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Ambassador hails Russian-Chinese cooperation

The Russian ambassador to China comments on Moscow-Beijing relations
Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov  Artiom Ivanov/TASS
Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov
© Artiom Ivanov/TASS

BEIJING, February 9. /TASS/. Relations between Moscow and Beijing in some areas exceed the level of the political language, Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov said on Friday answering a question from a TASS correspondent. He met with Russian reporters ahead of Diplomatic Workers’ Day.

"We do not have relations of any special type with China enshrined in the form of agreements. We are independent players, but we do have, as we say, relations of comprehensive cooperation and strategic cooperation," the ambassador said.

In his view, some new words are required to describe the nature of bilateral relations. "We have no allied commitments to each other, because there are no allied relations as such. I would say, however, that relations based on comradely partnership in a number of areas are commensurable in terms of their quality with a much higher level compared to what is reflected in our political statements," the diplomat noted.

There are no unsolvable issues in relations between Russia and China, he went on. 

In response to a TASS question, the ambassador said that Russia and China were capable of detecting and resolving any bilateral issues. "I don’t see any reasons for questioning the prospects for the development of our bilateral relations," Denisov added. When asked if there were any issues between Moscow and Beijing, he said that "first and foremost, there are issues related to the implementation of agreements reached by the heads of state and prime ministers, they actually define our practical activities."

"Since we have been doing a lot of practical work - more with each passing year, it is only natural that some issues should emerge," the ambassador noted without going into detail.

"It is not about whether or not there are issues, but about the parties’ ability to detect and resolve those issues," Denisov went on to say. "We do have such an ability so I can tell you that there are no unsolvable issues in Russian-Chinese relations in any field and at any level. There are some problems but there are ways to resolve them," he stressed.

Broader and deeper

Answering a question about the achievements in the Russian-Chinese relations, Denisov said that the interaction between the two countries does not need such a definition as "success."

"Success is a specific and binding concept, because, if we keep talking about achievements all the time, we will have to admit that we are moving from one success to another. This is a philosophical issue, I would say. In practical terms, if we have in mind the Russian-Chinese relations, they are such that they do not need any sensations that imply defining the results as successful. They need a progressive, dynamic development, the way it has been in recent years."

The diplomat noted that bilateral relations are broadening and deepening, adding that new participants are joining practical Russian-Chinese interaction, primarily in trade, economy and the humanitarian sphere. "Relations are deepening, that is, the shape they are acquiring is becoming more complex. This complexity, as you know, does not come by itself. It grows on the foundation laid in previous years."

Full-fledged relations

The ambassador recalled that five top-level bilateral meetings - two in Beijing, one in Moscow and two more on the sidelines of major international events - had been held in 2017, just like in the previous few years. He added that all of them were "full-fledged negotiations that involved the heads of state, delegations, with a wide array of issues discussed, including bilateral, international, political, economic and others." "In general, the agenda at the high-level and top-level meetings is never limited. Our leaders raise those issues, which are the most relevant and those, which they deem necessary," Denisov stressed.

"Of course, when we meet in Beijing, Moscow or just in China or Russia, it is easier and, probably, more natural for us to focus on bilateral issues. During meetings at various major international forums, the two sides discuss primarily the issues related to these forums. For example, if our leaders meet at a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, the way it was last year, the agenda, of course, includes the issue of cooperation between Russia and China as part of this organization and, accordingly, the prospects for its development," he added.

According to the ambassador, Russia and China are "motivated by objective incentives." "These are our national interests, on the one hand, Russia’s and, on the other, China’s interests," he stressed.

Bright prospects, winding road

The Russian ambassador pointed out that at the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, the country’s President Xi Jinping rephrased Mao Zedong’s expression about "bright prospects and a winding road."

"He slightly changed the expression talking about bright prospects and tough challenges," Denisov noted. "I think that this wording better reflects our relationship with China - if not on the bilateral level then amid global developments. Indeed, challenges are many but Russia and China tend to show similar reaction to key events, which proves that relations have good prospects," he added.

"All in all, I don’t see any reason to be worried about our prospects," the Russian ambassador noted. "Although it is no secret that there are some forces in the world that would like to create discord between us, but as our political leader says, it is just wishful thinking because Russia and China are naturally attracted to one another and maintain strong cooperation," he said.

Russia, China, US

The ambassador answered in the affirmative when asked if Washington’s growing pressure could change the structure of the triangle consisting of Russia, China and the United States, particularly taking into account the fact that the Pentagon’s new nuclear weapons strategy names Russia and China as the main source of nuclear threat to the US and its allies.

"It certainly can," Denisov said. "The reason is that Russia and China are engaged in various fields to varying extents. For instance, China has been far more closely cooperating with the US in the economic field," he explained. "But still, we seem to be the two powers opposing Washington though it was not our decision, in fact we would like to find a way out of this but our American partners view it exactly this way," the ambassador added.

"The world is changing and it is not appropriate to talk about any life-changing importance of the triangle consisting of Russia, the US and China," he said. "The world has become multipolar, new forces are emerging, as well as new groups of countries claiming to have certain interests, new short-term alliances are forming. Life is full of change and various combinations but judging by my humble experience as a diplomat, I can say that such a triangle definitely exists."

