Russian Sinologist Andrei Ostrovsky, Chief Researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Oriental Studies and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the journal Problems of the Far East, recently gave an interview to Business Gazeta. The interviewer, Olga Vandysheva, was concerned about the seemingly inconclusive visit to China by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and particularly with the absence of a new gas deal.
Ostrovsky was reassuring – the gas deal will be signed because China needs Russia's energy, and China, although awaiting the Taiwanese elections, has already opened a second front against the West over the status of the island.
Nevertheless, he was also critical of his own country for neglecting to develop economic ties with China and failing for creating the culture and infrastructure necessary for their development. Ostrovsky also said that some of Russia's problems with China date back to Soviet times and continue to haunt the relationship.
The full interview with Ostrovsky follows below:
Mikhail Mishustin with Xi Jinping (Source: Life.ru)
Q: "Andrei Vladimirovich [Ostrovsky], a large and representative Russian delegation led by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin visited China last week. How would you assess the results of that trip?"
A: "For Mishustin, this was his first trip to China with the rank of prime minister. It can be called the second stage of contemporary relations between our countries. The first stage was the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in Moscow, when political agreements were reached at the highest level.
"The second stage envisioned that we should agree on developing ties in the commercial and economic spheres. During the Russian delegation's visit, a major economic forum took place in Shanghai; Mishustin visited Sinopec, a company that engages in oil production and refining. Then he travelled to Beijing, where he met with PRC President Xi Jinping. Then he paid a visit to one of China's leading universities, Tsinghua, where he met Chinese students.
"These contacts enabled the signing of a series of agreements, primarily on expansion of services between the Ministry of Economic Development and the PRC Development and Reforms Committee in the area of agriculture and a number of other realms. And this process will continue."
Q: "How successful was the visit?"
A: "The press is now discussing why no agreement has been signed on the 'Power of Siberia-2' gas project that runs through MongoliA: The “Gazprom” company has issued a statement about this that it will be signed at the end of the year. I hope so too.
"The Financial Times newspaper has expressed the view that China wants to maintain a pause in order to agree get gas at a lower price. History will show what is the real case. In my opinion, the Chinese will sign this agreement anyway, because they are short of gas, just like oil. This is Beijing's main problem. For instance, China produces about 200 million tons of oil annually and imports more than 500 million tons. The same is the case for gas. Its production is about 150 billion cubic meters. This is not enough to maintain high rates of economic growth in ChinA:
"Our 'Power of Siberia-1' pipeline has not reached its full capacity. But this pipeline along with 'Power of Siberia-2' that runs through Mongolia will ensure a total increase in gas supplies for China by another 50-60 billion cubic meters after it reaches its design capacity. As a matter of fact, China finds itself now in a situation where there is no other source of additional gas resources aside from Russia. It's unlikely that supplies from the gas field in Turkmenistan will be able to offset all of China's current energy needs. Thus, I believe the agreement will be signed."
Q: "So, it's not worth paying attention to foreign press coverage of Mishustin's visit?"
A: "The foreign press writes a lot. Its main purpose is to sow confusion into the thinking of ordinary people that Russia and China cannot develop trade and economic cooperation. But sooner or later a gas agreement between our countries will be signed, because its own production does not meet the needs of the Chinese economy. And should the growth rate in the energy sector prove lower than the growth rate in the economy, the Chinese economy as a whole will inevitably start to decline.
"For the first quarter of 2023, the PRC's GDP was 4.5%. This means that the growth in the energy sector was about 5-6%. It is not only in oil and gas that China has to maintain this rate. The PRC enjoys plenty of resources, nevertheless they need gas supplies.
"Moscow at one time planned to sign a draft agreement with Beijing to commission a road and gas pipeline through the Kanas Pass in Gorno-Altaysk. But problems arose because the local authorities would not give permission to build the road across the Ukok Plateau. So they had to run the pipeline through Mongolia, providing natural gas also for the needs of Ulaanbaatar. But I believe that sooner or later an agreement on the Power of Siberia-2 project will be signed, because China has nowhere to go."
