Cooperation Across the Continent: How Russian-Chinese Relations Evolved in Recent Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Premier of the Chinese State Council Li Keqiang will hold a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday to discuss possibilities for strengthening bilateral relations in trade, science, and innovations, as well as issues of cooperation on the international arena.

Russian-Chinese relations have been actively developing in various fields and are characterised by a strong legal framework and extensive organisational structure.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Soviet Union established diplomatic relations on 2 October 1949. The Soviet Union became the first foreign state to recognise China.
On 24 December 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Chinese government recognised Russia as a legal successor of the former Soviet Union’s international rights and obligations.
The basic principles and directions of bilateral cooperation are reflected in the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation between Russia and China of 16 July 2001.
Both sides officially identify current Russian-Chinese relations as a comprehensive, equal and trusting partnership and strategic cooperation.Top-Level TalksThe two states maintain intensive political dialogue. Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have been meeting at least five times a year.
In 2018, Putin paid a state visit to China from 8-10 June. On the first day of his visit, Putin held talks with Xi. Besides that, Xi awarded the Order of Friendship of the People’s Republic of China to the Russian president. The leaders visited the city of Tianjin. As part of his state visit to China, Putin also met with Li.On 26 July, Putin and Xi held a private meeting in the South African city of Johannesburg on the sidelines of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) summit.
From 11-12 September, at Putin’s invitation, Xi for the first time took part in the work of the Eastern Economic Forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok. The two leaders held a meeting and visited a photo exhibition dedicated to the history of Russian-Chinese trade and economic cooperation.
On 15 November, Putin met with Li on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Singapore.
The next meeting between Putin and Xi was held on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires on 30 November. The leaders of Russia, China and India also held a tripartite meeting.
From 25-27 April 2019, Putin paid a working visit to China to take part in the events of the second Belt and Road Forum. He held talks with Xi and, in addition, received an honorary doctorate diploma from one of the leading universities in China, Beijing’s Tsinghua University.
On 13 May Putin received Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in his presidential residence of Bocharov Ruchey in the Russian resort city of Sochi. Prior to that, Wang held negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
On 5 June, Xi travelled to Russia for a state visit and negotiations at the highest level took place. At the end of the Russian-Chinese talks, Putin and Xi arrived at the Moscow Zoo to take a look at a pavilion for big pandas, as China’s government had previously decided to transfer two pandas there.
On the same day, Putin and Xi visited the Bolshoi Theater to attend a gala evening dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and China. The next day, Xi met with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow.On 6 June the two leaders visited St. Petersburg State University, where Xi was awarded an honorary doctorate degree. A day later, Putin and Xi took part in the session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and met with the participants of the second Russian-Chinese energy forum.
On 14 June 2019, the two presidents met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek. After the summit, the leaders of Russia, China and Mongolia held a meeting.
A trilateral meeting of the leaders of Russia, China and India took place in Japan’s Osaka on 28 June 2019 on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
On 5 September 2019 Putin met with Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua on the margins of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.
The countries’ heads of government have been meeting regularly since 1996.
From 5-7 November 2018, Medvedev paid an official visit to the PRC to take part in the 23rd regular meeting between the heads of government of Russia and China. During the visit, he was also received by Xi.
On 17 September 2019, the 24th regular meeting of the two countries’ heads of government was held in St. Petersburg.
An interparliamentary commission for cooperation between Russia’s Federation Council and the State Duma with China’s National People’s Congress is in operation. Both countries arrange a regular exchange of delegations through special parliamentary committees and commissions, as well as lawmakers’ groups.The two countries also hold regular consultations on strategic security issues, with the last one taking place in Moscow in August 2018.
The Chinese and Russian foreign ministers exchange annual visits and regularly meet on the sidelines of international events, including the events within the United Nations, G20, APEC, BRICS, and SCO. There is a system of scheduled consultations at the level of deputy foreign ministers and heads of departments between the Russian and Chinese foreign ministries.
Russia and China voice coinciding or similar approaches toward principal issues on the international agenda, including the situation in Ukraine, the Korean peninsula, the Middle East and North Africa. It represents the foundation of their close cooperation in international affairs. Russia’s position on the Taiwan issue is set out in the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation and implies that there is only one China, with Taiwan being its integral part.

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