying about losing the market opportunity in China gas long-term and be adjusting their strategy accordingly.”

As Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in Beijing this week, put a brave face on another failure to close a gas deal with China, the Central Asian state of Turkmenistan got an upgrade to the reserves at its South Iolotan field.

The Time Magazine blog looks at various issues that have complicated the Moscow-Beijing relationship:

Ahead of Putin’s China visit, some $7 billion in trade deals were discussed, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. (China is now Russia’s top trading partner, and trade will likely surpass $70 billion this year.) Further economic cooperation is expected to be finalized during Putin’s China stop—the Russian Prime Minister’s first trip abroad since he announced a controversial leadership plan in which he would try to reclaim the more important title of President next year.

But as the relatively muted words of Xinhua—only a “balanced world” and “pragmatic policies,” not “relations at an all-time high” or some other usual superlative?—portend, relations between Moscow and Beijing are complicated. Even though China has succeeded in securing natural resources across the globe, a giant gas deal with Russia, with which it shares a long border, has foundered. Then there’s the small matter of a Chinese who is being accused by Moscow of trying to obtain classified information on a Russian surface-to-air missile system. Even though the alleged Chinese spy has been held by Russian intelligence services for a year, information about his case was released by Moscow just last week—peculiar timing given that Putin would soon be jaunting off to Beijing.

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