Q: "But Russia is just as interested in this project as China, because we have lost the European gas market."
A: "True, we lost the European market, Nord Stream 2 pipeline was blown up. But Europe has suffered even more. Where will they get their extra gas supplies from? From America. But it is twice as expensive. Our gas is cheaper. And we can redirect gas to the East, which is what we are doing. For instance, I have been publishing articles on this topic for years arguing that Russia needs to go eastwards in terms of hydrocarbons supplies, because our oil and gas deposits are mainly located in the East. And our hydrocarbons are needed not only in China, but also in South Korea and Japan. So far, given the current political situation, our main partner in the East is China. And I believe this situation will persist for quite a long time."
"Russia Accounts For Less Than 3% Of China's Total Foreign Trade"
Q: "But so far, we have not been able to agree with Beijing on practical steps regarding the 'Power of Siberia-2' project. In this regard, not only foreign, but also some Russian business media and Telegram channels write that the visit of the Russian prime minister was inconclusive."
A: "I would not say that Mishustin's visit came as a failure. But, naturally, the expected results were much more significant than they turned out to be. That's accurate. We have to admit that our trade and economic relations with China are underdeveloped, their level is inferior to the level of political relations between the states. Mishustin's visit just highlighted this problem. On top of that, we have absolutely underdeveloped foreign trade infrastructure and bank connections. This conclusion is quite in line with reality."
Q: "There are also reports that Chinese authorities have allegedly forbidden their top officials and prominent businessmen to meet with members of the Russian delegation due to the threat of sanctions."
A: "It is difficult to say whether or not Chinese officials and businessmen have been in fact prohibited from meeting with Russian ones. But there are plenty of organizations and structures in China that could very well have contacts with Russia without fear of sanctions, as they are in no way affiliated with the US.
"In general, we should have switched to ruble-yuan trading long time ago in order to evade this problem. Then neither we nor the Chinese will be afraid of any sanctions, because no one will know about these transactions, unless there would be a “whistleblower.” Since many Chinese companies focus on foreign markets, we can distinguish between those that work with America and Europe and those that work with Russia.
"Any problem can be solved or circumvented. But it's true that in China a number of big companies quite actively operate in the West and they don't want to break off relations with the West. I do not believe that the West wants to break off relations with Chinese firms either."
Q: "So, some Chinese businessmen may indeed be afraid of Western sanctions? But not all of them, right?"
A: "It all depends on the specific companies. For instance, there has been heavy pressure on Huawei for several years now, as well as on ZTE. And I don't know what sense it makes for Beijing to maintain relations with the US as a result of such a policy."
Q: "Incidentally, Professor Guan Guihai of Beijing University in a recent speech..."
A: "We are acquainted."
Q: "So, he argued, in particular, that Russia is a much more self-sufficient country than ChinA: Therefore China, unlike Russia, cannot afford to break with the global economy, and therefore seeks to maintain good relations with the West. Can you comment on this?"
A: "He's right. Absolutely. I agree with him. China and Russia are independent countries. But China is smaller. A classic example is [availability] energy resources. Even Russia cannot meet China's needs. That is why we are now the main suppliers of energy to China, together with Saudi Arabia. And if Beijing were to quarrel with America, it would block all the straits at sea, especially the Malacca Straits. Then China would be short of energy resources, and its economy would begin to slow down. I, for one, have a big question about why China would want to do this."
Q: "Going back to the visit of our delegation, according to social media, even Putin was allegedly concerned about the cold reception of our officials and businessmen and requested a report on the trip in order to draw conclusions on how to cooperate with the Chinese in the future."
A: "It makes sense to study the results of the visit. I myself would like to know what really happened there. But as someone, who has been involved a lot in commercial-economic relations between Russia and the PRC, I can assess the situation without a report. There is no doubt that Russia faces quite a few problems in the trade and economic sphere with China. Our ties have not been developed for many years.
