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Press review: Trump pressures China on North Korea and US media doubles down on Trump

July 04, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Tuesday, July 4

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© AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US echoes call on China to step up pressure against North Korea

US President Donald Trump held a phone conversation with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday. The conversation ahead of this week’s G20 summit in the German city of Hamburg was aimed at ensuring that the Chinese leader would meet his April commitment to assisting Washington on the North Korean issue, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

Official statements by both American and Chinese press services show that the US leader failed to achieve progress on the issue. The only agreement reached between the two presidents is that there is a need to carry out denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Experts believe that since Washington’s hopes for Beijing’s assistance in containing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions have not been fulfilled, the White House is toughening its position on Taiwan and trade with China.

Most recently, Trump said that he was running out of patience as China had been tiptoeing around the North Korean issue. Meanwhile, Pyongyang is creating a missile with a nuclear warhead that is capable of reaching the United States. That’s why the American president is considering plans of slapping new quotas on the steel imports from China, the paper writes.

Alexander Larin, Senior Fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Far Eastern Studies, told the paper: "Ahead of the G20 meeting Trump decided to explore China’s stance. Are mutual concessions possible? For China, any bargaining on Taiwan is out of the question, while Korea is another case. I doubt that China will explicitly exert pressure on Pyongyang. But pressure behind the curtain cannot be ruled out. In general, it seems that Chinese-US relations are escalating to new levels."

The question is whether Trump’s phone call could influence the top-level Russian-Chinese talks in Moscow, the paper writes. In the current international situation, Russia depends on China and Xi Jinping’s support is a resource on which Putin can rely at the upcoming meeting with Trump, according to the paper. China, as the world’s second biggest economic power, which is not conducting any wars, is ready to act absolutely independently without looking back at its partners, the paper says.

 

RBC: Rosneft to offer share in Russkoye field to ExxonMobil

US oil giant ExxonMobil, which suspended operations on Russia’s shelf due to the infamous sanctions, may get access to the country’s reserves on shore. Russia’s Rosneft oil company has offered its US partner to buy shares in several projects, including in the Russkoye oil and gas field in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region, one of Russia’s largest deposits, three sources in Rosneft and a federal official told RBC daily.

One of the sources said Rosneft offered a share in the Russkoye field to several partners, and ExxonMobil is just one of them. A spokesman for the US company has refused to comment on the issue. The deal should be approved by the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service, but the watchdog has so far not received any request on the purchase from ExxonMobil.

Rosneft is ready to offer promising and current projects to foreign investors, including in the fields in Western and Eastern Siberia, a representative of the company told RBC. The company earlier said that it was looking for investors in the Russkoye project and others to carve up and share risks and also to attract investment and technology.

ExxonMobil’s participation may increase the asset’s price, analyst Artyom Konchin of Oktritie Capital said. The company could offer technologies that would increase the oil recovery index. If Rosneft chooses an Indonesian or Chinese company, it will primarily get a financial partner, analyst at Sberbank CIB Valery Nesterov told the paper.

Given the project’s scale, Rosneft may attract several investors and set up a consortium, analyst at Russia’s independent investment group Aton, Alexander Kornilov, said. He believes that the extraction at the Russkoye field will be efficient under the current oil prices. According to Nesterov, this depends on the production profile and technologies that will be used.

 

Kommersant: US media doubles down on anti-Trump rhetoric in ongoing feud

The Independence Day celebrations in the US on July 4 come amid the most stinging confrontation between the 45th President Donald Trump and leading mass media outlets, as the symbols of America’s democracy go head to head, Kommersant writes.

By posting a video on Twitter showing Trump on the sidelines of a wrestling ring, beating up a man with a CNN logo on his face, the US leader riled up mass media outlets close to both leading parties against him. The US commander-in-chief’s battle against the press has in fact transformed the mass media into an informal opposition party demanding his ouster, the paper writes.

At first, the media feud looked like it was just Trump against CNN. However, today the brouhaha has spiralled into a total war between the president and the mass media, with even so-called conservative-leaning outlets like Fox News surprisingly taking the side of CNN and MSNBC, according to the paper.

