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New era of friendship between nations

Updated : 2024-05-17

By ( China Daily )

The eighth China-Russia Expo is being held in Harbin, Heilongjiang province. [Photo/IC]
China and Russia strengthen economic and trade cooperation in sign of enduring partnership.
In a significant display of strategic partnership, China and Russia have taken steps to enhance their relations across trade, culture and investment, ushering in a new era between the two nations.
Liu Xuesong, director-general of Eurasian affairs at China's Ministry of Commerce, said at a recent news conference for the eighth China-Russia Expo that the two are neighbors connected by mountains and rivers, with deep foundations of friendship.
Strengthening bilateral relations aligns with the fundamental interests of both countries and their people. In recent years, bilateral economic and trade cooperation has overcome complex external environments, demonstrating vitality and vigor, Liu said.
He mentioned that both countries have been making solid progress in cooperation projects in such fields as energy, aviation and aerospace. Currently, robust cooperation is flourishing between localities of the two countries, with interactions at various levels and across different sectors becoming more frequent.
As an example, the ongoing China-Russia Expo in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, has coastal regions such as Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu participating. This is in addition to Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning and Shandong provinces and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, which are known for their cooperation with Russia. The Russian exhibition areas have expanded from the Far East to the central and western regions.
The expo is showcasing more than 5,000 products across 10 sectors in more than 20 categories, and is expected to attract enterprises in such fields as industry, agriculture, trade and logistics from both nations. The event is holding 40 activities to highlight local cooperation, economic and trade investment, sci-tech and education.
Liu said that in the future, China will take active measures with Russia to consolidate the scale of trade in major commodities such as energy, minerals and foodstuffs; expand cooperation in new emerging areas including service trade, the digital economy and green low-carbon sectors; accelerate the development of new business formats, such as cross-border e-commerce and overseas warehouses; create new growth points in areas such as pharmaceuticals, healthcare and the digital economy; and enhance ties in energy and mineral resources, agricultural and forestry development, industrial manufacturing and other upstream and downstream sectors.
Both sides will enhance policy communication, accelerate the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union, or EAEU, implement the agreement between China and the EAEU on economic and trade cooperation and enhance the level of trade and investment assistance and liberalization to create a favorable environment for expanding bilateral trade, he added.
In 2023, the volume of goods traded between China and Russia increased by 26.3 percent year-on-year, reaching $240.11 billion and surpassing the targets set by the leaders of both countries ahead of schedule. China has maintained its position as Russia's largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years, while Russia has risen to become China's eighth-largest trading partner.
According to data released by the General Administration of Customs, the trade volume between China and Russia in the first four months of this year was $76.58 billion, a 4.7 percent increase year-on-year.
In recent years, China-Russia economic and trade cooperation has shown resilience and complementarity, with the structure of bilateral trade continuously improving. In 2023, China's exportation of mechanical and electrical products to Russia surged by 69 percent year-on-year.
High-tech product exports grew by 22.4 percent year-on-year and automotive and parts exports soared by 374 percent year-on-year. China exported more than 900,000 vehicles to Russia, making it the country's largest export destination for automobiles. Chinese-branded products such as mobile phones, TVs, washing machines and refrigerators are increasingly being favored by Russian consumers for their high quality and cost-effectiveness.
The role of the energy trade as a cornerstone in bilateral trade has become prominent, with Russia being a major source of coal, crude oil and natural gas imports for China. In 2023, China imported 107 million metric tons of crude oil from Russia, a 24 percent increase year-on-year. In the first quarter of this year, China imported 28.53 million tons of crude oil from Russia, up 12.9 percent year-on-year.
Zhang Hanhui, China's ambassador to Russia, recently stated in an interview with Russia Today that from the perspective of market demand, the prospects for China-Russia energy cooperation are broad.
He believes that with efforts from both sides, the China-Russia crude oil trade and other aspects will maintain healthy and stable development. In the face of fluctuations in the global energy market, China has consistently made positive contributions to global energy security.
Zhang also mentioned that this year marks the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Russia. Both sides will take the opportunity of celebrating the 75th anniversary and hosting the China-Russia Cultural Year to comprehensively implement the consensus reached by the two countries' leaders, enhance the alignment of their development plans and promote pragmatic cooperation in various fields.
China is willing to work with Russia to strengthen strategic cooperation within multilateral platforms such as the BRICS organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, he added.
The China-Russia Cultural Year has been instrumental in fostering mutual understanding and strengthening people-to-people ties. Tourism cooperation has played a pivotal role in this regard.
The ambassador said China and Russia are important source countries and tourist destinations for each other. Tourism cooperation plays a vital part in driving related industries and solidifying the social foundation of the comprehensive strategic partnership in the new era, Zhang said.
Since 2023, Russia has been included in the first batch of 20 pilot countries for outbound group travel by Chinese citizens. The mutual exemption policy for group tourist visas between China and Russia has led to a surge in visits by tourists from both countries.
Statistics show that the number of Russian tourists visiting China in 2023 reached 997,900. Additionally, the tourism authorities of both China and Russia have maintained close communication and good interaction through multilateral cooperation mechanisms.
"I believe that with the continuous improvement of top-level design in the field of tourism cooperation between the two countries, the implementation of various favorable policies and the continuous improvement of infrastructure conditions, China-Russia tourism cooperation will usher in greater development," Zhang said.
According to a recent think tank report titled Creating New Channels: Sino-Russian Investment Landscape, Challenges and Recommendations, jointly authored by scholars from both countries, the two governments should create new channels and utilize bilateral and multilateral platforms to boost mutual trust and expand cooperation in investment areas.
For example, within the framework of the BRI and the EAEU, China and Russia should diversify their transport models, accelerate the diversification of the China-Europe (Russia) freight train service routes and launch key projects such as the Binhai-1 and Binhai-2 land-sea intermodal international transport corridor and the China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor to better serve bilateral economic and trade cooperation.
The report also suggests providing additional support to small and medium-sized enterprises in areas such as tax reduction and fee reduction. In terms of infrastructure, both sides should accelerate the construction of a transport network mainly based on railways and ports, leveraging China's vitalization of the Northeast bases and Russia's Far East development strategy to promote the long-term development of free trade zones.
It emphasizes that optimizing the investment and business environment, improving the internet environment and building a smooth cultural exchange platform are effective measures to bolster bilateral investment.

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