"The problems in bilateral relations surfaced during Mishustin's visit to the country. The most important one is that our foreign trade volume isn't that great. Earlier we used to rank 10-11th, now we rank 7-8th [in terms trade turnover with China]. But considering our political relations, we should occupy 1st or 2nd place. Our foreign trade [turnover] with China totals only 190 billion USD, whereas China's overall foreign trade is 6.2 trillion USD.
"In other words, Russia accounts for less than 3% of China's total foreign trade. These figures are comparable to that of the 1963 – 1964 period, when there was a serious cooling between our countries. Although in 1960, Russia, i.e., the USSR, accounted for 50% of the PRC's foreign trade. We were the PRC's first partners. And today we are of little economic significance to China (if one was to look objectively, from an economic statistics perspective). In other words, the level of trade and economic cooperation between our countries is substantially inferior to the level of military and political cooperation."
"What's Wrong With Chinese Cars? Or Are We All Used To Driving Only BMWs And Mercedes?"
Q: "Indeed, China is Russia's 1st trading partner, in turn Russia itself ranks only 7th among the PRC's trading partners. How can this imbalance be changed?"
A: "We need to develop the economy and expand the market. If previously we enjoyed a huge supply of goods from Europe, today, after 10 embargo packages, we have to focus only on Eastern and Southern countries. Europe has effectively been closed to us (both Eastern and Western Europe). Transport corridors [there] have been closed as well. But if we [Russia] won't expand our own economy and market, but introduce Chinese goods to us in large quantities, there will be certain problems for our producers."
Q: "Exactly. It's no coincidence that fears are sounded, for instance, that soon all our cars will be manufactured exclusively by the Chinese, and that we will not be able to develop our own auto industry."
A: "What's wrong with Chinese cars? I, for example, drive a Chinese-made vehicle and I can say that they are good cars. For example, Haval or Geely are quite decent vehicles, comparable in terms of value for money with Western ones. What's wrong with Chinese cars? Or are we all used to driving only BMWs and Mercedes?"
Q: "But we won't be able to develop our own car industry, despite the opportunity presented by the sanctions."
A: "Well, we were not developing the car industry in any case. I, for example, first visited China in the 1980s. Our 'LADAs' and 'Volgas' vehicles were quite well represented there then. Even in the 1990s, they were running around the PRC's roads. But today they are gone. As the Chinese say, now one can see them only in an antique car museum.
"Why is it that we cannot set up a joint venture between the [Russian manufactured] 'LADA' and the Chinese company 'Haval,' for example? This company is represented in our country. There is a localized production in the Tula Oblast, Stantsiaya Uzlovaya. Here you go. Haval cars are quite comparable to the latest Western models. I see nothing wrong with Chinese cars and SUVs entering our market, provided they are of the same quality as the German ones.
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"Furthermore, the supply of Western cars to Russia is practically blocked. And China is already the number one manufacturer of cars in the world. They produce 26 million cars per year. More than a third of them are passenger cars of a high standard."
Haval Factory in Tula (Source: Myslo.ru)
Q: "A large group of about 40 officials from Tatarstan [Business Gazeta is based in Tatarstan] led by Rustam Minnikhanov was part of the Russian delegation to China. Minnikhanov held a series of meetings in the PRC, including with the leadership of Anhui Province."
A: "True, Minnikhanov even gave a big interview in Shanghai about it."
Q: "And how would you assess the prospects for cooperation between Tatarstan and the PRC?"
"I believe that Tatarstan and China have great prospects for cooperation. For instance, in China there is a demand for our KAMAZs [heavy load vehicles]. The production quality is of a very high level. The fact that our trucks win prizes in all rallies testifies to this.
"Back in the 1990s I worked with a Chinese delegation, which was visiting Tatarstan. At that time a number of meetings were held at industrial enterprises, as well as scientific seminars. The Chinese displayed a great interest in the development of economic opportunities in Tatarstan. But, unfortunately, after 1993-1994, those ties were broken off.
"We became more Western-oriented. No one wanted to study the Chinese experience. We ignored it for many years. Before 1991, we did not study the experience of the PRC because the CPSU leadership believed that the Chinese were deviating from the communist course, that they were revisionists, and their reforms were unsuitable for us.
