By Mary Dejevsky:Russia Insider;Originally appeared at The Guardian.
Deals include sale of stakes in projects to Chinese firms, an oil supply contract and joint investments in petrochemical projects
Russia and China sealed a raft of energy deals during President Vladimir Putin’svisit to Beijing on Saturday, strengthening economic ties while pledging to preserve the strategic balance of power among nations.
In what was Putin’s fourth trip to China since Xi Jinping became president in 2013, the two men stressed their shared outlook which mirrors the countries’ converging trade, investment and geopolitical interests.
“Russia and China stick to points of view which are very close to each other or are almost the same in the international arena,” Putin said.
Xi emphasised that this year marked the 15th anniversary of the China-Russia treaty of friendship and hoped the two countries might remain “friends forever”.
“President Putin and I equally agree that when faced with international circumstances that are increasingly complex and changing, we must persist even harder in maintaining the spirit of the Sino-Russian strategic partnership and cooperation,” he said.
The deals involve the sale of stakes in a number of Russian projects to Chinese firms, an oil supply contract and joint investments in petrochemical projects inRussia.
Putin said 58 different deals worth a total of around $50 billion were currently in discussion, adding that the two countries will seek to secure an agreement on building a high-speed rail line in Russia by the end of the year.
Xi also called for closer cooperation between news agencies in Russia and China so both countries could “together increase the influence” of their media on world public opinion.
Rosneft, Russia’s top oil producer, agreed with China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) that it would take a 40% stake in Rosneft’s planned petrochemical complex VNHK in Russia’s far east.
The deal would help Rosneft finance the project and get access to the markets of the Asia-Pacific region, the Russian firm said in a statement.
They also signed a new one-year contract under which Rosneft could supply up to 2.4 million tonnes of crude oil to ChemChina between 1 August, 2016 and 31 July, 2017.
Rosneft and Beijing Enterprises Group Company Limited agreed the key terms of a potential sale of a 20% stake in Rosneft’s oil producing subsidiary, Verkhnechonskneftegaz, to a unit of Beijing Gas Group.
Russia was China’s largest crude oil supplier in May for a third month in a row, having surpassed imports from Saudi Arabia.
Although economic cooperation was the focus at Putin’s talks with Xi, the leaders also agreed to strengthen global strategic stability.
A statement on the Kremlin website from the two governments called on nations to strictly abide by the norms of international law, keep military capabilities at the minimum level required for national security and refrain from steps aimed at expanding existing military-political alliances.
The statement criticised the deployment of anti-missile systems in Europe and Asia, saying those who deploy them often acted under false pretences.
It did not mention specific countries, but it comes at a time that Russia and NATO are at loggerheads over the western alliance’s build up of capabilities in eastern Europe, including missile defence. NATO says its actions are a necessary response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
On North Korea, both countries agreed the stalled six-party talks process remained the best way to achieve the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and that all sides should create conditions for talks to resume.
The countries’ central banks also signed a memorandum of understanding on setting up a yuan clearing mechanism in Russia that they said would be beneficial to cross-border trade and investment.