News / Europe

    Russia’s Putin Seeks to Upgrade Ties to China

    Chinese President Hu Jintao (r) and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pose prior to the talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Oct. 12, 2011
    Chinese President Hu Jintao (r) and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pose prior to the talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Oct. 12, 2011
    James Brooke

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has chosen China for his first foreign trip after unveiling his political plan to rule Russia for the next decade.

    China has overtaken Germany to become Russia’s top trading partner. Trade is up by 45 percent this year, and could triple by the end of this decade to $200 billion.  So Prime Minister Putin visited Beijing to strengthen his nation’s most important bilateral tie.

    The Russian leader spoke in Beijing about growing trade and investment. At every chance, he spoke of the opportunities for joint ventures in such high-tech fields as space, medicine, airplane construction and biotechnology. But at the end of the two-day trip, the biggest deal was for a $1.5 billion Chinese investment in an aluminum smelter in Siberia.

    Russians' increasing fear is that they are fated to become to China what Canada is to the United States - a convenient source of oil, gas, minerals, timber and other raw materials.

    Anatol Lieven, a professor at King’s College London, is studying the impact of the rise of China on Russia.

    “Russia, as a whole, would be reduced to something like being the Canada to a Chinese United States," said Lieven. "That’s a prospect that the Russian elites find absolutely unacceptable.”

    For the first decade, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a major portion of Russia’s exports to China was high-tech - largely fighter jets and missile systems. But, increasingly, Russia complains that China is copying its Sukhoi fighter jets and other advanced military technologies. Last week, the successor agency to the KGB arrested a Chinese national in Moscow on suspicion of trying to buy blueprints for Russia’s prized S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile system.

    “Arms sales in the last five years have plummeted," said Linda Jakobson, the lead author of a new report on China-Russia relations for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. "The reason is the Chinese have bought pretty much everything that the Russians are willing or able to sell.

    The other leg of the Russia-China relationship was energy sales. But here Russia also has lost its edge.

    For 16 years, Russia and China have been negotiating the construction of two gas lines from Siberia to China. While the Russians bargained on and on over price, the Chinese built a gas line from the Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan to China.

    On Tuesday, a British auditing company ranked a gas field in Turkmenistan as the second largest in the world.  Now, Turkmenistan, once a Russian colony, plans to ship 60 billion cubic meters of gas a year to China - nearly the same volume that Russia has been talking about since the 1990s.

    “The potential for a really substantial gas partnership existed when they started to negotiate the building of two natural gas pipelines from Russia to China 16 years ago," Linda Jakobson said from Sydney, Australia, where she directs the East Asia Department of the Lowy Institute. "In the meantime, in the gas sector, as also in oil, China has made tremendous efforts to diversify," she said.

    Russia, the largest oil producer in the world, long assumed that it had China over a barrel - a captive market. But while the Russians negotiated endlessly about price formulas, China diversified.

    “Russia has not become a major energy provider to China," said Anatol Lieven. "It is a significant provider. But Russia still provides the same amount of energy as Iran and only the same amount as Angola.”

    If sea lanes to China become vulnerable, Russia will regain its competitive edge. But, for now, Jakobson says:

    “Russia is only the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to China today. Because China has very successfully diversified its supplies of crude oil.”

    Lieven says that China has grown so powerful so fast that Russia would not dare to join an alliance with NATO or the United States. Instead, he predicts, that Russia will preserve its autonomy from China by avoiding needless conflicts with Washington.

    He predicts that in the next Putin decade, the Kremlin will avoid:

    “A diminuition of gratuitious Russian troublemaking, probably in the Baltics, in relations with Venezuela, that kind of thing."

    Jakobson, who recently completed a 20-year stay in Beijing, said she was struck by how many Chinese have become condescending toward Russia. She recalled an interview she conducted earlier this year with a Chinese political scientist. He grudgingly admitted that China may not like the United States and Japan, but there are things that China can learn from both societies. But he was disdainful of Russia.

    “'But Russia? What do we have to learn from Russia? This nonchalance, nearly overbearing view, that is on the rise in China towards Russia is very telling of the change in perceptions on the Chinese side of Russia," she said.

    As Prime Minister Putin maps out his decade ahead, he clearly identifies China’s rapid rise as a big challenge for Russia.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.