Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov’s remarks at the 4th International Conference “Russia and China: Cooperation in a new era,” Beijing, May 29, 2018
It is a great honour and privilege for me to address what is already the fourth international conference on Russian-Chinese relations, organised under the Russian International Affairs Council. I took part in the three conferences that preceded this one, so it was a must for me to be here today.
Let me begin my remarks by stating a fact. Today, we are witnessing the emergence of a new global geopolitical landscape that affects the interests of all the key parties, their socioeconomic development and national security capabilities. The transition towards a new world order is accompanied by growing instability and uncertainty, which weigh on the entire system of international relations.
In this context, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the relations of a comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation between Russia and China present what could be referred to as an island of stability. Promoting a strategic partnership with the People’s Republic of China in all areas is an absolute foreign policy priority for Russia. I strongly believe that the same can be said about Beijing’s policy toward Russia. By combining our efforts, we have been able to open a new stage in our bilateral relations, making them an important factor in terms of national development and security, as well as enhancing the international standing of our two countries.
The commitment to expand multifaceted contacts between Russia and China fully meets the interests of our peoples. Seeking to ensure consistent progress in dialogue and cooperation in all areas, we have developed a holistic cooperation framework that is extremely resilient and enables us to address the most challenging issues in a constructive manner. The dialogue between our governments is not driven by ideology, and the two countries do not interfere in each other’s internal affairs or development models, while offering mutual support for the key issues of security, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
There is no doubt that the top-level meeting that is scheduled to take place next month will be this year’s political highlight in Russian-Chinese relations. Preparations for this meeting are in full swing. We expect the meeting to offer an opportunity not only to reaffirm continuity in our bilateral strategic partnership, but also to provide a major impetus to further unleashing its virtually unlimited potential.
China has firmly established itself as Russia’s leading trade and economic partner. Today’s agenda includes achieving the goal set by the two leaders to increase bilateral trade to $200 billion by 2020. Moving to a new cooperation model based on enhancing integration production chains and promoting investment ties is a key prerequisite for success.
Cooperation in the energy sector is the cornerstone of the Russian-Chinese partnership. Our countries are consistently moving towards building a strategic energy alliance, aimed, among other things, at contributing to stronger global energy security.
We attach great importance to a comprehensive expansion of humanitarian exchanges. In 2016−2017, we organised successful cross-year media projects, including over 250 events, which helped deepen mutual understanding between the Russian and Chinese media communities. According to an agreement between the leaders, 2018−2019 will be the Years of Russian-Chinese interregional cooperation. I am confident that this next mega-project will contribute to further strengthening the entire range of contacts between our countries.
Our two friendly countries certainly do not intend to stop there. Moscow and Beijing share a principled commitment to elevating bilateral cooperation to a new level.
I will focus specifically on two or three topics related to Russian-Chinese cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Former delineation lines are eroding there, and new models of interstate interaction are emerging that are dramatically different from those we see, for example, in the Euro-Atlantic space. The emphasis is not on unification or pseudo-tolerance, but on constructive and conflict-free interaction within various political systems and lifestyles. This approach becomes all the more important, because it is being applied amid the contraction of constructive cooperation space in the world because certain Western countries are unprepared to accept the objective reality of the new polycentric world order and the inevitable decline of their dominance in international affairs.
Asia provides ample opportunities for building a fully interconnected common economic space. The policy to develop mutually beneficial cooperation with all interested partners adopted by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the Chinese One Belt One Road project is eloquent proof of that.
Eurasia is becoming a natural consolidating link between the integration processes in the East and the West. Working towards this end will be the Greater Eurasian Partnership, which President Putin has proposed for the consolidation of the EAEU, SCO and ASEAN countries. By combining national development strategies and multilateral integration platforms, this partnership will offer the member states broad access to each other’s potential.
We welcome the growing activity of Russia and China in this area. The signing of an agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the EAEU and China was part of the efforts to implement the decision of their leaders on aligning the EAEU and China’s Belt and Road initiative. Russia and China are drafting an agreement on the Eurasian Economic Partnership, which will be open for accession by any interested country.
The SCO features prominently in our cooperation with China in this region. The political and economic potential of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has greatly increased following the granting of full membership to India and Pakistan in 2017. The SCO is a unique platform for the implementation of multilateral initiatives. It is working efficiently on security matters, starting from fighting terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking to contributing to the settlement of complicated international problems, for example in Afghanistan. The SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, which has resumed its operation, convened for a second meeting in Beijing yesterday. Economic cooperation is growing consistently within the SCO region.
At the same time, the SCO has no intention of becoming a military bloc, dominating other countries or acting as a counterbalance to any other associations. On the contrary, the Shanghai Spirit is a philosophy of mutually beneficial cooperation, equality, respect for cultural diversity and consensus interaction based on the principle of equal and indivisible security.
Unfortunately, in Asia, there is no reduction in the number of threats and challenges that can hinder or even preclude the dynamic development of the region. The potential for common sustainable development is being undermined by the misguided deterrence policy. The advocates of this policy are losing the ability to think strategically, and their actions are becoming increasingly unpredictable, which is generating a greater risk of conflict in the region.
The attempts to reshape the architecture of international relations are eroding the foundations of the current system in Asia Pacific. I am referring, in part, to the idea of the Indo-Pacific region, which the United States and Japan are actively advocating. Essentially, it is designed to divide the regional countries into friends and foes, the good and the bad, or democratic and not-very-democratic countries. It goes without saying that the authors of this idea reserve the right to decide which is which.
Both Russia and China hold a diametrically opposite view. They are against creating blocs and believe that an effective and system-wide response to security challenges in Asia Pacific must include a comprehensive military and political détente and uniform rules of the game. Our countries have been working consistently to rally the efforts of all responsible countries, including our ASEAN partners, so as to create a regional architecture that will be effective in the current realities. This architecture must be based on the universal principles of indivisible security and the supremacy of international law, as well as non-use of force or threat of force. We see the same aspiration among many of our Asian-Pacific partners.
Colleagues, I have outlined a few regional issues, which I consider as highly important and on which Russia and China can continue to work together. Of course, there are other and no less important questions, such as the Korean settlement. I hope that you will hold thorough discussions on these matters in the next two days, and that you will also consider the future of our partnership and offer your opinions, forecasts and recommendations regarding the most promising areas of Russian-Chinese cooperation. We need your advice for the daily work of our two countries’ foreign policy departments.
I wish all the participants of this conference interesting and productive discussions.