During his recent address to parliament Vladimir Putin put China at the top of the list of Russia’s’ partners in the world. The Japanese journalists inquired whether China really was Russia’s number one partner in the world. ”Absolutely,” Putin replied.
He added that China was Russia’s ’ biggest trading partner and mentioned a list of major joint projects in energy, logistics, machine-building, helicopter and plane design and construction.
He also mentioned plans of the joint construction of a high-speed railway between Moscow and Kazan, its possible extension to Kazakhstan and China, and the growing scale of cooperation between Russian and Chinese regions.
Vladimir Putin emphasized the high degree of political trust between the two countries, which see eye to eye on major issues of international life.
“We often stand together on key international issues, we also maintain close humanitarian, educational and regional contacts and have many youth exchange programs too."
In an interview with Sputnik Japan, the head of Far Eastern Studies at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, Alexei Maslov, spoke about the possibilities of expanding mutually-beneficial cooperation, which is still lacking in Russian-Japanese relations, Putin mentioned during his meeting with Japanese journalists.
“First of all, this is the high degree of mutual trust [between Russia and China]. Despite a noticeable contraction of our trade contacts in 2015, we enjoy a great deal of mutual confidence as China always fulfils its political promises regarding Russia and we always fulfil ours,” Maslov said.
He added that Putin was also referring to the lack of political trust between Russia and Japan, despite the current rapprochement.
Russia and China have been successful in changing the nature of their trade relations with Russia now selling its goods to China instead of being just a supplier of natural resources to the People’s Republic.
“China is opening its domestic market to Russian goods, plus our two countries recently set up a number of electronic trade platforms. And Russia has also granted the Chinese companies access to its oil and gas fields, which also reflects the high degree of our mutual trust,” Maslov noted.
He also mentioned the two countries’ shared views on security in Asia and elsewhere in the world, on financial security and establishment of a multipolar world order.
“Putin pointed to Russia’s relations with China as an example for Japan to follow. Responding to direct and indirect questions whether Russia is ready to hand over disputed territories to Japan, Putin called, instead, to start building up mutual confidence, set aside political differences and expand economic cooperation between us before we can discuss this.”
As for the possible handover of the South Kuril Islands to Japan, Vladimir Putin made it perfectly clear that Russia has no territorial problems with Japan.
“It is Japan, not Russia, which believes that it has territorial problems, but we are still ready to discuss this,” Putin said.
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