Russia Today featured Martin Hennecke, an associate director at a financial services firm in Hong Kong, commenting on the Russia-China relationship. This was during the backdrop of Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Xi Jinping, who is expected to inherit Chinese President Hu Jintao’s job in 2012. The Russia Today news anchor said “Russia and China today agreed to help each other to increase their clout in global affairs” of the leaders meeting. While the news was back in March 2010, I think it is still relevant today.
Back in 2008, before the Beijing Olympics, Russia and China signed the final agreement to completely demarcate their 4,300km border, the longest in the world. I think the global political climate helped the two come together with urgency to put this 40-year thorny issue to rest. With that out of the way, we can see their relationship expanding. Last year, Russia and China agreed to dump the USD in their bilateral trade. A 1,000km oil pipeline also started operating at the beginning of 2011, expecting to carry 15 million tons of crude oil to China annually from Russia.
As Hennecke says, China understands Russia would like the relationship be more than just raw materials trade.
With NATO attempting to bring former Soviet Union satellite states into its fold, Russia feels encircled. With U.S. in Central Asia now and trying to strengthen her presence in East Asia, it is only natural Russia and China strengthen SCO. Don’t get me wrong though, as I have always argued, the relationship on the global stage is that of cooperatition. (See my opinion of the U.S.-China relationship in that light, “Opinion: Keeping a cool view of the U.S.-China Cooperatition.”)