Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 136

In addition to consultations on military-technical cooperation and on a Russian-Chinese summit scheduled for September (see yesterday’s Monitor), talks between the Russian and Chinese Prime Ministers in Beijing on July 14 focused on boosting trade in other areas. In particular, Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko and his Chinese counterpart, Zhu Rongji, discussed projects to transport gas from eastern Siberia to China and to import electricity to China from Russia’s Irkutsk region. Also under discussion was the construction by Russia of a nuclear power plant in eastern China’s Lianyungang region. In addition, the two sides reportedly discussed increased cooperation in transport and high technologies, and the possible lease by Chinese airlines of Russian Il-96 and Tu-204 aircraft. Kirienko said that Moscow was interested in bringing Chinese production facilities to Russia, particularly to regions currently facing significant unemployment problems. (AP, July 14; Russian agencies, July 14-15)

Kirienko’s five-hour stopover was his first visit to Beijing. It was also the first time that Kirienko and Zhu Rongji met. In an effort to lift flagging bilateral trade, the two men agreed on July 14 to step up the work of the bilateral cooperation commission they co-chair. They also took steps aimed at increasing economic contacts and other forms of commercial activity at both the national and at regional levels, especially between border regions. Russia and China had earlier set US$20 billion as a target for annual bilateral trade turnover by the year 2000, but seem unlikely to attain that goal. Trade in 1997 amounted to US$6.12 billion, down ten percent from 1996. That decline has continued into 1998. (Itar-Tass, July 9) Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov is scheduled to follow up Kirienko’s July 14 talks with a visit of his own to Beijing on July 22-26, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said. (AP, July 14)