In Moscow, Xi and Putin Talk Bilateralism and Energy

On the first stop of his first trip abroad as China’s president, Xi Jinping met with Russian president Vladimir Putin today in Moscow. U.S. News reports on the grand welcome that met the Chinese head-of-state, and the implications that Sino-Russian cooperation could have on the global balance of power:

China’s new president received a lavish welcome Friday as he made Moscow his first foreign destination, joining with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a pointed attempt to counter U.S. influence in Asia.

Xi Jinping, who became president just last week, urged Russia to improve its foreign policy coordination to protect the two neighbors’ joint security interests — comments that appeared to seek Russia’s backing for his eagerness to reduce U.S. influence and challenge Japan over a set of disputed islands.

[…]Putin told the ITAR-Tass news agency that relations between Moscow and Beijing were helping to “shape a new, more just world order.” He added that Russia and China have shown a “balanced and pragmatic approach” to international crises — an apparent reference to their lockstep opposition to U.N. sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Xi, in turn, pointedly told Putin that he expects Russia to “strengthen coordination and interaction in tackling international and regional issues to ensure our common strategic security.”

China and Russia are founding members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an intergovernmental security organization often viewed as a counterbalance to NATO‘s influence in Asia.

An important topic of discussion between the two leaders was energy security and investment, and a number of agreements were made. Bloomberg Businessweek reports:

China agreed to double oil supplies and supported construction of a natural gas pipeline from Russia under “breakthrough” agreements during President Xi Jinping’s first state trip abroad.

OAO Rosneft, the world’s biggest traded oil producer by output, will borrow $2 billion from China Development Bank Corp., backed by 25 years of oil supplies, under accords signed today in the Kremlin. The Russian company also offered China National Petroleum Corp. access to Arctic resources, while OAO Gazprom said it plans to conclude a 30-year gas-supply contract to China by year end.

[…]Rosneft will boost oil supplies to China by 800,000 metric tons this year, Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin said after the signing with CNPC counterpart Zhou Jiping. Annual exports may climb to as much as 31 million tons, or more than 620,000 barrels a day, through three routes, from 15 million tons currently, he said. Russia has a spur to China from its East Siberia-Pacific Ocean link, and can send crude via its Kozmino port or through Kazakhstan.

Channel News Asia has more on energy agreements made in Moscow, and on others expected to come:

Earlier in the day Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yang oversaw the signing of a number of deals.

These agreements included a US$2 billion (1.5 billion euro) deal involving Russian energy firm En+ Group and China’s largest coal company Shenhua Group to develop coal resources in Russia’s Far East.

[…]Russia, which wants to diversify its energy markets away from Europe, needs to finalise a potentially huge gas deal which could eventually see almost 70 billion cubic metres of gas pumped to China annually for the next 30 years.

The Russian state’s natural gas giant Gazprom is likely to sign an agreement although not a firm contract, said company spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov.

China Daily reports on the leaders’ ongoing plans to encourage tourism between their countries, another means to strengthen bilateral ties discussed today in the Kremlin:

Later in the day, Xi and Putin are expected to attend the opening ceremony of the “Tourism Year of China” in Russia.

The “China-Russia Tourism Year,” which began last year with the “Tourism Year of Russia” in China, is the third theme year following the “China-Russia National Year” and the “China-Russia Year of Language” held in recent years.

Next on the agenda for Xi’s tour is Africa, where he’ll visit South Africa, the Republic of the Congo and Tanzania. The trip will include a stop at the BRICS Summit in Durban next week, where Putin will also be present.


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