"There was a different position after 1991: they are Communists in China, they will not teach us anything good, we should study the Western experience. But if one to look at the results of the Chinese reform today, then where is China and where is Russia in terms of economic indicators. We are lagging very far behind. Just like the case of Vietnam, where the Chinese experience turned out to be in demand, (as well as in a number of other countries), that has attained quite serious economic successes. We, too, could've adapted the Chinese experience and turned from a planned economy to a market economy without any inflation and social disasters.
"We should have considered the Chinese experience 30 years ago, but even now it is not harmful to study Chinese economic reforms."
Q: "But today, new opportunities for cooperation with China are opening up, including for Tatarstan."
"Correct. For example, in the city of Elabuga, the Chinese were planning to have joint trucks production. True, I have been hearing about this project for many years. So far it has not yielded any results.
"Also, back in the day there were plans of commissioning a high-speed railway between Moscow and Beijing. This was mentioned back in 2017 at the' One Belt, One Road' conference in China, which was attended by Putin. But 1.5 years passed, and we gave up on this project, the arguments were: it's unprofitable, inconvenient. As a result, we were not included in the Chinese 'One Belt, One Road' at all: zero rubles investment, zero dollars. We do not participate in any project of the Chinese One Belt, One Road Initiative. Although it would have been absolutely beneficial for us to receive loans from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund.
"But we refused to build the road because we were oriented towards Europe. And what did we end up with? - the Special Military Operation."
"Even The Vast Internet Lacks Enough Competent Publications About China"
Q: "Thus, it's our own fault that the Chinese are in no hurry to conclude concrete contracts with us today, isn't it?"
A: "The fact that we were ignoring the Chinese experience is, naturally, our own fault. Who else is to blame? We were reluctant to study it. I remember well back in the 1990s when my articles on this subject were turned down for publication in newspapers. People said, 'China is not an authority; we are not going to study China. We will not internalize anything good from them.” In 2020, I published a book called 'China Becomes an Economic Superpower'. It was published in an edition of 150 copies. People were asking me: where can I buy it? I can't find it in shops. I asked the publisher. They did not have a single copy left. Can you imagine?"
A: "Lately, experts on China have been constantly talking about this. That we used to look to the West, putting our “eggs in one basket”, and only now are we making a U-turn towards the East..."
A: "And this problem has not gone anywhere. We are still turned to the West."
Q: "Even in the current situation, against the backdrop of the SVO, are we still looking towards the West?"
"Yes. The Chinese experience must be studied. In Russia, little is known about Chinese reforms. There are academics who write about it. But papers are published ion usually in editions of 100-200 copies. Even on the Internet expanse, there aren't enough competent publications about China. There are interviews with Sinologists, who talk smartly about the Chinese economy, but who themselves have not published a single monograph, a single article on the Chinese economy."
Q: "Be that as it may, one gets the impression today that the Russian leadership strives to move as soon as possible to a qualitatively new level of relations with Beijing. The fact that the visit of our delegation followed two months after the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in Moscow is evidence of that."
A: "The Russian leadership may be interested in developing trade and economic relations with China. But time we've lost during these 30 years cannot be recouped in 2-3 years. It will take years of hard work. It is necessary to educate Sinologists, employees of enterprises cooperating with China, sign relevant agreements at the ministry and agency level. In our country, almost none of this is being done."
"So, it will not be possible in any case to move promptly to a higher level of relations with the PRC?"
A: "Provided we strive to develop trade and economic relations with China, first of all we need, as I said, to train specialists who can enter conversations with the Chinese. Businesses must actively work with each other.
"In Russia the work is being done only at the level of highest political echelons. During the COVID pandemic, we had almost no cooperation with the PRC. And how could one sign agreements if we couldn't go to China and the Chinese could not travel to us. Signing agreements requires constant work, visits, meetings."
Q: "By the way, you mentioned Vietnam. Last week Dmitry Medvedev paid a visit there, almost on the same day. Could this have been interpreted in Beijing as an unfriendly signal from Moscow?"
