Putin's Lengthy China Stay Demonstrates Foreign Policy Tilt
Vladimir Putin is winding up his three-day state visit to China and is extending his stay there for meeting a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that Russia and China dominate.
The Russian president met with China's current leadership, as well as with the designated successors Vice President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who will be replacing Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, respectively, this year.
The joint document the two issued stressed the strategic partnership between the two countries and the emphasis that both countries attached to the principles of noninterference, sovereignty, and non-confrontation. These are values China and Russia are counterposing to the democracy-human rights approach favored by the United States and the European Union.
The communiquéי stressed cooperation on large-scale economic projects and expanding trade, but also on "enhancing bilateral military ties".
According to Putin the two countries plan to cooperate in the aviation industry on long-range passenger jets and helicopters, obviously with a view to challenging Western dominance in these fields.
The comparatively long time that Putin is spending in China bears comparison with his snub of the G-8 meeting in the United States and his whistle stops in Berlin and Paris. The disparity appears to indicate that Russia is placing its chips on China in terms of economic cooperation.
During the Russian presidential campaign, Putin expressed his hopes to ride the coattails of Chinese economic growth. "I am convinced that China's economic growth is by no means a threat, but a challenge that carries colossal potential for business cooperation a chance to catch the Chinese wind in the sails of our economy,".
This is also a Russian reaction to the continued crisis of the European Union. Europe formerly occupied a major place in Russian plans for economic development.
An article in the semi-official Russia Today claimed that Russia was also offering China a military shoulder, given the American pivot to beef up US military power in the Asia-Pacific region to counter China, while also building up regional bilateral and multilateral relations with states similarly alarmed by China's military growth.
Joint exercises between Russian and Chinese naval vessels emphasize the growing alliance.
This may be the new Russian 'carrots to China' as opposed to the energy card. China has not been quick to sign a new gas agreement with Russia and is using Central Asia as an energy alternative to Russia.In addition, China hopes, like the United States, to exploit its shale oil reserves to develop its own sources of energy.