Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 127

Speaking to reporters yesterday about U.S. President Bill Clinton’s current visit to China, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said that Russia “welcome[s] this development in U.S.-China relations.” He went on to say that cooperation between Beijing and Washington makes an important contribution to stability and security in the region. He added that, in Moscow’s view, Chinese-U.S. cooperation should serve as part of a broader effort at cooperation in Asia that would also include Russia and Japan. Relations among these four countries, Rakhmanin said, “will play a stabilizing role in the future of the Pacific region and contribute to prosperity in this region of the world.” (Xinhua, Russian agencies, July 1)

Russia itself enjoys close relations with Beijing and considers the Chinese-Russian “strategic partnership” to be one of the linchpins of its foreign policy in Asia. Russian and Chinese leaders have themselves conducted several “summit” meetings in recent years, and the next is scheduled for this autumn when Chinese President Jiang Zemin is to meet with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow. China is, moreover, a major buyer of Russian military hardware. The two sides have pledged to boost bilateral trade in general. That does not erase the fact, however, that for all the political proclamations issued by Moscow and Beijing, trade between the two countries is paltry compared to that between China and the United States. Russian-Chinese trade stood at approximately US$6 billion in 1997, a tiny percentage of China’s overall foreign trade total of US$320 billion. (Xinhua, February 18) Chinese-U.S. trade currently amounts to some US$80 billion annually. (The Washington Post, June 4)