On the eve of his visit to the People’s Republic of China, where the APEC forum economic leaders will meet, Vladimir Putin gave an interview to leading Chinese media.
QUESTION: A regular APEC summit will be held in Beijing soon. How does Russia evaluate the role of this union? What does the Russian side expect from the upcoming meeting? How do you think Russia and China can strengthen their cooperation in this forum by promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region?
V.PUTIN: The ongoing development of APEC over a quarter of a century is convincing evidence of the relevance of this authoritative association, within which the general “rules of the game” in the trade and economic sphere in the APR space are agreed.
It is important to note that all decisions developed within the framework of the forum are made on the principles of mutual respect, taking into account each other’s interests, what is called the “APEC spirit”. In modern conditions, when some countries prefer to act in the international arena, resorting to methods of political, economic, and often pressure, the role of APEC as an effective coordinating mechanism in building a new regional architecture of relations is simply irreplaceable.
Russia is actively involved in the work of APEC. The full-scale involvement of our country in regional integration processes contributes to the development of the national economy and social sphere, and contributes to the solution of the tasks of raising the regions of Siberia and the Far East.
The next meeting of the leaders of the APEC economies 10 – 11 in November in Beijing will certainly become one of the central events in the life of the APR this year. As chairman of APEC-2014, China has prepared a solid package of initiatives. So, it is planned to adopt a roadmap to promote the creation of an Asia-Pacific free trade zone. A plan of concrete steps has been developed to strengthen the complex interconnectedness of the region, promote innovative progress and structural reforms.
I would like to draw attention to the continuity of today's agenda in relation to the issues that we proposed for discussion in Vladivostok in 2012. I believe that this reflects the coincidence of Russian and Chinese interests in the joint development of the region in order to achieve comprehensive, sustainable and innovative growth.
We are committed to the traditionally close, constructive interaction with the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, in the course of the forthcoming discussions, as well as in the implementation of the summit’s decisions. I am convinced that the APEC leaders meeting in Beijing will make a significant contribution to the further build-up of an equal and mutually beneficial partnership in the region.
QUESTION: At present, Russian-Chinese relations are developing particularly dynamically. The parties have achieved an important breakthrough in cooperation in the gas sector, and events are successfully taking place within the framework of the Years of Youth Exchanges. How do you assess the development of relations between Russia and the PRC at this stage? How is the Russian side ready to deepen the relations of a comprehensive strategic partnership with China?
V.PUTIN: Strengthening ties with the PRC is Russia's foreign policy priority. Today, our relations have reached a new level of comprehensive equitable trusting partnership and strategic interaction, are the best for their entire life. history. We well understand that such cooperation is extremely important both for Russia and, I am sure, for China.
In international affairs, we are united by the proximity or coincidence of positions on major global and regional issues. Our countries effectively interact at multilateral sites, closely coordinating their actions to resolve pressing international problems.
Russian-Chinese relations have become the most important factor in ensuring the foreign policy interests of the two countries in the 21st century, playing a prominent role in shaping a just, harmonious, secure world pattern. At the same time, our bilateral relations have a serious prospect of further progressive development.
I would especially like to note that today our countries face similar tasks. First of all, it is improving infrastructure and stimulating high-tech sectors. In many ways, our industry priorities coincide: energy saving and energy efficiency, the development of new information technologies, transport, nuclear energy, space, environmental protection, the production of modern medicines and medical equipment.
Noticeably intensified cooperation in the energy sector. An oil pipeline from Russia to China has been built and is operational, and agreements have been concluded on increasing the supply of oil. In accordance with the agreements reached, energy exports to the PRC are growing, joint ventures have been established for the exploration and production of oil and coal in Russia. Chinese companies have joined gas production projects on the Russian Arctic shelf. The construction of a large joint refinery in China. Successfully implemented projects in the field of peaceful atom.
The unconditional breakthrough of the current year is a large-scale gas agreement. In May, we agreed on natural gas supplies to China via the eastern route. The contract is for 30 years and involves the supply of 38 billions of cubic meters of gas per year. This is the largest long-term deal in the history of bilateral relations and the entire world trade. In addition, we have a mutual understanding on the opening of the western supply corridor. Many of the technical and commercial parameters of this project have already been agreed upon, which provides a good basis for reaching final agreements.
For Russia and China, countries with rich traditions and original culture, humanitarian ties are of particular importance. In the course of unique projects: national Years (in 2006 - the Year of Russia in China, in 2007 - the Year of China in Russia), Years of Russian and Chinese (2009 – 2010), Years of Tourism of Russia and China (2012– 2013 years.) - Our contacts in education, science, culture, tourism, sports, and health care have significantly expanded.
After the successful holding of the National Years, we approved a list of the most successful and high-profile events. Now they are held on a regular basis. In particular, we are talking about economic, political, and scientific forums, tourism fairs, cultural days and film festivals, rectors' forums and educational exhibitions of Russian and Chinese universities, youth gatherings, and sports competitions. The ten-year Action Plan for the development of Russian-Chinese cooperation in the humanitarian sphere, adopted in December 2012, is being consistently implemented.