Professor Alexander Domrin from the Moscow-based Higher School of Economics who has lectured in law in leading US universities for many years, said: "Today US mass media have in fact turned into an informal opposition party, a radically-minded one (at that) seeking Donald Trump’s departure. Journalists see the current White House occupant as a threat not only to their professional activity but to the basis of US democracy."

Despite accusations of suppressing freedom of speech, the current spat has also led to leading mass media outlets and particular journalists scoring big points in the ratings game as they make themselves out to look like professional "crusaders against the Trump regime," the paper writes.

 

Kommersant: Chinese yuan to get green light in Russia

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the China Development Bank (CDB) have agreed to set up a fund in yuans for investing in joint projects valued at up to 68 bln yuans ($10 bln). The deal will be signed on Tuesday at the Russian-Chinese talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Kommersant writes, referring to the RDIF.

The new fund will operate on the basis of the Russian-Chinese Investment Fund (RCIF) and the CDB will enter the project through a subsidiary company, China Development Bank Capital.

At present, the RCIF is eyeing 30 projects in retail, agriculture, the food industry, real estate and pharmaceuticals. Russia hopes that the participation of a major Chinese state bank will make it easier to approve investments in Russian projects and attract financing.

At first, the sides will invest around $1 bln, a source familiar with the talks said, noting that this will be primarily the capital of Chinese partners. In addition, the fund expects that the new partners may invest up to $2 bln. The priority will be focused on Russian-Chinese projects in infrastructure, energy, transport, natural resources and agriculture, according to the paper.

Russian market players expect that the CDB’s participation in the fund would facilitate the process of getting loans for joint projects. They also expect that the fund’s launch will put an earlier Russian initiative into effect on setting up an easier mechanism for direct investment by Chinese partners into Russia.

Chinese investors have interest in investing in yuans, but a lot depends on the eagerness to access capital in this currency, said Director of the Eastern school programs at the Eastern Studies Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Neveykin. Now Chinese authorities easily back investments in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. It is more difficult to get permission to invest in Russia and that’s why investors usually carry out deals through subsidiary companies or via Hong Kong. A Russian asset is registered for a company in Hong Kong and then this company is bought by a Chinese investor, the expert explained.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Ex-finance minister advises Kremlin against confrontation with West

Former Russian Finance Minister Alexey Kudrin, who chairs the Board at the Center for Strategic Research (CSR), is calling on Russia and the West to “hold back their ambitions or grievances", Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. In its latest study, "Theses on Russia’s Foreign Policy and Global Positioning (2017-2024)" the center says that Russia lags behind in a number of crucial areas due to external conflicts.

Among the specific proposals on mending cooperation is the refusal to implement the points of the Minsk peace deal on Ukraine in a consecutive way, and also abandoning support for opposition figures inside the EU countries and ending its media war with the West.

The study points out that today Russia is losing a great deal due to confrontation with the West: trade is in a limbo, the threat of an arms race emerges and many areas of cooperation in which Russia is interested itself are stalled. According to the experts, Russian authorities are taking chaotic steps, wasting power and resources "on excessive military and political rivalry with the West."

"Although in fact, there are no existential differences between the countries," the study says.

The experts suggest drawing up a positive strategy for the West "with the focus on economic and humanitarian cooperation and also reducing risks of an armed conflict." Otherwise, the long-running conflict will inevitably lead to "Russia’s marginalization in international institutions and projects, and may result in a serious loss of economic profit."

The document says that the Minsk agreements will hardly be implemented in full and sooner or later will have to be reviewed. "Diplomats should focus on fulfilling those provisions of the Minsk agreements, which would contribute to peace and be accepted by all parties. Holding elections in the war-torn region, which will be recognized by everyone, is a result that can be reached."

The center also advises the Kremlin to try to solve the crisis in Syria jointly with all key players, including the United States. In general, "Russia’s policy in the Middle East should be beyond domination in military and political agenda," it says.

 

TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in the press reviews

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