CORDIAL CHAT: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao chats with Russian representatives after presenting awards for outstanding contributions in Sino-Russian energy cooperation and Chinese language and culture at a ceremony in Russia on November 24 (XIE HUANCHI)
Russia's willingness to participate in security cooperation in the region is quite valuable, especially in the absence of a fixed military and political mechanism—like NATO—in the Asia Pacific region, said Liu Guiling, another research fellow with CICIR,
The two sides also said China and Russia will use the yuan and the ruble in bilateral trade settlement. The Russian ruble is already traded on the Chinese stock exchange. The Chinese yuan is starting trading in Moscow in December. Liu said this move will safeguard the two countries' economic security and facilitate future bilateral trade.
Strengthening energy cooperation was also on the agenda of the two nations. Wen said both China and Russia should deepen bilateral cooperation in gas and oil, nuclear energy, coal, power and other fields.
In fact, the China-Russia oil pipeline—years in construction—was completed this year, signaling a new stage in energy cooperation between the two countries. Medvedev opened the Chinese section of the pipeline during his visit to China in September. The project is important because it will allow Russia to diversify its energy exports and make China's external energy supply more secure.
MEETING OF TOP MINDS: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (center) attends the ninth SCO prime ministers' meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on November 25 (JU PENG)
With the completion of the pipeline, cooperation in the areas of crude oil extraction, transportation, processing and sales will speed up. According to an agreement signed last year, China will loan $25 billion to Russia, in exchange for 15 million tons of oil each year from 2011 to 2030. In the meantime, China and Russia are expected to reach an agreement next year for Russia to supply China 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually beginning in 2015.
Wen's meetings with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Prime Minister Akil Akilov during his recent visit to Tajikistan underscored the importance of relations between the two countries.
"The bilateral cooperation between China and Tajikistan has developed steadily all these years. Their cooperation serves as a good example of China's cooperation with other SCO member states," said Wang of CICIR.
Since the two countries established diplomatic ties 18 years ago, bilateral relations have enjoyed healthy and steady development and have borne much fruit.
The rapid increase in economic activity between the two countries is a measure of growing ties. Trade increased from $10.76 million in 2001 to $1.5 billion in 2008. Even in 2009, under the impact of the financial crisis, trade still hit $1.4 billion. Now China is Tajikistan's second largest trading partner.
The two countries have also cooperated in other areas. China supported Tajikistan in 2009 when it suffered from natural disasters and terrorist threats.
Speaking with the Tajik prime minister, Wen said the development of relations between China and Tajikistan has brought real benefits to the two peoples. Wen also said China attaches great importance to cooperation with Tajikistan in such fields as transportation, electricity and infrastructure. He said he hopes the two sides will strengthen coordination and effectively implement China's aid projects in Tajikistan. He also said he hoped China and Tajikistan will cooperate in the mining and agriculture sectors to promote common development.
Akilov said the implementation of major cooperation projects plays an important role in helping improve the livelihood of the Tajik people. He said bilateral relations are truly good enough to serve as a model for friendly cooperation between a big country and its neighbors.
Akilov also said he welcomed more Chinese enterprises to establish businesses and invest in Tajikistan, especially in the fields of mineral resources, agriculture and transportation.
After their talks, the two leaders signed a joint communiqué and witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation agreements in agriculture, finance, electricity and transportation.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made a six-point proposal for enhancing practical cooperation of the SCO at the ninth prime ministers' meeting.
First, the SCO countries should boost the vitality of economic and trade cooperation. They should stick to the principle of government guidance, encourage enterprises to expand cooperation according to market regulations and rely on science and technology in a bid to accelerate regional economic development.
Second, they should expand energy cooperation. The member countries should safeguard energy transportation security, jointly develop wind energy and solar energy and enhance the effective use of energy.
Third, they should accelerate infrastructure construction such as highways, railways and information highways, to advance regional communication.
Fourth, the SCO member countries should strengthen agricultural cooperation, conduct research on establishing an SCO food security cooperation mechanism. China is willing to help other SCO member states set up hi-tech agricultural demonstration areas.
Fifth, they should deepen financial and monetary cooperation among the SCO member states. The member countries should expand business financing channels, conduct researches on establishing an SCO development bank, discuss new ways of joint financing and joint benefiting and expand cooperation on local currency settlement to promote regional economic and trade exchanges.
Finally, they should push forward capacity building and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The SCO countries should further improve the contingency mechanism for handling natural disasters, public health and other emergencies at border areas.
China is willing to train Chinese language teachers and senior management staff for SCO member states, organize the first university students' art festival for the SCO and conduct communication and cooperation with SCO member states in traditional Chinese medicine.