Putin says to advance Russia-China cooperation under Belt & Road

Spotlight: Putin says to advance Russia-China cooperation under Belt & Road Initiative

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Zhang Sutang, vice president of Xinhua News Agency, in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 1, 2017. (Xinhua/Lu Jinbo)

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, June 1 (Xinhua) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday his country is ready to expand cooperation with China under its Belt and Road Initiative.

Putin made the remarks when answering questions raised by Zhang Sutang, vice president of Xinhua News Agency, during a meeting with heads of the world’s major news agencies on the sideline of the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

Speaking to Zhang, Putin reiterated his readiness to unite efforts within the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

“Our position is precisely this. It is not only mine but also of the leaders of other EAEU countries. We are interested in developing relations with China, one of the world’s largest economies with colossal potential,” said Putin.

The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China in 2013 consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

The EAEU comprises Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, with an aim to encourage regional economic integration through the free movement of goods, services and people within the union.

In the context of the pairing of the Belt and Road Initiative and the EAEU, infrastructure development cooperation is “priceless” in general, said the Russian president.

According to him, such cooperation includes the construction of road, railway, air and maritime transport facilities linking east and west, south and north.

“It truly has a global significance. Therefore, Russia and China will work together in this area,” the president added.

In his view, the situation in Russia-China border regions is developing positively: bridges under construction, cross-border trade on the increase, and direct contacts between local governments in full swing.

Meanwhile, people from both countries are visiting each other, conducting all kinds of humanitarian activities and holding various economic forums.

Putin said the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between Russia and China is developing “very positively” and “uniquely.”

“We are always seeking common approaches to the most complicated problems and often come forward with a unified position,” he said.

Putin also proposed to deepen bilateral cooperation within the frameworks of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the BRICS mechanism.

According to him, the SCO has become a major international organization and plays a big role in regional and global affairs.

The BRICS mechanism, which unites countries with similar economic structure, now serves as a very important platform for coordinating positions, Putin added.

“We have common problems. It encourages us to look for universal ways to solve them together and complement each other during this process,” he said.

Founded in 1997, the SPIEF is an international platform to discuss key economic issues facing Russia, other developing countries and the world at large.