The following is the full text of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s written interview with Russian media ahead of his departure for the July 3-4 state visit to Russia:
Written Interview by H.E. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, with Russian Media Organizations
Q1: You have often said that the relationship between China and Russia is at its best in history. Could you elaborate on that? How does timely dialogue and consultation on major international issues contribute to regional and global peace, stability and prosperity?
Xi: Indeed, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is now stronger than ever. Here is why I believe this is the case:
First, our two countries have built a high level of political and strategic trust. The boundary issue, which had been left from history, has been settled once and for all. Our 4,300-km border is now a bond of friendship for our people. The Treaty of Good-neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation has been signed, which established the idea of ever-lasting friendship in legal terms. The two sides have reached a four-point agreement on showing firm support for each other’s efforts to uphold one’s own sovereignty, security, territorial integrity and other core interests; for each other’s choice of development path suited to one’s national circumstances; for each other’s development and revitalization; and for each other’s management of one’s own affairs. In short, China and Russia see each other as a most trustworthy strategic partner.
Second, our two countries have established sound mechanisms for high-level exchanges and all-round cooperation. President Putin and I have developed a close working relationship and good personal friendship. The two of us meet frequently, five times a year on average, to set the direction and make plans for our bilateral relations. At President Putin’s invitation, I will pay a state visit to Russia. I believe my visit will lend new impetus to the growth of bilateral relations. Besides, the two sides have full-fledged mechanisms for inter-agency and sub-national engagement and consultation. All this has provided strong institutional underpinnings for the growth of China-Russia relations.
Third, our two sides are working hard to align our development strategies. President Putin and I have reached an important agreement to strengthen the complementarity of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union. Bilateral cooperation in energy, trade, investment, high-tech, finance, infrastructure and agriculture is growing rapidly and increasingly geared toward modernization and innovation in science and technology. The Tianwan nuclear power plant stands as a flagship program for our nuclear cooperation. The eastern route of the natural gas pipeline is progressing smoothly. Our active cooperation on major strategic projects such as the long-range, wide-body aircraft and heavy-lift helicopter is a boost to the comprehensive national strength and international competitiveness of both countries. The two sides are also tapping into new areas of cooperation, such as innovation and e-commerce. In a word, the booming practical cooperation serves as a powerful engine driving the sustained growth of China-Russia relations.
Fourth, our two countries enjoy solid public support for stronger relations. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the China-Russia Committee for Friendship, Peace and Development and the 60th anniversary of the Russia-China Friendship Association. It is also the concluding year of China-Russia Media Exchange Year 2016-2017, for which a variety of cultural events have been planned. Currently, there are over three million visits a year between the Chinese and Russians. For years, China has been Russia’s biggest source of foreign tourists. The two sides have established culture centers in each other’s country, built a joint university, and set the target of exchanging 100,000 students by 2020. Our peoples are fond of each other’s language and culture, and our mutual understanding and friendship are growing day by day. All of this speaks to the shared desire of both nations to develop the friendly and cooperative relations.
Fifth, our two countries enjoy close strategic coordination in regional and international affairs. As major countries in the world, permanent members of the UN Security Council and emerging economies, China and Russia both stand for the basic norms governing international relations with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter as the cornerstone. We both support progress toward a multi-polar world and greater democracy in international relations. We both resolutely uphold the outcomes of WWII and international fairness and justice. Our two countries have close coordination and collaboration in the United Nations, G20, APEC and other multilateral institutions. We have jointly proposed and set up various multilateral mechanisms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS and worked hard for their development, which contribute to peace and stability in Central Asia and Northeast Asia, which are our common neighborhood. The fact is, our concerted efforts in international affairs are like an anchor for peace, security and stability in our region and the world amidst the turbulent and volatile international situation. Thus, we are living up to our responsibility as major countries for world peace and development.
Looking ahead, we have every confidence in the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination. I will continue to work with President Putin to ensure that the relationship will make sound progress along the right track so as to promote the development and renewal of both our countries and contribute to the prosperity and stability of the world.
Q2: There is a view that China and Russia have far stronger political relations than economic relations. In your view, what can be done to boost economic ties between the two countries and what are the priority areas and projects?
Xi: President Putin and I both attach great importance to promoting bilateral economic ties. Economic cooperation and trade is the most wide-ranging area in our practical cooperation and enjoys great potential.
We need to take a comprehensive view of the development of our economic ties. China has been Russia’s top trading partner for seven consecutive years. Last year, despite such negative factors as the sluggish global economy and prices fluctuations in oil and other commodities, China-Russia economic cooperation started growing again with the trade volume reaching 69.53 billion U.S. dollars, up by 2.2 percent year on year. In the first five months of this year, the two-way trade grew even faster by 26 percent and the total volume in 2017 is expected to exceed 80 billion dollars.
