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China, Russia inching closer to each other amid Western pressure
Photo: image.baidu.cn
 
Qingdao, a coastal city in China’s eastern Shandong province, became a center of attention of the international media as it is hosting the 18th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization  (SCO), an event surely to witness China and Russia inching closer to each other amid mounting pressures from the West in the geo-political landscape in recent memory.
 
The SCO summit kicks off in Qingdao on Sunday as the host China was at odds with the United States over an annual trade imbalance of some 375 billion U.S. dollars in China’s favor, and Washington threatened to imposed tariffs on 50 billion U.S. dollars of Chinese products if Beijing did not buy more from the United States.
 
Beijing was also at loggerheads with Washington over the South China sea and Taiwan issue, with the United States sending its warships to islands or reefs under Chinese control under the name of free navigation, a move seen by China as flexing its muscles at its doorsteps or a serious military provocation which undermined peace and stability in the South China sea.
 
Even worse, Beijing could hardly conceal its indignation over hawkish voices in Washington that egged the U.S. navy on to dock its warships in Taiwan, encourage exchange of official visits with Taiwan, increase Taiwan’s defence capabilities, send U.S. soldiers back to Taiwan to take part in its military exercises.
 
Beijing believed its reunification with breakaway Taiwan was the core interest of China and also the most sensitive issue in Sino-U.S. relations, any increase of U.S. official contacts with Taiwan wound step on the red lines of China.
The on-going U.S. Asia Pacific rebalancing strategy has become something notorious in China, and many believe the core of such a strategy was to curb and contain the rise of China as well as its influence in the region and beyond.
 
Both China and Russia were listed as strategic rivals by the United States, and in the run up to the 18th SOC summit in Qingdao, Russia was increasingly isolated by its traditional foes in Europe over Ukraine, Syria, Nato expansion and many other issues, and Russian companies were sanctioned and virtually barred from the European or American financial markets.
 
Inevitably, the U.S. and Western pressure as a whole pushed China and Russia to move closer to each other, and the SCO summit in Qingdao were expected to see further cooperation of member countries,  and China and Russia in particular.
 
Bilateral trade between China and Russia were rising in recent years with the Russian side reporting a trade volume of 87 billion U.S dollars in 2017 or a 31.5 percent increase over the previous year, and the two countries were expected to increase the bilateral trade to some 200 billion U.S. dollars by 2020.
 
The two countries also coordinated their stance and tried to speak in one voice on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, the future of Syria and many other regional and global issues mutual concern.
 
Before attending the Qingdao summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a state visit to Beijing to grand welcoming ceremonies by his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
 
“China would like to make joint efforts with Russia to strength high-level trust and expand cooperation in all areas to pass on the China-Russia friendship to more generations”, President Xi told Putin in Beijing. 
 
During the meeting, Xi pledged he would continue to work with Putin to guide China-Russia relations to an even brighter future by upholding the spirit of neighborly friendship, strategic coordination and win-win cooperation.
 
This was the 25th meeting between Xi and Putin, who had called each other bosom friend,  the close personal ties between the two most powerful men on earth  were sure to consolidate the foundation of a strong and healthy relation between China and Russia in the years to come.
 
In Beijing, Xi also decorated Putin with the country’s first-ever Friendship Medal, the highest honor of China to foreigners for his “long standing prominent work in strengthening friendship and partnership between China and Russia”.
 
For his part, Putin said he valued the medal not only as a high personal honor, but also as an evidence of the comprehensive strategic partnership  between the countries.
 
The Russian leader also valued the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which he said accounted for 43 percent of the world’s GDP, a quarter of the world’s population, 23 percent of the total land territories on earth.
 
“Coupled with rich resources and vast military potentials, the SCO is a tremendous force”, Putin told reporters during his trip to China.
 
Currently the SCO, founded 17 years ago, groups China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan. 

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