REGULAR MEETING: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao meets with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on November 23, marking the 15th annual meeting between Chinese and Russian prime ministers (YAO DAWEI)
Political ties and economic cooperation were strengthened between China and the Eurasia region countries, when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao undertook a round of high-level diplomacy in Russia and Tajikistan.
Wen's activities included official visits to the two countries, a meeting with the Russian prime minister and participation in the ninth annual Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) prime ministerial meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi called Wen's trip on November 22-25 a "major diplomatic action of China" in the region.
China also signed a total of 50 bilateral and multilateral documents in association with Wen's visits.
Wen joined leaders of the five other SCO member countries—Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan—for the group's one-day meeting on November 25.
"Economic cooperation was emphasized at this meeting," said Wang Lijiu, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR).
The emphasis on economic cooperation represents a shift from the group's original focus. The SCO was formed in 2001 as a non-military alliance devoted to improving mutual security in Central Asia.
Security remains an important concern of the group, however. At the meeting, SCO prime ministers agreed to intensify the fight against the "three evil forces" of extremism, separatism and terrorism, and to safeguard regional security and stability. Speaking to the group, Wen called on SCO countries to rely on their collective power to better safeguard regional peace and stability.
Since the 2008 global financial crisis, however, economic ties among the member states have strengthened. From January to October, for example, China's trade volume with SCO member states reached $67.9 billion, up 37.4 percent from the previous year.
FIRM PARTNERS: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao shakes hands with Tajik Prime Minister Akil Akilov in Dushanbe on November 25 (ZHANG DUO)
In order to secure the group's growing economic ties, prime ministers pledged to enhance coordination in economic policy in order to promote trade and investment. In addition, they promised to deepen cooperation in disaster relief, education and culture and promote sustainable development in the region.
To help achieve the group's goals, Wen called for deepening financial and monetary cooperation among SCO member states. He said members should expand business financing channels, conduct research on establishing an SCO development bank, and expand cooperation on local currency settlement issues in order to promote regional economic cooperation and trade.
Wen also urged members to promote comprehensive and balanced economic, social and cultural development. The move, said the premier, would not only help member states, but also help make the SCO more united and appealing to others.
Wen met with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on November 22, marking the 15th annual meeting between Chinese and Russian prime ministers.
During the meeting, Wen told Putin the China-Russia strategic partnership has developed to an unprecedentedly high level, and has a solid foundation and huge potential. Wen said the partnership provides strategic support for each country's respective development and serves as an important guarantee for world peace and stability. Wen also said developing ties with Russia is a priority of China's foreign policy.
Wen's following talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev came only two months after their meeting in Beijing. The dialogue took place against the backdrop of heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, after North Korea and South Korea exchanged fire on November 23.
Wen and Medvedev agreed that restarting six-party talks is essential to securing stability and denuclearization on the peninsula. They agreed China and Russia should work vigorously to achieve this goal. Medvedev said Russia is ready to cooperate with China within bilateral and multilateral frameworks to keep peace and stability on the peninsula.