ISSUE 1-2003
Александр Куранов Tomas Urbanec
Илья Гайдук Владимир Воронов Игорь Некрасов
Евгений Сергеев Николай Хорунжий
Ярослав Шимов Димитрий Белошевский
Элла Лаврик  & Иван Задорожнюк

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles and/or discussions are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views or positions of the publisher.

By Tomas Urbanec | Urbanec a Pavel, Consulting Company, the Czech Republic | Issue 1, 2003

     Professor Zhao Huasheng, Director of Department of Russian and Central Asian Studies, Shanghai Institute for International Studies was interviewed by journal Russkii vopros on China - Russia relationship.

     China and Russia are neighbors with a long mutual history, and relations between both countries experienced a difficult development. Is the mutual history influencing current Chinese – Russian relations, as is the case of for example Japanese – Russian relations?

     Any current relations have links with its history. Current Chinese-Russian relations are not formed on a vacuum. They are experiencing influence of the history. But the influence could be negative and positive. I think China and Russia have established new relations between them under positive influence of the history. What they learned from the history taught them that a good relationship will be beneficial for both countries, and should not return back to “60th -70th years” in any case.

     Russian concept of multi-polar world gives China a very important position, position of a superpower that is able to face, together with Russia and other countries, the U.S. dominance. The voices of Russia and China sound very similar on a current international policy scene. Can this situation be interpreted as a construction of strategic Chinese – Russian partnership, or is it only a temporary correspondence with foreign policy interests of both countries? What are the elementary principles of Chinese foreign policy towards Russia?

     Similarity of the basic positions of China and Russia towards the perspective of the new world order after the cold war serves as the most important basis for strategic partnership between them. This similarity comes from the fact that both of them are in similar situation in forming the new world order. Both of them don’t like that one country dominates the world. Multi-polar world is in the interest of both China and Russia, and in interest of most of other countries. Multi-polar world means that, besides America, the other countries also have the possibility to play active role in international affairs. China never thinks of itself as of a superpower, and it never takes America as a natural rival to China. China has no interest to confront America. Sino-Russian cooperation benefits both countries, not only China. Being good neighbors and strategic partners—these are the elementary principles of Chinese foreign policy towards Russia.

     Regarding the future, there are many speculations about the “unavoidable” Chinese – Russian confrontation. Tom Clancy, author of popular novels, states in his work “The Bear and the Dragon” as one of the possible reasons of such confrontation the following: “China has a lot of people and not enough space, and the Russians have not too many people and a lot of space.” It is not only the above mentioned literature fiction, this issue is an object of serious considerations of certain Russian political scientists who point out to prowling vanguard of this expansion in a form of Chinese migration to Russia. Objections can be heard in Russian military ranks from time to time that Russian supplies of military equipment to China is actually supplement of arms to a future enemy… How would you comment these considerations?

     While some people constantly talk about "unavoidable" Chinese-Russian confrontation, Sino-Russian relations are getting better and better. They have settled 99% of border problems, make their border demarcated, established the strategic partnership, and signed the big treaty. But one can't expect that there are no problems at all. It's unimaginable for any mutual relationship, especially for such big countries like China and Russia. Of course, if China and Russia are not clever enough, they may get into confrontation. If they want to see the other as enemy, they may get an enemy. But I think both China and Russia have enough wisdom not to run into confrontation, and they don't want to make the other an enemy. As to the problem of migration, legal migration is a common phenomenon in a globalized world. Illegal migration is a problem. It's also a common problem over the world. But the number of illegal Chinese migration to Russia is greatly exaggerated, its character is artificially politicized. There are a lot of reasons. China is very serious in fighting illegal migration. Now China and Russia also cooperate on this issue. The scope of illegal Chinese migration to Russia is not big and should be downsized. Expansion of Chinese migration to Russia is a myth. Military-technical cooperation is a part of overall cooperation between China and Russia. It demonstrates that Sino-Russian relations have reached a very high degree. The relationship of Russia and China is now on friendly terms, and China aims to follow this path into the future as well, so there is no precondition to say that Russia now arms a future enemy by selling weapons to China. Military-technical cooperation benefits the two countries. For China, it could help to speed up its military modernization. For Russia, it could help its military industry, indirectly, its defense potential also. Politically, military-technical cooperation could help the mutual relations go closer.

     Looking at the category of real global players, then the triangle China – U.S.A. – Russia is the fundamental part. Regarding the foreign policy, it seems as if China is on better terms with its northern neighbor. But when we take a look at the mutual trade volumes, then Chinese – American trade is on much higher levels than the Chinese – Russian trade. Don’t you consider this fact a contradictory one? What are Chinese priorities in the sphere of Chinese – Russian economy relations for the future? What projects are of a top priority for China?

     The reason why Sino-American trade is on much higher levels than the Sino-Russian trade is simple: America's economy is much bigger than that of Russia. The GDP of America is 30 times larger than that of Russia. But Sino-American trade is only about 8 times more than Sino-Russian trade. So I don't think there is any contradiction. It doesn't mean that the current state of Sino-Russian economic cooperation is satisfying to the two sides. Actually, both countries make great efforts to stimulate their cooperation in economic sphere. Mutual trade has been growing very fast in the recent two years. China pays very great attention to development of economic cooperation with Russia, and takes Russia as one of its very important economic partners. It's also important to point out the great potential that exists for China and Russia.

     Development of Chinese society earned itself a respect within the past decades. Chinese model is a matter of regular discussion in Russia, and there are also opinions that Russia should follow the same path. Could the Russian experience be transferable to Russian conditions? Frequent visits of Russian representatives in China could be signaling an effort to learn from dynamic processes happening in China…

     Both China and Russia are in transformation from planned economy to market economy. A lot of problems the two societies encounter are very similar. So it's would be useful for the two countries to study and learn from each other, both from the successes and lessons. But that doesn't mean to copy someone's model. China and Russia are very big countries with different conditions. They should find the way that is the most appropriate to their conditions.

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Александр Куранов
Илья Гайдук
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