Russia and China reiterated their commitment to a "strategic partnership" during a visit to Moscow this week by a large Chinese delegation under the leadership of Gen. Liu Huaqing, the vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission. Liu held separate meetings on August 25 with Russian deputy prime minister Yakov Urinson and defense minister Igor Sergeev. The Russian defense chief used the occasion to describe China as one of Moscow’s most important partners in the Asia-Pacific region, and he emphasized that the friendship between the two countries would be a long-lasting one. In his own meeting with Liu yesterday, Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin spoke in similar terms, declaring that relations between the two countries had assumed a "positive character" unsurpassed previously.
The energies of the two sides this week were focused not on issuing political declarations, however, but on what appear to have been pragmatic talks dealing with their ongoing military-technical cooperation. Liu, who oversees such issues within the Chinese leadership, participated on August 25 in the sixth meeting of a joint Russian-Chinese intergovernmental commission on military-technical cooperation. Discussion at the session reportedly was devoted to resolving problems in the supply of spare parts to China for Russian-made military aircraft, and also on questions concerning the licensing of Chinese production of Russia’s Su-27 fighter.
According to Russian economics minister Yakov Urinson, who headed the Russian delegation, the two sides also resumed talks on a project under which Russia would build Sovremenny-class destroyers for China, and they raised the possibility of Moscow repaying its debts to Beijing by supplying China with military hardware. In what may suggest some dissatisfaction on Beijing’s part with the Russian armaments it has received to date, Urinson also said that China had urged Moscow to improve the post-sale servicing it is providing for its weaponry. Such servicing has often been cited as a weakness of Russia’s arms export establishment.
The Chinese delegation is to remain in Russia until September 4. It’s itinerary includes talks with leaders of Russia’s recently restructured state arms trading company, Rosvooruzhenie, and visits to various defense enterprises throughout the country. The tour will include stops in Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, and Khabarovsk. (Russian agencies, August 25-27; Xinhua, August 25)
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