Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bilateral Relations: China, Russia Sign Landmark Energy, Finance, Tech Deals

Source: Voice of America

Shannon Van Sant

Chinese leaders are in Moscow forming a range of deals and collaborations with Russian companies.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang personally attended meetings that saw signings more than 40 agreements across many sectors and industries.

The deals cover energy, finance and technology. They also extend credit lines from Chinese banks and arrange for currency swaps.

Some analysts say these cooperation agreements provide a lifeline to Russia amid sanctions from the West.

Russian and Chinese leaders had "in-depth and practical exchanges of views and deliberated on reports in a series of meetings," said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei.

"Cooperation between China and Russia is based on mutual respect and does not target against a third party," Hong Lei added, stating that the agreements serve the interest of the whole world.

Significant credit

As part of the deal, Chinese banks agreed to give credit lines worth more than $4.5 billion to Russian companies, and the countries also agreed to a three year currency swap worth more than $25 billion.

The agreements pave the way for increased exports of Russia’s natural gas supplies to China, and Russian oil company OAO Rosneft also signed a deal to strengthen its ties with the China National Petroleum Company.

Russia is one of the largest energy producers in the world.

Renmin University International Relations Professor Xiaohe Cheng says the deals come at a crucial point as Russia’s relationship with the West has deteriorated.

“The timing of such meeting is quite sensitive, particularly against the backdrop of sanctions imposed by western countries on Russia," he says. "This time it is quite significant for a number of reasons. Number one the two countries signed a number of great deals including China will help Russia to build a high speed rail.”

Effective sanctions

The United States and European Union imposed sanctions on Russia following the incursion into Ukraine. China has refused to join these sanctions instead forming lucrative energy, oil and gas deals with Russia.

“China-Russia relations is probably the most important and most successful big country relationship because the two countries respect each other and promote each other’s interests in many respects," said Victor Gao, Director of the China National Association of International Studies. "And since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, this adds momentum to the reinforcement of relations between China and Russia.”

Gao says that while the West is worried about Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and increasing influence in Eastern Europe, Russia is concerned by growing European and U.S. military presence in the region.

“China has different views compared with the West as far as relations with Russia are concerned," he said. "From the Chinese perspective of respecting each other, treating each other as equals is very important. One triggering factor for the Ukrainian crisis is the perceived effort to expand NATO into Ukraine, which was considered a red button from the Russian perspective. ... Therefore the whole situation involving Ukraine is probably more complicated than what Western countries want to project to the rest of the world.”

Last May, Russia and China signed a 30 year $400 billion gas deal. Russia’s Prime Minister says he hopes to see trade between the two countries more than double to $200 billion.