Eye on China: Xi-Putin’s New Era – India’s Trade – Tiananmen@30 – Trump’s Threat – Indo-Pacific Report

Eye on China is a weekly newsletter offering news and analysis related to the Middle Kingdom. This week we cover Xi’s visit to Russia, the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the US’ new Indo-Pacific Strategy, India’s growing trade ties with China and much more.

I. A New Era Partnership

Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to Russia this week for a landmark visit. First, the visit commemorates the 70th anniversary of Sino-Russian relations. Second  it builds on deepening ties between the two countries amid “profound changes” in the international order “not seen in the past century.”

This is Xi’s eighth visit to the country since assuming the presidency in 2013. Xi underscored the significance of the visit, referring to Vladimir Putin as one of his “closest friends.” He added that under their guidance, “Chinese-Russian relations have reached an unprecedentedly high level.” Here are the remarks by Xi and Putin during the joint press conference. Thereafter, the two leaders also met in St. Petersburg.

Both leaders signed two key statements on elevating bilateral ties to the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era and strengthen contemporary global strategic stability. The first one calls on the two sides to closely coordinate in order to align their development strategies to tap the full potential of bilateral ties. It also underscores the important role of the two heads of state. The second one refers more directly to the global situation, i.e., the changing approach of the United States. It says that “the current international security is facing serious challenges” requiring the two sides to work together to “firmly safeguard global and regional strategic stability.”

“China and Russia note with alarm the extremely dangerous actions of certain states that, out of their own geopolitical and even commercial benefits, destroy or adapt the existing system of arms control and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to their needs…Both sides urged actively promoting the three pillars — nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and peaceful use of nuclear energy.”

Here’s a round-up of the visit from the Chinese perspective.

Key Highlights:

  • A measure of how close the two sides are growing was Putin echoing Chinese rhetoric about the US attempting to “spread its jurisdiction to the entire world.”
  • Sino-Russian bilateral trade is at $108 billion, growing 25% last year largely courtesy energy prices. The next target is $200 billion.
  • But new cooperation projects are underway in energy (i.e., the most significant, most fruitful and most wide-ranging area), transportation, agriculture, aviation and space.
  • Russia and China intend to focus on conducting financial transactions in their national currencies. Putin was rather forthrightabout revisiting the role of the dollar in international trade. One way to do so could be for Russia to sell yuan bonds.
  • Both sides seek better coordination between and integration of BRI and the Eurassian Economic Union.
  • Tass reports that some 30 inter-governmental and commercial agreements have been signed. The total value of the deals inked is pegged at $20 billion. These deals covered areas such as nuclear power, natural gas, automobiles, hi-tech development, e-commerce and 5G communications.
  • 2020 and 2021 have been designated as years of cooperation in research, technology and innovation.
  • Huawei’s inked a 5G deal with Russian telecoms firm MTS.
  • Both sides view unilateralism and protectionism as a challenge and will seek to enhance coordination at fora like the UN, SCO, BRICS, APEC, G20, etc.
  • Xi and Putin both pledged their support for the JCPOA deal with Iran. Also discussed were VenezuelaNorth Korea and cooperation in the Arctic.
  • China has gifted Russia two pandas – Ru Yi and Ding Ding.

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