07MOSCOW1291, RUSSIA-CHINA RELATIONS — PART 1

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW1291 2007-03-26 02:57 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4920
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDBU RUEHFK RUEHHM RUEHKSO RUEHPB
DE RUEHMO #1291/01 0850257
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 260257Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8569
INFO RUEHZU/ASIAN PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION PRIORITY
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 001291 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/23/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON ETRD ENRG CH RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA-CHINA RELATIONS -- PART 1 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Daniel A. Russell.  Reasons 1,4 
(B/D). 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1.  (C) President Hu's upcoming visit to Russia March 26-29 
will showcase a thriving bilateral relationship, with the 
launching of the much-hyped "Year of China" in Russia, a 
publicity stop at Kazan, and the decision to open another 
Russian consulate in Guangzhou.  Moscow's China experts 
differ in how they see the relationship, but many agree that 
the positive Russian-Chinese dynamic will continue for the 
foreseeable future.  For the moment, Russia seems content to 
focus on the immediate political and economic benefits of a 
much improved relationship with its giant neighbor.  Today's 
flourishing ties notwithstanding, China's growing influence 
and its potential as a rival will obviously pose challenges 
as well as present opportunities.  End summary. 
 
----------------- 
Bilateral Harmony 
----------------- 
 
2.  (C) In a recent overview of Russian-Chinese relations, 
Konstantin Vnukov, Director of the MFA's First Asia 
Department, emphasized the strengthening of ties in every 
area.  According to Vnukov, Russia aspired to the Chinese 
model:  rapid economic development accompanied by social 
stability via Russia's "national projects."  The MFA China 
Desk's Aleksandr Shchmanevskiy echoed Vnukov, and gave credit 
to the two countries' leaders for the positive dynamic.  The 
two presidents met six times last year and were likely to 
exceed that total this year.  The Russian Consulate in 
Guangzhou, the fourth after Shanghai, Shenyang and Hong Kong, 
will be opened soon. 
 
3. (C) Russian officials lauded the rapid growth in trade and 
investments.  Although the volume of bilateral trade in 2006 
was USD 30 billion, a fraction of the U.S.-China turnover, 
officials here were confident that it would total USD 60-80 
billion by 2010.  Gui Congyu of the Chinese Embassy expressed 
the same sentiment: never in the history of Russia-China 
relations had things been this good on all fronts. 
 
4.  (C) A critical political bond in Russia-PRC relations, 
experts told us, was both countries' insistence on 
"non-interference in internal affairs."  China's "peace 
course," which preached good relationships with everyone drew 
special praise; even the relationship with Japan had improved 
since Abe had assumed office.  Dmitriy Babich, a journalist 
for Russian Profile magazine, singled out the appeal of 
China's "preventive" diplomacy, which avoided direct and 
abusive criticism, tactics that many Russians associated with 
Western diplomacy; Russia was attracted to China because 
"they do not criticize us." 
 
--------------------------------------- 
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) 
--------------------------------------- 
 
5.  (C) Both the MFA' SCO coordinator and the Chinese Embassy 
told us that the SCO would be on the agenda for the two 
presidents when they meet next week.  Neither was forthcoming 
on initiatives to be discussed.  According to Gennadiy 
Chufrin, Deputy Director of the Institute of World Economy 
and International Relations (IMEMO), the GOR will try to 
steer the SCO toward boosting economic development while the 
Chinese side will push for more military and security 
cooperation.  Aleksandr Lukin, Director of the Center for 
East Asian and SCO Studies at the Moscow State Institute of 
International Relations (MGIMO), believed that there was a 
constant push and pull between the "go-fast" Chinese and the 
"go-slow" Russians.  Some analysts here believed that in time 
the SCO could develop into a "NATO 2" given China's political 
ambitions and economic power, but its military exercises to 
date have been largely symbolic. 
 
6.  (C) Analysts agreed that it would be overly simplistic to 
identify anti-Americanism as the binding force behind the 
SCO.  Indeed, Leonid Moiseyev, the MFA's new SCO coordinator, 
told us that the SCO's objective was not to counterbalance 
the U.S.  MFA Diplomatic Academy Director Bazhanov disagreed, 
citing Uzbekistan's resumption of membership in 2001, and 
Iran's courtship of the SCO as evidence that the SCO was seen 
as a counterbalance to the U.S.  Bazhanov claimed that the 
SCO had initially focused on economics, but the U.S.'s 
"misguided" policies, including its efforts to establish 
military bases in Central Asia, politicized the organization. 
 
