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Russia and China intensifying economic cooperation at the regional level

Apart from strong bilateral national ties, there are various projects of a more local importance which showcase the links between the two powers

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(Dimitry Bokarev – Journal NEO) – The cooperation at the regional level gives additional depth and solidity to the economic relations between the two countries. It demonstrates the level of mutual trust and facilitates the establishment of truly warm relations, economic and cultural integration. By understanding this, Russia and China encourage contacts between their regions.

One of the important trends of Russian-Chinese inter-regional cooperation is the Volga-Yangtze Project.

In 2013, in accordance with the approval of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, the Joint working group on cooperation in the economic and humanitarian fields was created for the regions of the Volga federal district of the Russian Federation and Upper and Middle Reaches of the Yangtze River in China.

The Volga Federal District includes 14 territorial entities of the Russian Federation, almost 30 million people living on its territory (20% of the Russian population). The Upper and Middle Reaches of the Yangtze River include five Chinese provinces and Chongqing – a direct controlled municipality with the total population exceeding 360.6 million people.

By the end of 2017, the parties exchanged several visits and held a few joint meetings. Agreements on trade and economic cooperation between the administration of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast (the administrative centre of which, Nizhny Novgorod, is also the administrative centre of the Volga Federal District) and Chinese provinces Anhui and Sichuan, were reached.

Overall, one can note that the cooperation between these large regional unifications of Russia and China is developing quite slowly. This relates to many legislative obstacles, absence of favourable terms for trade and the strict visa regime between the two countries. Nevertheless, many specialists consider that if these difficulties are removed, the relations between the Volga Federal District and the Upper and Middle Reaches of the Yangtze River are up to the bright future.

Also, the interaction of China and Altai Krai of the Russian Federation has considerably increased recently. The cooperation in the spheres of economics, education and culture is being developed between the said Russian region and China.

The basis for the economic cooperation of Altai Krai and China is the trade of agricultural products. As is known, Altai Krai is included into the number of the leading territorial entities of the Russian Federation in the sphere of agriculture. The Chinese market of food products is one of the main markets for export into this region. Greater China periodically purchases big volumes of Altai flour, grains and honey. Also, Altai Krai is the largest Russian supplier of vegetable oil into China.

In 2015, the region sold to China 5.4 thousand tonnes of flour and more than 26 tonnes of honey (which is nine times more than the amount of honey purchased by the Chinese in 2014).

In June 2016, the administration of Altai Krai informed on the fourfold increase of the foreign economic turnover with China for the past year. Apart from other products, China purchased hundreds of tonnes of Altai ice-cream. In 2017, this tendency continued.

Altai Krai has the briskest trading with Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, an autonomous territory in the north of China. Freight and cargo transportation between them is provided by road via Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

However, the excessive surplus of grains that is being observed in Altai Krai and the constantly growing demand of China in the import of quality food products and agricultural raw products demand from both sides the expansion of the trade and inclusion of new regions of China into it. The growth in exports to China is the main concern for Altai Krai administration.

It should be noted that there are a few obstacles in the Chinese legislation, preventing the Russian-Chinese trade of agricultural products to develop to the full extent. As an example, despite the growing popularity of Altai grain products into China, the quota system for import of flour, existing in China, prevents the growth in supplies, despite the growing popularity of Altai grain products – these quotas are only allocated among the Chinese companies.

Nowadays, Russia and China are conducting negotiations regarding cancellation or relaxation of Chinese import restrictions for agricultural products, and a certain success has already been achieved. Thus, China is obliged to get rid of tariff barriers by 2020, which do not correspond to the WTO requirements.

In November 2017, a meeting between the governor of Altai Krai Aleksandr Karlin and Li Hui, the Chinese Ambassador to Russia, took place. They discussed the prospects of the development of trade and investment cooperation between Altai Krai and China. Apart from traditional spheres of engagement, the parties touched upon the topic of tourism. According to Li Hui’s words, the territory shows a considerable potential in this sphere.

In the same month, the delegation of Altai Krai went to Shanghai, to the 21st International Exhibition of Food and Beverage, China’s global food and hospitality trade show FHC 2017. The Chinese businessmen and officials have an opportunity to get acquainted with the various products of Altai enterprises.

In general, the prospects of economic cooperation of China and Altai Krai can be taken a favourable view. It is well known that China’s own agriculture cannot fully provide for the demands of the population of the country, and the Chinese import of food products will only increase in the nearest future. Besides, many Chinese are concerned with the excessive usage of chemicals and genetically modified foods, to which the Chinese agrarians resort to maximize the harvest. Considering these factors, as well as the ongoing work on the liberalization of Chinese trade legislation, the Russian producers of organic agricultural products can count on the significant growth of trade with China in the years immediately ahead.

Another interesting article of news about Russian-Chinese cooperation at the regional level is the extension of contacts between China and the Chechen Republic. The oil business became the main sphere of economic cooperation of Chechnya and China.

