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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Xi and Putin: ‘Strange Bedfellows’

News Analysis |

China’s President, Xi Jinping expressed his heartiest felicitation to Russian President, Putin on his remarkable victory in elections on a telephone call on March 19, 2018.  He won the elections getting more than 76 percent of the vote, more than the 65, 71 and 52 percent polled in the last three elections since he became the president in 2000.

Xi asserted that Russian people will continue to reap benefits by making new national developments under Putin and Russia-China bilateral relations will be strengthened.

In the contemporary international political arena, both countries are revitalizing their power. Moreover, their cooperation on various walks of life will open new avenues of development.

Read more: Putin outsmarts rivals: Comes back to power stronger than ever

Recent developments in the economic and trade relationship between China and Russia

Xi’s visit to Russia in May 2015, in which they have signed joint declarations to deepen their comprehensive partnership and cooperation under China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), has marked a new boom in their bilateral relations. Furthermore, bilateral trade is constantly increasing in the past few years. Now, China has become the biggest trading partner to Russia and an important source of foreign investment in the country, while Russia is one of China’s main sources of imports of energy and high technology. The trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $6.55 billion in January 2017. China’s exports to Russia grew 29.5 percent, reaching $3.41 billion, while imports from Russia increased by 39.3 percent – up to $3.14 billion. In 2016, the trade turnover between Russia and China increased by 2.2 percent, with the annual figure standing at $69.525 billion. Both countries are also working on other areas of cooperation such as cross-border e-commerce, the Eastern Route Pipeline, in satellite navigation systems, tourism, exchanges of visits of their diplomats, jointly conducted festivals and joint development and production of long-haul wide-body aircraft which will boost their cooperation resulting in giving benefits to the people of both countries.

However, Putin will resume power until 2024 according to the new constitutional limits. It seems that Russian people are quite satisfied with his performance for the development of his country for resurgence which has been demonstrated through the latest elections. On the other side, China’s Xi has also confirmed its “N” term of the presidency by China’s National People’s Congress. It is quite interesting to know that both are working to enhance trade and connectivity. Initially, Russia opposed China’s BRI initiative and promoting its own EAEU to integrate Eurasian economy. But currently, a debate has been generated in order to align China’s BRI with Russia’s EAEU because BRI also includes Russia and UK. Simultaneously, many countries are common in both initiatives. In this regard Shanghai Cooperation Organization and play a constructive role by harmonizing the strategic interests of both Russia and China.

Read more: Putin: Russia’s post-Soviet Tsar

Russia-China cooperation will be constructive for Pakistan

It is pertinent to discuss here that Pakistan can get more benefits from Russia-China bilateral cooperation or rapprochement. China is a cordial and time-tested friend of Pakistan, subsequently; the latter could be engaged in more joint ventures with Russia too including counter-terrorism strategies, extensive military exercises, maritime activities, energy projects and trade activities. Though Russia is a traditional strategic partner of India but the current global geopolitical and geo-economic environment is reflecting India’s almost entire inclination towards the US. Therefore, the dynamic leader of Russia “Putin” is expanding its strategic partners including Pakistan. These all conditions are favorable for Pakistan to seek countries other than the US though engaging itself in multiple projects in which Russia-Pakistan energy deals are contributory factors in strengthening their bilateral relations. This will generate certain prospects for the successful completion of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor under BRI. In addition, Pakistan is not moving ahead at the cost of current strained Pakistan-US relations. Pakistan is equally trying to improve its bilateral relations with the US. In a nutshell, both Putin and Xi will sustain their power until they will be working to bring new political, economic reforms in their respective countries and regions.