Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 79

Less than two days after bidding farewell to participants of the G-7 nuclear security summit, Russian president Boris Yeltsin left Moscow today for Khabarovsk. After a brief stopover there, he will continue on to Beijing, where talks are scheduled to begin on Wednesday. In political terms, the trip provides Yeltsin with yet another high-profile international event to fuel his reelection effort. At the same time, it continues the grueling campaign schedule that he has taken on at least in part to dispel notions that he is no longer physically up to the presidency.

But there is also much of substance to Yeltsin’s China trip. It is meant to cap what has been the most successful foreign policy goal pursued by Russia during Yeltsin’s presidency. The deepening friendship with China not only could provide Russia’s beleaguered economy with a major trading partner and a potential opening to the booming Asian economy but, in Moscow’s view, also serves as a counterweight to Russia’s problematic relationship with the West. Yeltsin’s foreign policy adviser, Dmitri Ryurikov, described the visit as a "major event not only for bilateral relations, but also an event of the year in international political life." Yeltsin told the official Chinese news agency that there are currently "no problems of a political nature between Russia and China." He added that the "ultimate aim" of Russian efforts is to create in the Asia-Pacific region a "kind of regional commonwealth of security." (Itar-Tass, April 22)

The Agenda.