At the same time, Denisov said that this imaginary triangle of world powers was flexible. "We can’t say that it is made of frozen concrete. The matter is, there are not many countries - there are actually few of them - who seek to pursue an independent policy on the international stage. This is what the positions of the three countries are based on," he said.

"Extremes happen from time to time, when some countries act defiantly, trying to prove their independence. The most recent example has been provided by North Korea, which conducted missile launches. But on the whole - and I would like to reiterate it - China, the United States and Russia are the independent centers of the modern world," the Russian ambassador stressed.

"Undoubtedly, the three are different and their potentials differ as well. In some areas, their capabilities are hardly comparable to each other, while in others they are more or less equal. However, the current global agenda is largely influenced by the three powers," Denisov concluded.

Cooperation in Syria

Russia and China adhere to practically similar views regarding the end of bloodshed in Syria and will retain solidarity in their attitude to the roadmap for the country's postwar reconstruction, he said.

"Chinese see the current events in Syria approximately the way we do. As far as what is to be done, the degree of similarity and the proximity of our stances are rather great," Denisov said. He recalled that China had taken an active part in the Sochi forum, where it was represented by special envoy for Syria Xie Xiaoyan.

"He made a constructive contribution to the discussions and contacts among the participating parties," Denisov said, adding that Russia had expressed gratitude to its Chinese partners.

Denisov voiced the hope for Syria’s return to stability in the long term. He pointed out that China ensured reasonable support for the investigation the international community was conducting into the use of chemical weapons in that country.

"China evaluates the well-known and controversial problem related with chemical weapons in Syria from points of view that are close to our own. It sees very well, just as we do, what aims are pursued by those who have been trying to monopolize (let us put it this way) the international community’s process of decision-making," he said.

The Syrian National Dialog Congress ended in Sochi on January 30 with the adoption of a twelve-point statement explaining Syrians’ vision of the future of their country. The statement says that Syria is to retain its sovereignty and territorial integrity, while its future can be determined by its people alone through elections. The Syrians asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for assistance in arranging for the activities of a constitutional commission, whose mandate is to be specified within the framework of the Geneva process.

SCO summit

The next summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be held in China’s port city of Qingdao (Shandong province) on June 9, he said.

"The date of the first big political event to be held in China during Beijing’s chairmanship has been fixed - the SCO summit is scheduled to take place in Qingdao on June 9," he said.

"Ahead of the summit, various preparatory activities will take place, including several ministerial meetings," Denisov pointed out, adding that there were to be meetings between foreign ministers, defense ministers, security council secretaries and economic ministers.

"The agenda is rather wide-ranging," the Russian ambassador added.

China’s plans in the Arctic region

China’s interest in the Arctic is natural, appropriate and understandable, he said.

"China’s interest in the Arctic is quite natural; [they] are working here to shape a concept of their participation in the exploration of the Arctic, there are scientific and practical organizations here that are developing this issue. China recently published a white paper on its policy [in the Arctic region.] It contains nothing alarming or troubling. It’s a different matter that all of this should be premised on agreements, alignment of interests and usage of each other’s advantages," Denisov said.

The Russian envoy also noted that the exploration of the Arctic pushes the boundaries for many countries, including non-Arctic states. "The Arctic exploration provides great opportunities - chiefly, I guess, infrastructural, communication and transport ones - for various participants," he stressed.

The envoy stated that the presence of China, like other non-Arctic states, in this region should be based on respect for the interests of all states that have a direct access to the Arctic Ocean. "The Arctic is not just our Northeast Passage: these are also waters north of Canada, the strait between the mainland and Baffin Island. Prior to launching massive exploration, we need to settle everything down somehow. To find mutually acceptable solutions for these states, that, like us, consider the waters their own and would not like their rights to exploration and exploitation to be violated," he noted.

Speaking about China’s advantages in the Arctic exploration, the head of the Russian diplomatic mission emphasized that China has massive financial capacities to tackle such issues. "China’s main advantage now is a possibility to bankroll rather heavy funds to finance some specific work," he stressed.

In late January, China’s State Council published a white paper on China’s policy in the Arctic. According to the document, China is determined to create shipping routes in the Arctic region together with other countries under the "Polar Silk Road" initiative.

"Concrete cooperation steps include coordinating development strategies with the Arctic States, encouraging joint efforts to build a blue economic passage linking China and Europe via the Arctic Ocean," the Chinese government said in the document. According to the white paper, "It encourages its enterprises to participate in the infrastructure construction for these routes and conduct commercial trial voyages in accordance with the law to pave the way for their commercial and regularized operation."

China’s government attaches great importance to navigation security in the region. "It has actively conducted studies on these routes and continuously strengthened hydrographic surveys with the aim to improving the navigation, security and logistical capacities in the Arctic," the document says.

According to the document, China is determined to develop production of oil, gas, mineral resources and non-fossil fuel, as well as develop fishing and tourism together with the Arctic states, respecting their traditions and the culture of the indigenous peoples of this region and taking measures to protect the environment.