Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is in China today on his first trip abroad after his election last March. Here he will meet his Chinese counterpart, President Hu Jintao, and other Chinese leaders to strengthen trade and strategic ties between the two powerful “friends”.
Trade between the old rivals reached US$ 48.17 billion last year and China is already Moscow’s second most important trading partner after the European Union. China is vying for Russian metals and oil and has been putting pressure for a direct pipeline to Russia’s oil fields.
Both powers are also interested in working together to share influence in Central Asia and counter US dominance.
Both have been criticised by the West over human rights, democracy and freedom of the press as well as their “interventions’ in Chechnya and Tibet, which both consider purely “internal affairs.”
With four Central Asian nations the two have set up the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which in just a few years ago has become an important forum for economic and political cooperation.
Analysts stress that the Kremlin’s desire to increase trade and political ties with the East is accompanied by cooler relations with Europe and the United States.
However, Moscow remains weary of its Chinese rival, especially when it comes to the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.
It is significant that in his stopover in Kazakhstan where he met Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Medvedev discussed military cooperation between the two countries and insisted that Kazakh oil be exported via Russian pipelines.
One pipeline however links Kazakhstan and China, highlighting the danger that Russia might lose its grip over these nations.
russia chia dmitry medvedev visit trade strategic ties hu jintao central asia rivals shanghai cooperation organization oil