A: "No, they couldn't. For us, Vietnam is also a very important country in the current climate. Especially as Hanoi does not support US sanctions, and we need to develop relations with it as well."
Dmitry Medvedev visits the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in Hanoi (Source: RiA:ru)
Q: "But why should the two visits be timed together, provided Beijing and Hanoi are at odds over territorial disputes?
A: "There may be differences of opinion between China and Vietnam. But [Hanoi enjoys] a higher level of foreign trade with Beijing than Moscow does with Beijing. Excuse me, if the volume of Sino - Vietnam foreign trade is 250 billion USD, and we do not even reach 200 billion, then what is there to talk about? Vietnam in general is developing quite actively.
"I was in Vietnam, talked to local leaders, who are involved in the economy. They even limit cooperation with China! For instance, at one time it was a rule that Chinese goods could be brought into Vietnam only on Vietnamese ships. But Hanoi is woefully short of ships. Be that as it may, they enjoy higher foreign trade with Beijing than we do."
"Today, China, Together With Russia, Is In A Stand-Off With The West"
Q: "An opinion exists that the Kremlin had high hopes that China, as our ally, would supply us with arms, capture Taiwan and open a second front against the collective West. But this did not happen..."
A: "As a Sinologist, I cannot say what kind of arms you are talking about. The problem is different. There is a huge volume of consumer goods, which we in Russia do not produce in sufficient quantity. Moreover, Chinese goods are priced much lower than ours. Russian businesses are very afraid of a large volume of Chinese goods appearing on the domestic market because our manufacturers would simply lose out in a competitive struggle."
Q: "And what about the second front in confronting the West?"
A: "China has, in fact, opened a second front against the West. The Taiwan problem is no less acute for Beijing than the Ukraine problem is for us. Today it's in a quiescent state for one simple reason. China is awaiting the results of the presidential and parliamentary elections in Taiwan in 2024.
"President Tsai Ing-wen is ineligible for a third term, and the election is expected to be won by the Kuomintang party by all current accounts, because it won last year's local election by a huge margin. And this party, unlike the ruling Mingdang (Democratic Progressive Party), does not support the independence of the island and considers it to be part of China.
"Thus, Beijing waits for the Kuomintang, with whose leadership preliminary talks already took place, to come to power in Taiwan and for an agreement to be reached that will gradually incorporate Taiwan into China, according to Hong Kong's 'one country, two systems' model."
Q: "So, you believe that the PRC, along with Russia, is confronting the West?"
A: "Naturally, today the PRC, along with Russia, is engaged in a confrontation with the West. That is absolutely true. Although China's foreign trade with the West is significant, it is decreasing. For instance, Sino-US trade has decreased; China's trade with the EU has also declined (both in terms of percentage and total value). But trade has increased with Southeast Asian countries and the One Belt One Road Initiative member-states.
"Those who argue that the main investment in China is Western and that Beijing would be lost without it are absolutely wrong. The majority of investment in China (two-thirds) comes from Hong Kong. For some reason, everybody in our country forgets about that. Western investment in China is minimal. The annual foreign investment in China accounts for less than 2% of the total.
"The Chinese economy enjoys investment from its own enterprises (which constitute up to two-thirds of all investments). Foreign investment does not play a big role in the development of the Chinese economy at all. The only thing is that the latest Chinese technologies are being developed with foreign investment. The PRC has made plans for each economic sector, i.e., in which foreign investment can be made, where restrictions are imposed, and in which it is prohibited to invest.
"Beijing mainly encourages foreign investment in high-tech. But the West and, above all, the US are curbing such investments as they realize that China is now their main competitor. The Chinese economy will soon overtake the American one, perhaps even by 2027. Such forecasts are already being made. I agree with those predictions. By 2027 China will be the leader of the world economy and will occupy first place by all parameters."
Q: "Do you not have the impression that in its relations with Russia, the PRC is still playing the role of 'big brother,' in particular by pulling the post-Soviet countries of Central Asia into its orbit?"
