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China-Russia spat over energy

The mellifluous rhetoric of the “comprehensive strategic cooperation and partnership” between China and Russia is difficult to penetrate. A rare peep behind the curtain through the Chines eyes, therefore, shouldn’t be missed. The Global Times provides an insight into the Chinese discontent over energy cooperation with Russia. The focal point is the protracted negotiation stretched over 9 rounds through the past six-year period on cooperation over natural gas. 

China made use of every single high-level exchange with Russia in the recent years to get the latter to come to a compromise formula. The contentious issue is over the price of Russian gas. China would hope that the gas price is fixed at a level on par with its domestic price. Russia insists that the price the Europeans pay for Russian gas ought to be the benchmark. Both are logical positions and the deadlock continues. 
One compelling reason for China to give extra hype to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit last month was the expectation that Moscow might give in and strike a deal on gas in a rush of emotions. But that was not to be. The GT complains that Russia is unemotional when it comes to business and strives to “maximise” its profits by even changing the goal posts. 
Of course, China finds it all “exhausting” that there has to be such tough negotiation when Moscow ought to appreciate that “oil and gas resources from Russia mean a lot for China’s security.” The GT thereupon reflects on the dialectics involving “mutual trust” and gas cooperation. 
While mutual trust is the “basis” of the two countries’ energy cooperation, the “spats and conflicts” in the unavoidable negotiations also provide a “perfect chance” for them to learn about their political, economic and cultural appeal for each other, which go to “add to their mutual trust.” So, all is not lost although the gas deal remains elusive. The GT report is here.       

Posted in Diplomacy, Politics.

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2 Responses

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  1. rationalbeing being says

    first of alll sino-russian relationship is based on business and mutually benefecial co-operative it is useless to compare with sino-soviet relationship.demograhically russia is not dying nation according to latest census report (population of russian far east is on rising)and we must remember mainaland russia was never populated so much during communist or tzarist period.russian military is far more advanced than the chinese.russia is we aware about china’s long term plan to annex syberia,but probably it is not going to happen as russia is rebuiding her military.disagreement about oil and gas price is natural and in near future it will be solved as china will have to rely on russia for energy due to embargo and sanctions on the end of the day china will come to negotiate.

  2. Jaganniwas Iyer says

    The well-read, travelled and endowed with diplomatically variegated experienced Mr. Bhadrakumar, alas, is clearly an apologist for Chinese outlook and perspectives on most global issues. That may be the partial reason for the eagerness to paper over real Sino-Russian differences. the current energy spat between Russia and China is a reflection of Moscow’s genuine concerns vis-a-vis its southern neighbour, which will pass unreported in the politically correct “left-liberal” media. Despite their recent bonomie (barely a decade old) Russia hasn’t shed its suspicions regarding China. Demographically, Russia is a dying nation and the Chinese are only biding their time to push their excess population into Russia’s Siberia (rich in oil and precious metals like gold, too). This region is a prize Beijing has been eyeing for long. The moment it feels it’s in a position to do so, it will start felxing its military muscle (for proof; witness China’s threatening behaviour with us, Japan, Vietnam and others in Asia), apart from of course, bandying about its usual revanchist claims on territoy that supposedly “historically” beloged to China. The author seems more than eager to see a lasting raproachment between these two countres and sets much store by their mutual ganging-up against the US on issues like the current Middle Eastern turmoil, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the ever present bugbear of human rights. While Russian short-term expediences may dictate its current behaviour, it would be a fallacy to assume that problems between Russia and China have been “solved”; they aren’t. The 1969 Ussuri conflict between the two happened in the halcyon days of global communism, which more than amply proves that all talk of ideological compatibility taking precedence over power ambitions will forever remain rhetoric. It is atrocious how Sinophobes never call Beijing’s behaviour into question and are busy conjuringing up an imaginary world.
    Jaganniwas Iyer

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