Beijing (AsiaNews) - Chinese President Hu Jintao met Vladimir Putin today. The Russian leader is on his first visit to China since his re-election as president of Russia. The visit is set to last until 7 June and is part of the 12th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) scheduled for tomorrow and Thursday.
The Russian leader is taking to Beijing six cabinet ministers, the head of gas giant Gazprom and other energy companies. Some 17 major business and trade deals between Russia and China are expected to be signed in Beijing. Bilateral trade is expected to reach US$ 100 billion in 2015 and US$ 200 billion by 2020
For international media, the Syrian crisis was probably a major issue in talks between Putin and Hu. Although both Moscow and Beijing oppose any foreign military intervention in the Mideast country, the meeting has even greater geopolitical relevance. Closer economic ties between China and Russia would create an alliance between a fast-growing energy-hungry country and an energy-rich nation,
In an editorial Xinhua stressed that such an alliance would make "the Eurasia region one of the most dynamic parts in the world."
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is one way of doing that. Established in 2001 to increase security and counter terrorism (especially Islamic), it originally had six members, namely China, Russia and four former Soviet republics (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan). But rapidly, the organisation took on an economic function.
At present, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status within SCO whilst Belarus and Sri Lanka are partners. Tomorrow's meeting will see Afghanistan and Turkey join as observer and partner respectively.
The summit will also push for a regional bank and a transnational transportation network.
For Xinhua, SCO is becoming an increasingly "influential regional grouping" with security and economic cooperation as its "two wheels".
Closer ties between China and Russia would also give SCO greater influence in possible reforms to the international monetary and financial systems.