Russian and Chinese economies complement each other perfectly
Kirill Babaev
National flags of Russia and China. /CFP
National flags of Russia and China. /CFP

National flags of Russia and China. /CFP

Editor's note: Kirill Babaev is the Acting Director of the Institute of China and Modern Asia at the Russian Academy of Sciences, and a member of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC). The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

On March 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The meeting was anticipated to be of a protocol nature and be limited to typical statements on a comprehensive strategic partnership and everlasting friendship. However, the meeting proved to have been thoroughly prepared in terms of content. The leaders discussed many precise initiatives that are essential for Russia's economy.

It was a genuinely constructive meeting. In February 2022, the leaders of Russia and China published a statement, establishing the principles of interaction and presenting a common perspective on basic concepts of the world order. Nowadays this foundation is guiding the bilateral partnership. It has raised very specific issues, projects, and industries in which Russia and China interact and plan to boost cooperation. It is now time to implement these intentions, but at least the fact that both presidents are committed to a profound and concrete partnership is obvious to the whole world.

The mutual statement covered the main spheres for further interaction. Energy cooperation will obviously expand. The leaders have discussed it many times, and the projects have already been launched. The Power of Siberia 2 and the new Soyuz-Vostok gas pipeline will increase trade in gas as well as agreements between Rosneft and CNPC which will bolster oil supplies. However, it is noteworthy that the statement also indicated the main problem areas of bilateral relations, such as logistics, payments in national currencies, localization of production, and e-commerce. These are issues that require the serious participation of both governments, an impetus for business and enhanced regulatory environment. The launch of these, and their transformation into real projects, will very quickly allow Russia and China to create a powerful infrastructure independent of external pressure, which will promote future trade and economic interaction in general.

People wave to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping's motorcade in Moscow, Russia, March 21, 2023. /CFP
People wave to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping's motorcade in Moscow, Russia, March 21, 2023. /CFP

People wave to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping's motorcade in Moscow, Russia, March 21, 2023. /CFP

The Russian and Chinese economies complement each other well today. They are like two halves of a puzzle that fit together perfectly. Russia needs components and equipment, machine tools and industrial goods to be independent of Western imports and fill the gaps that have opened up after the departure of Western companies. Because of this mutual "necessity," China-Russia cooperation is mutually beneficial. However, it is important for Russia that Chinese corporations not only import goods, but also produce them in Russia, and this was emphasized in the joint statement.

Today, not only are raw materials important to China, but also other Russian products. For example, agriculture was mentioned separately in the leaders' statement. China is very interested in the products of the Russian agricultural industry. During the extended negotiations, a document was even signed on the creation of a separate directorate that will deal with soybeans. This is a giant market. It is very good that this was given extra momentum at the leaders' meeting.

Secondly, the Chinese market is interested in Russia's chemical products, which are unstable if exported to the West. Therefore, Russia's interests with China also coincide here – the Chinese market is very important for Russian chemists.

Finally, petroleum products and petrochemicals are equally important. It is important that the construction of plants to produce petroleum products takes place on Russia's territory, in the Siberian and Far Eastern regions, to meet the demands of the Chinese market, but at the same time providing tax revenues to the Russian budget.

Today, leaders from China and Russia are looking at the medium-term perspective, and cooperation plans already cover the entire current decade. It is very important for China to look to the future with a sense of stability and confidence. Current relations between Russia and China give us all such an opportunity.

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