ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA— China’s president came to St. Petersburg for the G-20 meeting, and while most leaders were distracted by Syria, he was pushing business deals.
China’s foreign policy looked like its energy policy as President Xi Jinping presided over a major gas deal in Russia Thursday.
Russian gas giant Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation signed the basic conditions for a long-term deal to supply at least 38 billion cubic meters of Russian gas a year to China.
The project envisions the construction of a new Russian pipeline to China by 2018.
Xi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and cited the gas deal as one of 50 joint projects that have advanced since the two leaders met in March six months ago.
They met in St. Petersburg, where Putin is hosting the annual meeting of the Group of 20 nations.
At this meeting, Zhu Guangyao, China’s deputy finance minister, warned of the economic cost of any U.S. attack on Syria’s military. President Barack Obama wants to attack military targets in Syria as punishment for the Syrian government’s apparent use of poison gas to kill 1,400 civilians.
"Military action would push oil prices higher, hurting the world economy. This year, China is expected to displace the United States as the world’s largest net oil importer," said Zhu Guangyao.
China’s president came to Russia from Turkmenistan. On Wednesday, he inaugurated a gas processing facility at a massive new field on the border with Afghanistan.
China has lent Turkmenistan $8 billion to develop the field.
Beijing also has financed the 1,800-kilometer pipeline that will take the gas across Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to China. Because of this pipeline, Turkmenistan is now China’s largest supplier of gas.
The new field will allow Turkmenistan to triple its gas exports to China by the end of this decade.