Editor's note: China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit Russia on April 4 and 5 as President Xi Jinping's special envoy. Three experts share their views on future China-Russia relations with China Daily's Pan Yixuan. Excerpts follow:
Even without an alliance, mutual trust is possible
China and Russia have maintained friendly relations for decades. The two countries have similar goals－to build a harmonious global environment and realize their respective national rejuvenation. And their leaders, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, have agreed to seek common ground for development.
China and Russia have developed friendly relations through the strategic partnership of cooperation they inked in 1996, which was elevated to a comprehensive level in 2014. In 2001, the two countries signed the Chinese-Russian Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship, vowing to maintain long-lasting peace. And since 2006, they have maintained regular communication also at the cultural, tourism, youth and media levels. Such activities have added vigor to and enhanced trust in their relationship, bringing their peoples closer.
Besides, during Putin's new term as president, the Eurasian Economic Union, including Russia, is highly likely to deepen its cooperation with China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.
However, the China-Russia friendship is different from an alliance, because even without forming an alliance, the two countries can cooperate and negotiate on many regional and global issues, and resolve their differences according to international rules. Beijing and Moscow will continue to make joint efforts to safeguard their respective national security as well as help maintain global peace and stability.
Neighbors will deepen cooperation in new fields
Since the Western sanctions have created many problems for its economy, Russia is likely to focus on improving domestic economic development. Despite that, its relations with China will remain strong.
Thanks to the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation, Beijing and Moscow have elevated their ties to a high level. As Xi told Putin over the phone recently, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership has reached its best-ever phase, setting an example of a new type of major-country relationship of fairness and win-win cooperation.
The two sides have supported each other to protect their core interests, and vowed to enhance communication and cooperation on global and regional issues. And as emerging economies, both need technological development, for which they are likely to deepen cooperation, for instance, in trade.
From 2013 to 2017, Russia's trade with China increased from 10.5 percent to 14.7 percent of its total trade. This trend may gain pace if the cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road Initiative deepens. Also, China can play an important role in Russia's priority task of developing the Far East, and in the next phase the two sides can have deeper cooperation in energy, aerospace, and military sectors.
Impossible to break bilateral relations
Close interactions and deeper cooperation between China and Russia have boosted regional development, even international development.
To achieve national rejuvenation, China has set the "Two Centenary Goals"－of building a moderately prosperous society by 2020 and a great, modern, socialist country by 2050－and Russia has adopted strategies to develop into a stronger power. To achieve their respective goals, the two countries need a neighbor with great potential and similar development needs for beneficial cooperation, and both China and Russia have that potential.
As Premier Li Keqiang said at a press conference, Beijing and Moscow can deepen their cooperation in innovation to promote bilateral trade, in order to increase the total value to $100 billion from more than $80 billion in 2017.
Russia may attempt to improve relations with the West, which would take a long time, because after the Ukraine crisis anti-Russian sentiment has become widespread in many Western countries, and many Russians are angry with the West for imposing a series of sanctions on Russia.
Therefore, the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation with China will play a significant role in Russia's development in both the long and short term.