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About The China-Russia East-Route Natural Gas Pipeline and Beyond
Views:1312 Updated:2019-12-05

The China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline came into operation on 2 December 2019. Chinese president Xi and Russian president Putin participated in the launching ceremony via a video call, and the two respectively made a short remark to mark this typical example of the successful collaboration between China and Russia in the energy sector.

This cross-border project runs through over 8000km, with a 3000km section in Russia, and a more than 5000km stretch in China. Cited from the Xinhuanet, the pipeline is under a 30-year contract worth of 400 billion U.S. dollars signed in May 2014 between China’s National Petroleum Corporation and Russia’s Gazprom. In line with the agreement, Russia will provide china with 5 billion cubic metres of Russian gas in 2020, and this number is anticipated to reach to 38 billion cubic metres annually starting from 2024.

Both China and Russia agreed that the implementation of the pipeline will greatly benefit to the two countries and two peoples. What is exactly the significance of this landmark project for China and Russia as well as for the world presumably?

Energy cooperation is an important part of China-Russia economic collaboration. The implementation of the pipeline is expected to help boost Russia’s economy in general terms , and a great number of people will benefit from that. Also this project would be conducive to Russia’s interest in vitalizing the development of its far-eastern region. As for China, the project could help sustain China’s energy security, meet people’s demands in cleaner energy, help china cut its consumption in coal, reduce carbon emissions, and generally contribute to the country’s policy goal in fighting air pollution and promoting sustainable development.

From a broader perspective, energy cooperation plays a crucial part in the overall scheme of China-Russia collaboration guided by a bilateral relationship of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination. As Mr. Putin indicated, the implementation of the pipeline manifests that China-Russia strategic cooperation in the energy field has reached to a new level. Meanwhile, President Xi pointed out in his remark that ‘China-Russia east-route pipeline is a landmark project of China-Russia energy cooperation, and a paradigm of deep convergence of the two countries’ interests and win-win cooperation’. Therefore, the coming into service of the pipeline is reflective of China-Russia energy cooperation having stepped up to a new high; and it has now added more substances to the practice of China-Russia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination.

In addition to the above listing of the fruitful outcome of China-Russia energy cooperation, this piece would put something more broader concerning the implications of China-Russia cooperation.

The China-Russia strengthening cooperative relationship over the past recent years has been met with a growing complex regional and international environment, as well as with a number of new challenges in a variety of areas - climate change, unilateralism, protectionism, anti-multilateralism, security, and terrorism etc. - faced by the world. Under such circumstances, To address these areas of issues, obviously China-Russia close cooperation is not only of significance to the two countries, but also to the whole world.

Both Chinese and Russian officials have occasionally claimed that the enhancing China-Russia ties and closing collaboration have set a good example for the development of great power relations in the 21 century. We have seen over the past years that the two countries have managed to surpass some of their differences, and to overcome the limits of the traditional international relations theories and of the traditional geopolitical thinking, to seek more common sense for directing their relationship and collaboration. Their efforts have proved to be successful - China and Russia have in recent years set up a series of mechanisms, channels and frameworks to guide their cooperation, covering the areas of security, military technology, trade, agriculture, energy, counter-terrorism, people to people and cultural exchanges and so so; and most crucially, they have jointly put good will and made great endeavour to gradually add more concrete meaning and substances to the practice of these series of mechanisms and frameworks. All the attempts being made have contributed to the strengthening bilateral ties of China and Russia, as we have seen.

The example of China-Russia cooperation proves that big powers could together develop a sound and constructive relationship to handle their differences and to address the common challenges faced by the big powers and others, as far as they manage to abandon the traditional containment strategy, respect each others’ core interests, downplay the differences, and focus on the commonalities and convergent interests.

China-U.S. relations has been met with a bit uneasiness recently because of their trade disputes, as well as of the U.S. intervening in China’s Hang Kong and Xin Jiang affairs. Historical events have witnessed that power politics and hard power strategy can only lead to more troubles. It is in the interest of both China and the U.S. to explore creative and strategic means to overcome the hurdles standing in front of them. The way how Russia and China have developed their relationship could be a reference.

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