BEIJING, Oct. 12 -- At the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will pay an official visit to China from October 12-14 and will also attend the meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Member States.
Putin's visit, for the 14th regular prime ministers' meeting between the two countries, is scheduled to implement the agreements reached in June in Russia. And the two parties will also exchange views on bilateral ties as well as on international and regional issues of common concern. Both sides are expected to sign a number of bilateral cooperation documents ranging from energy, mining, power generation to finance and telecommunication.
Prior to Putin's trip, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan is holding the fifth conference of bilateral energy negotiations with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, and the 13th meeting of a joint commission for the regular prime ministers' meeting with his Russian counterpart Alexander Zhukow, in Beijing Sunday and Monday, respectively. During the same period, State Councilor Liu Yandong will attend the 10th session of a China-Russia committee on humanitarian cooperation with Zhukow in Dalian, Northeast Liaoning province. So "energy dialog" and "humanitarian cooperation" are two important components for the bilateral talks.
Compared with the excellent China-Russia ties in political area, bilateral business cooperation is lagging behind. So leaders of the two countries have been taking every occasion to enhance bilateral economic cooperation with focus on energy.
China and Russia signed a package of cooperation agreements in February, which included a pipeline construction project, a long-term crude oil trading deal and a financing plan. In June, a memorandum on delivery of Russian natural gas to China was signed. Energy cooperation, including nuclear energy, has become an important component of China-Russia strategic partnership and economic and trade cooperation.
It is reported that during Putin's visit, Gazprom, the world's largest producer of natural gas, would sign a supplement agreement of strategic cooperation on energy with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), intending to substantially increase natural gas export to China. In 2006, Gazprom and CNPC had negotiated on providing China natural gas produced in Siberia and Sakhalin Island, but failed as no consensus was reached on the price. The agreement may become effective during the new round talks.
Russia holds abundant oil and natural gas reserves of 13 percent and 34 percent of the world's total. For years thanks to declining investment, aging equipment, higher transportation costs and domestic energy tax rate, Russia's energy industry is facing serious difficulty. Therefore, boosting China-Russia energy cooperation could be helpful for developing Russia's energy industry as well as promoting its economic revival. With a high growth rate of crude oil import, closer energy cooperation could also ensure China's future energy supply security.
It may be mentioned that the international financial crisis had driven China and Russia to closer economic cooperation, characterized by the common proposal to integrate Russia's "Far East Development" and China's "Northeast Rejuvenation".
The year 2009 is the Year of Russian Language in China, and 2010, the Year of Chinese Language in Russia, with both states hosting a string of exhibitions and cultural programs to promote people-to-people understanding and exchanges, especially friendship among the youth.
Putin is also scheduled to attend a grand ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of China-Russia diplomatic ties and the closing ceremony of the "Year of the Russian Language". China and Russia are strategic cooperative partners and the partnership has reached unprecedented levels in recent years. The two countries should carry forward the concept of peace in fostering friendship from generation to generation and never view each other with hostility, as stated in the Sino-Russian Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation signed in 2001.
The two sides will also exchange views on a series of major regional and international issues, such as denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and United Nations reform, and strengthen strategic cooperation and joint efforts for promoting multi-polarization and democratization of international relations.
Putin will attend the eighth meeting of heads of government of SCO member states to carry forward the Yekaterinburg Declaration signed at the June SCO summit. The declaration aims to further boost regional cooperation in the areas of politics, security, economy and culture, and work together to tackle the global financial crisis.
The author is researcher with the Research Center of Contemporary World.