Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 84

Russian officials who accompanied Boris Yeltsin to China suggest that Moscow’s efforts to relax military tensions and reduce military forces along the Russo-Chinese border were part of a grander plan to accelerate regional economic development in the Far East. According to one official, Yeltsin’s goal of raising annual bilateral trade turnover from its current $5.5 billion to $20 billion by the year 2005 compelled Moscow to finance development of the border region’s economic — rather than its military — infrastructure. With this in mind, the two countries have reportedly agreed to build up the infrastructure around the now poorly developed customs points along the border.

Moscow has also identified priority areas in the promotion of bilateral trade. According to foreign trade minister Oleg Davydov, they are in the energy sector, the aerospace industry, and software development. In addition to new projects in these areas, Moscow would also like to play a major role in the modernization of Chinese industrial facilities built with the USSR’s assistance in the 1950s. The transition along the joint border from a policy of military parity to one of "military confidence," as two top Russian military leaders put it, is also expected to promote Russian military sales to China. Military-technical cooperation was identified by Russian officials as another priority trade area. (Interfax, April 29)

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