Addressing a conference on international relations in Moscow June 14, Russian deputy foreign minister Aleksandr Panov criticized those Russian foreign policy analysts who, in his words, see confrontation between Russia and China as inevitable. The comment suggested that some in Russia have misgivings about increasingly close relations between the two Asian giants. Panov, however, defended Moscow’s "strategic partnership" with Beijing as the only way to safeguard the national interests of the two countries. Chinese ambassador to Russia Li Fenglin spoke in stronger terms. He described the current state of Sino-Russian relations as the best and most healthy in history and–in a thinly-veiled jab at the U.S. — characterized cooperation between Moscow and Beijing as a key counterweight to "hegemonism and the politics of force" in the international arena. (Interfax, Xinhua, June 14)
But Li Fenglin also made reference to the impossibility of resolving all differences between the two countries, a dissonance that was reflected June 14 in a Russian Foreign Ministry protest over the detention in China of two Russian businessmen. The pair, involved in a Chinese-Russian joint venture, were accused of failing to meet their business obligations and were jailed in the city of Weifan. The Russian foreign ministry has called for their release and submission of the case to a court of arbitration. (Itar-Tass, May 15)
Free Agricultural Trade Agreement Signed.