In particular, the structure of China-Russia economic cooperation and trade continues to improve and quite a few new areas of growth have emerged. First, the robust growth in the trade of mechanical and electrical products as well as high-tech products, registering a 20.8 percent and 19.4 percent increase respectively in the first quarter of this year. Second, burgeoning investment cooperation. This year, our intergovernmental investment cooperation committee decided on a list of 73 new projects, some of which are being carried out according to plan. Third, the deepening financial cooperation. The Central Bank of Russia set up its first overseas office in China. With one of its enterprises issuing “Panda bonds” in China, Russia has become the first among the countries along the Belt and Road to do so. To promote cooperation between China’s northeast and Russia’s far east, China has announced the establishment of the China-Russia Regional Cooperation Development and Investment Fund with a total scale of 100 billion yuan. Fourth, the rapid growth in the trade of agricultural products. China welcomes more imports of high-quality agricultural products from Russia. Fifth, faster progress in the joint development of the far east, for which China is its largest trading partner. The two sides are working on a number of promising projects in the areas of deep processing of resources, port logistics, modern agriculture and infrastructure development. Sixth, the steady progress of major strategic projects in the fields of energy, nuclear power, aviation, aerospace and cross-border infrastructure construction, including smooth progress in the construction of the eastern route of the China-Russia natural gas pipeline, the active participation of Chinese enterprises in the Yamal LNG project, and the opening in Shanghai this May of a joint-venture to manufacture long-range wide-body passenger aircraft.
Having said this, joint efforts are still needed in order to scale up mutual investment and speed up SME cooperation. We need to strengthen the traditional areas of economic cooperation including China’s import of oil, gas, coal, electricity and lumber and other major commodities; we need to expand the use of local currencies in our business ties; we need to implement the agreed investment projects; we need to make full use of the platforms offered by such events as the China-Russia Expo, St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and Eastern Economic Forum; and we need to unlock the potential of sub-national and border area cooperation through the Yangtze River – Volga River and China’s northeast – Russia’s far east mechanisms.
Our two countries’ development would not be possible without that of the Eurasian continent and our growth will contribute to that of the continent as a whole. While attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) this May in Beijing, President Putin stated that Russia supports and is willing to contribute to the Belt and Road Initiative. Our two countries are working actively to build synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, as part of which the two sides are discussing an agreement on economic cooperation and a list of joint projects between China and the Eurasian Economic Union. This will help open up broader prospects for bilateral economic cooperation, facilitate trade and investment, create more opportunities for business cooperation, and effectively connect our industries, technologies, capital and markets, so that countries on the Eurasian continent will share in the benefit of economic globalization and regional integration.
In terms of major bilateral projects, we need to remain committed to promoting the integration of upper- and lower-stream cooperation in the field of energy. Major strategic projects are the cornerstone of economic cooperation, whose overall benefits and strategic significance cannot be reflected or measured simply by numbers. Recognizing this, we need to carry out more cooperation in joint research, production and wide application.
In terms of connectivity, we welcome and are willing to jointly develop and build the Primorye international transport corridor proposed by Russia. We hope the two sides will achieve the early completion of the major cross-border infrastructure projects, including China-Russia Tongjiang Railway Bridge (also known as the Amur International Rail Bridge) and the highway bridge in Heihe, Heilongjiang Province. We may also make joint efforts to develop and utilize maritime passageways, particularly the Northern Sea Route, realize a “Silk Road on ice”. These connectivity projects will create new impetus for the in-depth development of our economic cooperation and trade.
SMEs are important drivers of economic growth, a wellspring of innovation and a major source of new jobs. Our two governments need to put in place favorable conditions to further incentivize SME cooperation so that SMEs and large enterprises will develop in tandem, seek complementarity and jointly explore markets in third countries.
To sum up, both President Putin and I are of the view that our two countries need to deepen economic cooperation and trade to strengthen our bond of shared interests. At the same time, we need to take a long-term view and open up our economies to each other for mutual benefit. This will help enhance the comprehensive strength and international competitiveness of our two countries and deliver more benefits of our cooperation to people in both countries.
Q3: The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) you hosted in May was a great success. What do you think of the outcomes? What are your expectations about the Belt and Road Initiative? How do you see Russia’s role in the building of the Belt and Road?
Xi: I put forward the initiative of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in 2013 in my visits to Central Asia and Southeast Asia. The initiative aims to strengthen international cooperation and synergize national development strategies for greater complementarity and common development. Over the past four years, the Belt and Road cooperation has made steady progress and won extensive support, attracting active participation of many parties and yielding substantial “early harvests”. This set the stage for the success of the BRF held this May in Beijing, a meeting to review what had been achieved and chart the course for the future. The leaders of 29 countries, the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund attended the Forum together with some 1,600 representatives from more than 140 countries and 80 international organizations. Under the theme “Belt and Road: Cooperation for Common Prosperity”, the participants had in-depth discussions on promoting policy synergy for closer partnership, enhancing connectivity and facilitating people-to-people exchanges. They reviewed the progress of Belt and Road cooperation and reached many agreements, including 76 items comprising more than 270 concrete results in five areas, sending out a positive message about building the cooperation platform, re-energizing the world economy and rekindling confidence in economic globalization.
We will take the BRF as an opportunity to enhance policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity guided by the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. We will increase policy coordination and complementarity between development strategies, take connectivity as a priority area of cooperation, support faster development of economic corridors, advance cooperation on international production capacity and equipment manufacturing, and work more closely on education, science and technology, culture and healthcare. Together, we can unlock new drivers for economic growth, achieve common development and build a community of shared future for mankind.
President Putin was the first foreign leader to accept my invitation to attend the BRF, which reflected Russia’s important support for China as the host and the high-level nature of China-Russia relationship. In May 2015, China and Russia reached important agreement to seek complementarity and cooperation between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, which won the applause and support of other members of the Eurasian Economic Union. Two years on, steady and notable progress has been made in this cooperation. China will work with Russia to fully leverage the complementarity between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union and keep moving China-Russia relations forward.