 
MOSCOW 00001291  002 OF 003 
 
 
 
------------------------------- 
China's Attraction As A Partner 
------------------------------- 
 
7.  (C) Most Moscow scholars tended to see Russia's 
continuing rapid engagement with China as a tool for 
survival.  Chufrin said flatly that China was Russia's most 
important partner, if only because Russia could not affo
rd a 
bad relationship with such a (physically and economically) 
powerful neighbor.  The anti-U.S. sentiment that seemingly 
bound the two countries, he added, was the by-product of 
"bad" U.S. policies rather than something intrinsic in 
bilateral ties.  Bazhanov shared Chufrin's view.  He said 
that the Russia-China bilateral relationship had progressed 
rapidly because of: 
 
-- internal developments in Russia and in China where both 
countries faced the task of reform; 
 
-- mutual economic interests, where Russia needed an 
alternative outlet for energy and arms; 
 
-- shared opposition to unipolarity; and a 
 
-- common agenda on many international issues including 
counter-terrorism, North Korea, the Middle East and NATO 
enlargement. 
 
8. (C) Aleksey Bogaturov of MGIMO viewed engagement with 
China as part of Putin's strategic diversification paradigm. 
Bogaturov opposed the ever-present Russian "zero sum" 
approach: engaging with China did not have to go hand-in-hand 
with rejecting the West.  Russia's optimal course should be 
the pragmatic one.  Others were more cynical about Russia's 
motives, with Director of the Institute of National Strategy 
Stanislav Belkovskiy scoffing at the GOR's new "love affair" 
with China, describing it as an attempt to get leverage with 
the West. 
 
9.  (C) Aleksey Voskressenkiy of MGIMO maintained that the 
bitter experience of the nineties, widely perceived here as a 
period of turmoil and national humiliation, left many 
Russians with the feeling that the U.S. was "egoistic" and 
interested in keeping Russia weak.  China's path was the road 
not taken by Russia.  Journalist Babich agreed that fifteen 
years of humiliation had caused the pendulum to swing to 
China, the  natural, fallback ally. 
 
10.  (C) Relations with China have also taken on a new light 
given Russia's growing difficulties with the West.  The March 
7 edition of the national daily Izvestiya, in fact, ran a 
piece entitled "Via Munich to the East," which contrasted the 
West, politically unified and constantly critical of Russia, 
with the East, politically diverse and uncritical of Russia. 
The author suggested the Russia-China-India triangle could 
become more viable than Russia's checkered relationship with 
the West.  A group of scholars at the Institute of Far 
Eastern Studies, including Director Mikhail Titorenko and 
Deputy Director Vladimir Portyakov, believe China provided an 
alternative to the "unreliable" and "unilateral" U.S., and 
they saw in the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation 
Organization (SCO) a potential counter to the U.S. 
 
-------------- 
Contrary Views 
-------------- 
 
11.  (C) Not every analyst was so positive about Russia's 
dealings with China.  Aleksandr Khramchikhin of the Political 
and Military Analysis Institute believed that China had been 
establishing its own sphere of influence for some time. 
Vilya Gelbras of Moscow State University (MGU), an outspoken 
critic of the GOR's China policy, maintained that Russia 
lacked a clear strategy.  He suggested that instead of 
expanding the scale of the relationship without a clear 
vision, the GOR should put the Russian Far East in order with 
a robust development plan.  Gelbras also advised Russian 
authorities to study the reasons for China's economic 
prosperity, and identify what factors prevented Russia from 
achieving the same.  Many resident China hands blamed the GOR 
for most of the bilateral irritants, describing them as a 
product of Russia's internal problems, having little to do 
with China. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
12.  (C) Powerful economic interests and China's 
attractiveness as a partner that shares many of Russia's 
 
MOSCOW 00001291  003 OF 003 
 
 
political predilections are widely seen as driving forces in 
the improved Sino-Russian relationship.  At the same time, 
among the expert community here, there is an emerging sense 
(finally) that China has arrived and outstripped Russia in 
doing so.  China's economic rise will obviously have 
strategic political and military consequences for Russia, but 
they have not yet become a major concern for Moscow's policy 
makers and China watchers.  Septel will look at the irritants 
in Russian-Chinese relations. 
BURNS

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