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Guan Zhaoyu: Defense minister’s Russia tour forges ties


By Guan Zhaoyu     Source: Global Times    Published: 2018-4-2

At the invitation of Russian Defense Minister, General of the Army Sergey Shoigu, Wei Fenghe, a China State Councilor and minister of national defense, embarked on his visit to Russia on Sunday. It is Wei`s first official overseas tour after taking office and gave rise to speculation over the reason for his choice in media. Is it a natural move for sound Sino-Russian ties? Or a calculated step when Russian diplomats are being expelled from the US and the EU and Beijing is facing a possible trade war with Washington?

Over the years, cooperation between China and Russia has kept enhancing under the promotion of leadership from both sides. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination has been maintained at a high level of development. Both Beijing and Moscow are committed to the integration between the Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road initiative. Collaboration between the two sides over infrastructure, energy, security, finance, investment and information networks has continued to deepen.

China and Russia have also maintained close communication and coordination in international affairs. They are strengthening their cooperation under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

On June 7, Chang Wanquan, former state councilor and minister of defense, met Shoigu during the 14th conference of defense ministers of SCO member states in Astana, Kazakhstan. The two signed a road map on military cooperation for 2017-20, which was a top-level design and overall planning of Sino-Russian military cooperation during the period. It embodied the high-level strategic mutual trust and strategic coordination between the two countries, and favored the two sides` working together in coping with new security threats and challenges and maintaining regional peace and stability.

Faced with the global threat of terrorism, Beijing and Moscow have stepped up their cooperation in intelligence sharing and joint operations in border areas. The US often flexes its military muscle in the Asia-Pacific region by sending aircraft carriers. Washington also deployed the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea. Both moves offended the strategic interests of China and Russia. Therefore, it is reasonable and necessary for Beijing and Moscow to strengthen their military cooperation.

The two sides have plenty of room, including anti-terror collaboration in Central Asia under the framework of SCO, coordination in confronting strategic threats from the Western nations as well as joint works in military technologies and equipment.

China and Russia have carried out security cooperation within the multilateral framework of the SCO and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia. They have also advocated a new concept of security, maintained peace in Central Asia, West Asia and other regions and proactively participated in the resolution of hotspot issues such as those in Afghanistan. Displaying their stable ties will play a crucial role in resisting pressure from Western nations.

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has set the direction for the bilateral relationship. China and Russia are each other`s only comprehensive strategic collaborative partnership, which fully reflects the particularity of their ties. It means that relations between the two major powers have reached an unprecedentedly high level.

The bilateral comprehensive strategic collaborative partnership is mainly reflected in six aspects. The two are jointly assuming the responsibility of maintaining world peace and stability, cooperating closely in establishing a space of Eurasia, strengthening multilateral coordination in SCO and BRICS, jointly fighting terrorism, proactively promoting practical cooperation in investment, economics and trade and deepening people-to-people as well as cultural exchanges.

Russia was the right choice for Wei`s first destination after taking office.

The tour will play an important role in promoting the development of relations between the armed forces of both sides, safeguarding the common interests of the two countries and maintaining peace and stability in the region and the world.

Guan Zhaoyu, associate research fellow with Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.

Key Words: Sino-Russian corporation, military, Guan Zhaoyu  

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