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China, Russia ink 38 deals

2014-10-14 08:28 Global Times Web Editor: Qin Dexing
Premier Li Keqiang (L) and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sign a joint statement following the 19th China-Russia Prime Ministers' Regular Meeting in Moscow on Oct 13, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

Premier Li Keqiang (L) and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sign a joint statement following the 19th China-Russia Prime Ministers' Regular Meeting in Moscow on Oct 13, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

Agreements expected to ease impact of Western sanctions

China and Russia signed 38 agreements on Monday covering energy, finance and transportation during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Moscow, amid Russia's push to offset the negative impacts of Western sanctions.[Special coverage]

The agreements were signed at the 19th China-Russia Prime Ministers' Regular Meeting attended by Li and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.

"I consider it important that, in spite of the difficult situation, we are opening up new possibilities," Medvedev said after the agreements were signed.

Energy deals are still the mainstay of bilateral cooperation between the two powers.

The governments sealed a $400 billion natural gas delivery deal via the Power of Siberia pipeline, or the so-called eastern route, a contract signed by Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) in May. The contract will see 38 billion cubic meters of Russian gas transported to China annually for 30 years starting from 2018.

According to Russian News Agency TASS, Gazprom and CNPC have also signed a technical appendix to the agreement. After the agreement expires, it will automatically be extended for a 5-year period.

The two sides also started negotiating a deal on gas shipments to China via a western route, which connects fields in western Siberia with Northwest China, on Sunday. Interfax quoted Medvedev as saying that the two countries hope to reach an agreement next year.

Meanwhile, Premier Li was quoted by Interfax as saying that Russia and China have decided to form a joint venture for liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects.

Russian oil giant Rosneft Monday signed agreements with CNPC to deepen strategic cooperation, including considering delivering LNG to China.

Deepened energy cooperation between Russia and China comes as the EU and the US show no signs of lifting sanctions imposed on Russia's energy and finance sectors over the Ukraine crisis.

On Monday, Russian banks VTB, VEB and Russian Agriculture Bank, which are being hit by sanctions, signed framework agreements with the Export-Import Bank of China to open credit lines.

Meanwhile, the China Development Bank (CDB) agreed to financing of $500 million for Russian mobile phone operator MegaFon. CDB also agreed on annual financing of $1 billion to Russian Grid, reported Interfax.

In an effort to curb reliance on the US dollar, the People's Bank of China (PBOC), China's central bank, signed a currency swap agreement worth 150 billion yuan ($24.4 billion) with the Russian central bank. The agreement lasts for three years and can be extended if both sides agree, the PBOC said on Monday in a statement.

"The currency swap agreement is of great significance to China, which marks a key step forward for the internationalization of the yuan. It is the same for Russia. Moreover, this will better help BRICS nations have more say in international finance," Li Xing, director of Russian studies at Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times on Monday.

However, Li Xing noted that "China may be able to help reduce the damage as Russia looks east for business and financing, but it is far from a total offset."

The two countries also agreed on cooperation in high-speed railway transportation at the meeting.

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that Russia and China could launch a joint project to upgrade the Ilyushin-114, a regional twin-engine turboprop aircraft.

Some also are eyeing Sino-Russian cooperation on aerospace projects, including navigation satellites. "The two countries are likely to carry out cooperation on navigation satellites for civilian use which will facilitate the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) service expansion to Russia and Eastern European countries," Lan Yun, a defense observer and editor at Modern Ships magazine, told the Global Times. BDS is a Chinese alternative to the GPS navigation system.

Russia and China have set a goal to raise their trade volume to $100 billion by 2015 and to $200 billion by 2020.

"The close relationship between China and Russia is not only out of economic concerns, as the two complement each other's economy. These active efforts are also a reflection of political necessity and desire," said Lu Shiwei, a senior research fellow with the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University.

With their relations at an "all-time high," Beijing and Moscow have presented a close stance on global issues, ranging from the Iran nuclear issue to the Syria crisis. During talks with Premier Li on Monday morning, Sergei Naryshkin, the speaker of the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, said the coordination of Russian and Chinese foreign policies serves as a deterrent for the destructive influence of a number of Western states, including the US, reported RIA Novosti.

China's Vice Premier Wang Yang reportedly told Rogozin Saturday at a preparatory meeting for the prime ministers' meeting that the West was wrong to impose economic sanctions against Russia.

Premier Li is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

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