PLEDGES OF CLOSER SINO-RUSSIAN RELATIONS COINCIDES WITH DELIVERY OF DESTROYER
At the very first meeting of the “China-Russia Friendly Strategic Dialogue” on September 28, Russian and Chinese officials praised the mutual relationship between their two countries. In the presence of fifty Chinese and Russian experts and scholars who had convened to discuss the issues of regional security, counter-terrorism and energy cooperation, Mihail Nikolaev, vice-chairman of the Federation Council of Russia, declared that the two countries have built a “new type of nation-to-nation relationship based on mutual trust and mutual benefit” (Xinhua, September 28). Yet this strategic partnership was not aimed at any particular third country, Nikolaev assured his audience, and would not lead to an alliance. Li Guixian, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) praised the launch of the strategic dialogue by adding that it would “increas[e] friendship and mutual trust between the two nations.” Separately, Zhang Qinsheng, assistant to the Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced that China and Russia would hold joint military war games and programs in 2007, the “Year of China in Russia” and vice versa (Xinhua, September 28). The same day, Interfax reported that the second of two Project 956EM Sovremenny guided-missile destroyers was transferred from the Severnaya Verf shipyard in St. Petersburg to the PRC (Interfax, September 28). China had previously signed a US$1.4 billion contract for the two destroyers in 2002; the first destroyer was delivered to the Chinese at the end of 2005.