In 2014 – 2015, a new large-scale interstate project is being implemented - Years of friendly youth exchanges between Russia and China. In its program as a whole about 600 events. As part of the opening ceremony of the Years in March of this year, the first performance of a joint Russian-Chinese youth symphony orchestra and student choir under the direction of V. A. Gergiev took place in St. Petersburg.
QUESTION: Next year marks the 70 anniversary of the Victory over fascism. Russia and China will hold a series of events dedicated to this event. What, in your opinion, does the joint celebration of this date by the two countries matter for maintaining historical memory, suppressing attempts to deny the results of the Second World War and promoting global peace?
V.PUTIN: 9 May 2015 in Russia will mark a significant anniversary - the 70 anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. September 3 2015 will be held in Beijing on the occasion of the 70 anniversary of the end of World War II and the victory of the Chinese people who expelled the invaders from their land.
During the talks in Shanghai in May of this year, we and the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, agreed that we would celebrate these memorable dates together, which was recorded in the Joint Statement.
During the war years, the Soviet Union and China were allies, fighting shoulder to shoulder against a common enemy. Our countries with honor passed the severe tests, bore the brunt of the resistance to the aggressors. At the final stage of the war tens of thousands of our compatriots gave their lives for the liberation of Northeast China. I would like to thank the Chinese friends for the careful attitude to the memory of the heroes, to the graves of the fallen, war memorials.
The blood-clad fighting fraternity and mutual assistance of the peoples of our countries laid a solid foundation for modern Russian-Chinese relations. Today, Russia and China are interested in strengthening global stability and developing broad cooperation based on international law and the central role of the UN. We oppose a return to ideological confrontation in world affairs and strongly condemn any attempts to falsify the history of the Second World War.
I am confident that the upcoming celebration of the anniversary of Victory in Russia and in China will further strengthen bilateral understanding and cooperation.
QUESTION: What factors, in your opinion, led to a drop in world oil prices? Can this process have a significant impact on the Russian economy? How does the Russian side cope with its negative impact?
V.PUTIN: Of course, the objective reason for the decline in world oil prices was the slowdown in economic growth, and hence energy consumption in a number of countries. In addition, both strategic and commercial oil reserves in developed countries are at historical highs. Innovations in the technology of oil production, which led to the emergence of new volumes of hydrocarbons in regional markets, are also having an impact.
At the same time, the political component in oil prices is also always present. Moreover, in some crisis moments, there is a feeling that in the pricing of energy resources, politics prevails.
Another negative factor is the lack of a clear direct link between the physical markets of oil and the financial sites where trading is conducted. At the same time, derivatives are widely used, which multiply the volatility of oil prices. This state of affairs, unfortunately, creates the conditions for speculative actions and, as a result, for price manipulation depending on someone's interests.
Of course, we cannot ignore the emerging conjuncture in the oil market, taking into account the important role of revenues from fuel and energy products for the budget revenue. The steps we take are complex and long-term. They provide for further diversification of the structure and sources of growth of the Russian economy, as well as reducing excessive dependence on the European market of hydrocarbons, including by increasing exports of oil and gas to the APR countries. At the same time, they intend to optimize budget expenditures, monetary and tax policies.
It is obvious that the risks associated with the new situation in the global oil market affect a very wide range of states and companies. Therefore, we maintain an ongoing dialogue on this issue with leading producers and consumers of energy resources.
QUESTION: Recently, significant progress was made towards the establishment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Some experts believe that Washington is seeking to counter the new APEC union in the light of the growing influence in the region of Russia and China. How do you assess the prospects for APEC in the event of a TTP?
V.PUTIN: The conclusion of regional free trade agreements of various formats is one of the global trends. It is not by chance that this practice has become widespread in the APR, which is becoming the center of global economic and political activity. Today, there are already about 70 agreements of this kind here, a number of projects are still underway. These include the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership.
Russia is interested in deepening regional economic integration. At the same time, we presume that free trade agreements should not fragment, but complement the multilateral trading system, promote its consolidation and increase interconnectedness. It is also impossible to oppose, pushing together regional associations. It is necessary to build such agreements on the basis of openness, equality, taking into account the needs of each economy. Regional integration should be transparent and ensure the exchange of information between all negotiation processes.
We pay particular attention to this approach in the course of work on the integration project of priority for us - the Eurasian Economic Union. The parameters and principles of this association are transparent and implemented in full compliance with the rules and regulations of the World Trade Organization.
It is still not easy to assess what is actually achieved in the framework of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Promotion of this initiative is carried out in private, even for business and the public of the contracting states themselves, not to mention other countries. Over the past five years, during which negotiations are underway, periodic statements of success are then refuted. The last time was before the APEC Summit on Bali in November 2013. According to reports, it’s rather a matter of agreement to continue the negotiation process, which has been frozen for more than a year. Terms of its renewal have not yet been announced.
It is obvious that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is another attempt by the United States to build a profitable regional economic cooperation architecture. At the same time, I believe that the absence of such major regional players as Russia and China among its members is unlikely to allow building effective trade and economic cooperation.
The multilateral system of economic relations in the APR can be strong only if the interests of all the states of the region are taken into account. This approach is reflected in the draft Beijing road map to promote the formation of the Asia-Pacific free trade zone, which will be discussed at the upcoming meeting of the APEC leaders.