A: "Xi Jinping's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative is indeed aimed mainly at the Central Asian states, as well as Eastern Europe, with which China had insufficient ties. However, foreign trade (I am not taking investment into account) with the five Central Asian countries (i.e., Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) totals a meager 75 billion USD.
"Given that China's total foreign trade stands at 6.2 trillion USD, that means, it's miniscule. The Chinese are trying to invigorate central Asian countries through infrastructure development: railways, highways: China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan, China-Kazakhstan, China-Tajikistan.
"On the other hand, it's beneficial for these countries to participate in the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative because they become economically stronger, as the development of the economy of a particular state depends very much on infrastructure development."
Q: "Meanwhile, they are building these projects without our involvement. For example, at the recent summit of the Central Asian states, now dubbed the C5, a document on new steps to construct a railway to Europe bypassing Russia was signed with China."
A: "This road will be long in the making. There are three routes from the PRC to Europe. It was planned for the first one to run through Russia. In turn, this required the commissioning of a high-speed 'Moscow – Beijing' railway. The second route was via Aktau, Baku, Tbilisi and Turkey. The third runs through Iran and Afghanistan.
"If one to look at the history of Roman Empire during the period of Julius Caesar, then the southern route was used more. But today there are a number of reasons that hamper its realization.: The first one is the political situation in Afghanistan.
"The second route is very expensive due to double transshipment through the Caspian and Black Seas. However, the supply of cargoes shipped across the Caspian Sea from the Kazakh port of Aktau to Baku, then by rail to Tbilisi, the Turkish city of Kars and finally, Istanbul is well developed. The second, central route, however, makes it much more expensive to transport cargo from China to Europe and back."
"The Chinese Understand That They Aren't Fellow Travelers To The U.S.; They Pursue Very Different Objectives"
Q: "Some experts argue that China is trying on the role of a leader of the second 'pole' of a bipolar world for two with the US, but without Russia."
A: "I don't think so. This question was discussed during President Barack Obama's visit, I believe, back in 2011, to China, when the Americans offered the Chinese to organize the G2. Beijing refused. China is absolutely not going to pursue its policy dictated by the U.S. China has its own policy.
"It was established by Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. If we to discuss present day, one can read Xi Jinping's writings and his speeches on foreign policy. It very clearly reads that the Chinese have their own line of building a shared society for a single destiny of humanity, their own separate civilization. And the One Belt, One Road initiative is the key to implementing the objectives that the Chinese leadership has set, including in foreign economic relations."
Q: "But a lot of time has passed since Obama's presidency."
A: "What has changed? The Taiwan problem has not gone anywhere..."
Q: "Well, the Ukrainian conflict has appeared..."
A: "The Ukrainian conflict was already in its infancy in 2014. I believe it was clear to the PRC as well. China tried to use it for its own purposes, by drawing Ukraine into the Chinese One Belt One Road Initiative during talks with Viktor Yanukovych back in 2014. Beijing also tried to buy the Ukrainian 'Motor Sich' company to produce aircraft engines they needed. But as a result, the Americans blocked the deal.
"The situation now has not changed much. The Chinese are well aware that the US will block such deals and there will be no cooperation until the issue with Taiwan is resolved.
"According to the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué, the Americans should recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan. Officially they have recognized it, they signed a number of documents in the 1970s and 1990s. But the Americans say one thing and do another in practice.
"They, as before, are aggravating the situation around Taiwan, supplying it with new sorts of weapons, conducting maneuvers with Japan, and setting up the AUKUS military bloc with Australia and Britain. The task of the US is to enjoy a fully controllable unsinkable aircraft carrier of sorts in the form of an island called Taiwan off the coast of China: The Chinese understand that they aren't fellow travelers of the US, they pursue completely different goals."
Q: "What about the [Chinese] plan to settle the Ukrainian conflict, on what will the US and China conduct negotiations?"