In April 2017, the Chechen company ОАО ‘Chechenneftehimprom’ and the Chinese СРТSA signed a co-operation agreement. The Chinese oil producers won approval for exploration and development of Chechen oil/gas fields. As the first foreign partner of Chechnya in the oil industry, СРТSA was promised the most favourable operating conditions.

According to the words of Chechnya’s Prime Minister, Abubakar Edelgeriyev, the parties will engage not only in the oil extraction, but also the oil refining, which will positively influence the Chechen economy.

Another sphere of engagement of China and Chechnya is the safety and security arrangements. Recently, growth of terror threats has been noted in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. To maintain security on their territory, China is intending to adopt the best Chechen practices of fighting against terror. With this view, in November 2017, the Chinese delegation headed by Chen Gopin, who is the Special Representative on Combatting Terrorism and security issues of the People’s Republic of China, visited Chechnya. Apart from the issues of security, the representatives of the delegation discussed the further development of the economic cooperation with the Chechen senior-most officials. They stated that Chechnya is rich in resources and has remarkable potential for tourism.

In conclusion, one can note that Russia and China consistently develop the co-operation between these two regions, which already pays dividends.

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Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

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Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

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US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

The Duran

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Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

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Kiev ‘Patriarch’ prepares to seize Moscow properties in Ukraine

Although Constantinople besought the Kiev church to stop property seizures, they were ignored and used, or perhaps, complicit.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The attack on the Eastern Orthodox Church, brought about by the US State Department and its proxies in Constantinople and Ukraine, is continuing. On October 20, 2018, the illegitimate “Kyiv (Kiev) Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko who is calling himself “Patriarch Filaret”, had a synodal meeting in which it changed the commemoration title of the leader of the church to include the Kyiv Caves and Pochaev Lavras.

This is a problem because Metropolitan Onuphry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is canonically accepted and acts as a very autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate has these places under his pastoral care.

This move takes place only one week after Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople unilaterally (and illegally) lifted the excommunications, depositions (removal from priestly ranks as punishment) and anathemas against Filaret and Makary that were imposed on them by the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate.

These two censures are very serious matters in the Orthodox Church. Excommunication means that the person or church so considered cannot receive Holy Communion or any of the other Mysteries (called Sacraments in the West) in a neighboring local Orthodox Church. Anathema is even more serious, for this happens when a cleric disregards his excommunication and deposition (removal from the priesthood), and acts as a priest or a bishop anyway.

Filaret Denisenko received all these censures in 1992, and Patriarch Bartholomew accepted this decision at the time, as stated in a letter he sent to Moscow shortly after the censures. However, three years later, Patriarch Bartholomew received a group of Ukrainian autocephalist bishops called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, who had been in communion with Filaret’s group. While this move may have been motivated by the factor of Bartholomew’s almost total isolation within Istanbul, Turkey, it is nonetheless non-canonical.

This year’s moves have far exceeded previous ones, though, and now the possibility for a real clash that could cost lives is raised. With Filaret’s “church” – really an agglomeration of Ukrainian ultranationalists and Neo-Nazis in the mix, plus millions of no doubt innocent Ukrainian faithful who are deluded about the problems of their church, challenging an existing arrangement regarding Ukraine and Russia’s two most holy sites, the results are not likely to be good at all.

Here is the report about today’s developments, reprinted in part from OrthoChristian.com:

Meeting today in Kiev, the Synod of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) has officially changed the title of its primate, “Patriarch” Philaret, to include the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras under his jurisdiction.

The primate’s new official title, as given on the site of the KP, is “His Holiness and Beatitude (name), Archbishop and Metropolitan of Kiev—Mother of the cities of Rus’, and Galicia, Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine, Svyaschenno-Archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras.”

…Thus, the KP Synod is declaring that “Patriarch” Philaret has jurisdiction over the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras, although they are canonically under the omophorion of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Philaret and his followers and nationalistic radicals have continually proclaimed that they will take the Lavras for themselves.

This claim to the ancient and venerable monasteries comes after the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it had removed the anathema placed upon Philaret by the Russian Orthodox Church and had restored him to his hierarchical office. Philaret was a metropolitan of the canonical Church, becoming patriarch in his schismatic organization.

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have clarified that they consider Philaret to be the “former Metropolitan of Kiev,” but he and his organization continue to consider him an active patriarch, with jurisdiction in Ukraine.

Constantinople’s statement also appealed to all in Ukraine to “avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties,” which the Synod of the KP ignored in today’s decision.

The KP primate’s abbreviated title will be, “His Holiness (name), Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” and the acceptable form for relations with other Local Churches is “His Beatitude Archbishop (name), Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine.”

The Russian Orthodox Church broke eucharistic communion and all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over this matter earlier this week. Of the fourteen local Orthodox Churches recognized the world over, twelve have expressed the viewpoint that Constantinople’s move was in violation of the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church. Only one local Church supported Constantinople wholeheartedly, and all jurisdictions except Constantinople have appealed for an interOrthodox Synod to address and solve the Ukrainian matter in a legitimate manner.

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