Asia Minute: Chinese President Spending Time in Russia

Jun 6, 2019

Vladimir Putin (right) and Xi Jinping (left)
Credit www.kremlin.ru / CC BY 4.0

President Trump marked the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion with a visit to France, following his stop in the United Kingdom. But he’s not the only world leader on the road this week. It’s been getting less media attention in this country, but there’s been another gathering that has implications for U.S. policy in the Asia Pacific.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is in the middle of a three-day visit to Russia. Last night in Moscow, Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin marked the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the Soviet Union. Today the focus moves to the St. Petersburg Economic International Forum.

Bloomberg reports Xi is bringing along more than a thousand government officials and business executives — telling Putin “we’ve managed to take our relationship to the highest level in our history.”

Relations have often been strained over that history. For thirty years starting in the late 1950’s there were no summit meetings between the leaders of the two countries.

State media in China say Xi and Putin have met almost thirty times in the past six years.

There are shared international interests — from Syria and Iran to North Korea — and of course both governments have significant differences with the United States.

Two-way trade between China and Russia spiked by nearly a third last year to more than 100 billion dollars – mostly because of increased shipments of Russian oil and gas.

According to Russia’s central bank, Chinese investment in Russia has fallen in recent years.

Russia’s state media TASS says about 30 different agreements will be signed during Xi’s visit — including areas such as security, trade and energy.