A: "There is still no concrete plan. We do not yet know in detail what the plan is. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Li Huei has gone on a 'shuttle democracy' [door-to-door democracy trade] tour of the capitals of the participant countries participating or guarantors of the Minsk agreements: Kyiv, Warsaw, Berlin, Paris, Brussels. The final destination of his visits is Moscow, where he will hold a top-level meeting. He will meet with Sergei Lavrov to discuss how we should deal with the current situation. But it is too early to talk about the settlement plan itself."
Q: "But China has already put forward conditions to Russia for resolving this conflict."
A: "There were 12 points that China put forward in February. The most important Chinese position is to stop hostilities, the shooting and the use of arms, and meanwhile to hold peace talks on that condition. But hostilities are still underway."
Q: "Beijing has also urged Moscow to recognize the territorial integrity of all countries, including Ukraine."
A: "The Chinese didn't say that Russia should return to the 1991 borders. Naturally, China, as one of the world's leading economies, needs to be more active in politics as well. In this way, Beijing is trying to attain a boost to its authority in the international arena. But right now, China's main goal with regard to Ukraine is to stop the hostilities and hold talks. But hostilities continue. Nothing good can come of it. And the Chinese proposals are quite reasonable. But Ukraine does not want to negotiate, so Russia's position is to continue military hostilities."
"Why Does Everyone Use The Terms 'Little Brother,' 'Big Brother'? Were We In The Position Of Big Brother Or Little Brother With Europe When We Supplied Them With Gas Cheaply?"
Q: "Did we miss the chance to team up with China on solving the Ukraine problem?"
A: "We had no chance. We squandered the moment long ago. We had our differences with the PRC back in the 1960s, when we closed all the consulates there and withdrew our specialists. That is when all our problems started. And they still haunt us to this day. Besides, after the denunciation of the Sino-Soviet Treaty of 1950 in 1979, China's official position is not to participate in any alliance."
Q: "Today Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping demonstrate a determination to cooperate. But experts have different views on our relations. In your opinion, are we friends, allies or partners (strategic or situational) with the Chinese today?"
A: "We cannot call each other allies, because the treaty that was signed back in 2001 between our countries on good neighborliness, peace and friendship is different from the alliance treaty of 1950, when in case of military action against one of the parties the other had to take part in it.
"Today Beijing declared that it does not recognize any relations of alliance with any country in the world. That means China will not join any blocs like NATO or the Warsaw Pact that has been dead since 1991. And we must depart from this concept of China's foreign policy."
Q: "So, Russia is in the position of a 'little brother' towards China?"
A: "Why does everyone use the terms 'little brother,' 'big brother'? Were we in the position of big brother or little brother with Europe when we supplied them with gas cheaply? One cannot think in these terms. When a cooperation agreement is signed, the benefits that both sides receive are spelled out. And, naturally, each side has to forgo something. The entire world is based on that principle."
Q: "However, some experts believe that China is solving its problems at Russia's expense and is ascending?"
A: "How is it possible? Russia ranks only 7th in terms of foreign trade with the PRC. China develops at the expense of the EU, the U.S., and Hong Kong, through which it receives 68% of all foreign investment."
Q: "I'm referring to China's political weight. And its increased stance in an increasingly bipolar world..."
A: "True, the world is becoming increasingly bipolar. On one side are the US and the EU and on the other side are Russia, China and the BRICS member-states. But China's political weight is growing because it's an economic superpower. China's banks are among the top ten. The USD share of world trade is gradually decreasing, while the yuan's is gradually increasing. And this is happening irrespective of America's wishes."
Q: "Thus, the world order will not be defined without Russia."
A: "Naturally, Russia has a large military capability, which plays a significant role in the Pacific region. As long as there is a treaty between Russia and China from 2001, the situation does not go beyond arms control."
Q: "And how will we frame our relationship with Beijing?"
A: "The main thing is to develop trade and economic ties. We have signed everything we can in military and political cooperation. And in the trade and economic sphere, we still have many resources, from oil and gas to scientific and technical cooperation, and also in education, sport, and culture. Moscow and Beijing have a great potential for developing relations."
Andrei Ostrovsky the heading reads "China supports Russia" (Source: Radiokp.ru)
 Business-gazeta.ru, June 3, 2023.