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Dmitry Medvedev: We intend to deepen our strategic partnership in every possible way

On the eve of the visit to China, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev answered questions from the Chinese newspaper Renmin Ribao

Question: Russia and China are good neighbors, reliable partners and friends. The leadership of our states regularly meets and steadily strengthens the Russian-Chinese relations of a comprehensive strategic partnership, which have already become an example of peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial partnership. Tell me, Mr. Prime Minister, how do you assess the relations between Russia and China?

Dmitry Medvedev: We intend to deepen our strategic partnership in every possible way
Dmitry Medvedev: Russian-Chinese relations of trustful partnership and strategic interaction have reached an unprecedented high level. They meet our national interests, serve as an example of true good-neighborliness and mutual respect, work for the comprehensive modernization of the two countries that live in the rhythm of the new century. There is no sphere in which Russia and China lack intensive dialogue and cooperation.

Over the course of several hundred years, the peoples of our countries have learned to understand each other, interact and be friends. So, according to Chinese traditions, we can be considered “lao peng yu” (old friends). And today the multifaceted ties between Russia and China are the best in their entire history. This is, in the full sense of the word, mutually beneficial cooperation, in which there are no elders and juniors, leaders and followers.

We intend to deepen our strategic partnership in every way. And it's not just about political and economic expediency. The main thing is that the citizens of the two countries have a great interest in each other. You probably know that more and more people in Russia are now studying Chinese. In turn, the number of Russian language courses in China is growing, which means that people want to learn more about modern Russia.

Since 2010, the PRC has firmly held the position of the largest trading partner of our country. Strategic projects in the energy sector are being implemented, cooperation is developing in high-tech industries - space, aircraft construction, nuclear energy, military-technical cooperation. We pay great attention to the investment and financial component of our practical ties. The social base of bilateral relations, direct contacts between people is also expanding.

There is a saying in Russia: a close neighbor is better than distant relatives. It fully reflects relations between Russia and China, whose common long border has long been a zone of lasting peace, friendship and multifaceted cooperation.

I believe that in recent years we have managed to build a clear system for coordinating joint work and long-term development plans. A striking example is the regular contacts at the level of heads of government, which have been taking place since 1996. And during my visit to China, Mr. Li Keqiang and I will spend 20-yu, anniversary meeting. We have an agreement in principle to combine integration processes within the Eurasian Economic Union with the Chinese initiative for the Silk Road Economic Belt. This provides additional opportunities for the formation of a common economic space.

I would like to emphasize that our interaction in international affairs is of a global and truly strategic nature, and is becoming an increasingly significant factor in world politics. Russia and China effectively cooperate in various multilateral formats, primarily in the UN, GXNUMX, BRICS, SCO, take a balanced and pragmatic approach to solving the most pressing problems of our time, respect the right of each people to independently choose the path of development. We are resolute opponents of pressure on sovereign states, including through unilateral sanctions, forceful methods, and the use of double standards.

I believe that if relations between very many other countries resembled those between Russia and China, this would only benefit the whole world. As an ancient Chinese proverb says, the best fight is the one that never happened.

- The Russian and Chinese economies are characterized by a high degree of complementarity, which is one of the drivers for the constant development of bilateral relations in the spirit of mutually beneficial partnership. What, in your opinion, new points of growth of Russian-Chinese trade and economic cooperation will appear in the future?

- We and our Chinese partners agree that a high level of trust and mutual understanding in the political sphere should also help cooperation in trade, economic, humanitarian and other fields.

Recently, there has been an intensification of bilateral contacts at all levels. The most extensive and multi-level mechanism of bilateral cooperation has been created with China. We do not have such a mechanism with any other country. In addition to the Russian-Chinese commission for the preparation of regular meetings of heads of government, in recent years, intergovernmental Russian-Chinese commissions for energy, humanitarian and investment cooperation have been created at the level of deputy prime ministers.
Since 2010, China has been the leader in terms of mutual trade with Russia. Our countries are facing an ambitious task - by 2020, to increase bilateral trade turnover to USD 200 billion. And we are determined to fulfill it.

The situation in the global economy is now difficult, and this affects all countries without exception. This year there has been a downward trend in the total volume of trade between Russia and China. This happened mainly due to the fall in oil prices. The structure of trade has changed, and now agricultural products and products with high added value began to occupy an increasing share in Russian exports. In particular, according to the results of the first ten months of 2015, the share of supplies of food and agricultural products, metals and metal products, supplies of chemical and even textile products increased in our exports to the PRC. This contributes to the diversification of the Russian economy, encourages companies to more actively integrate into the world economy, find their niches in the production and promotion of products with high added value on the markets.

Our common goal is to remove barriers to mutual trade and investment. We expect that in the coming years the launch of major projects will take place, which will add tens of billions of dollars to our trade turnover and will allow us to re-enter a stable positive trajectory.

Bilateral investment cooperation that can spur trade is gaining momentum. An effective base has been created for its successful development. I mean 58 large joint investment projects, which were approved on June 18 this year in St. Petersburg at the second meeting of the Russian-Chinese Intergovernmental Commission on Investment Cooperation.

Our interaction is intensifying through the Eurasian Economic Union. Since 2012, an early warning mechanism has been in place for sensitive goods of mutual trade. An agreement on the exchange of information on goods and vehicles that move across the customs borders of the EAEU and the PRC is under negotiation. This agreement will minimize the use of gray schemes in trade.

A decision was made to start negotiations on the preparation of an agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the EAEU and the PRC. This agreement will have to provide favorable conditions for the development of practical cooperation and attracting investment in the long term, create mechanisms to simplify and stimulate trade, bring our practices in the field of standards, technical requirements and customs administration rules closer together.

- Russia and China have rich experience in holding interstate thematic years. The year of youth exchanges is coming to an end. How do you assess their results? What are your expectations regarding the upcoming Russian-Chinese media years?

- In the modern world, personal communication between people is becoming an increasingly significant resource in international relations, helping to strengthen trust and mutual understanding. "Nothing can inspire and help people like friendship," said the Chinese writer Ba Jin.

A good stimulus for the development of our humanitarian dialogue is the large-scale thematic events at the state level, which have recently been held in our countries. First we exchanged national years, then years of languages ​​and tourism. All of them turned out to be successful, allowed the peoples of our countries to get to know each other better, learn better about each other's culture, history, modern life, and most importantly, make new friends.

Another important joint action is now coming to an end, the main participants of which are young people from Russia and China. The year of youth exchanges has become a kind of relay baton from older people to a new generation seeking to discover the Celestial Empire.

It is rather difficult to list all the events of this Year - there were more than 600 of them. These are summer schools and camps, meetings of young scientists and entrepreneurs, Olympiads in the knowledge of Russian and Chinese languages, forums and conferences, concerts and film weeks, art exhibitions and sports competitions, educational exchanges students and schoolchildren. The performance of the mixed Russian-Chinese youth orchestra under the direction of our outstanding conductor Valery Gergiev also caused a great resonance.

The years of youth have covered various areas of our humanitarian cooperation - politics, economy, culture, sports, tourism, science and education, information and computer technologies.

Since last year, a project has begun on the annual exchange of 100-member youth delegations from Russia and China. By our common efforts, we managed to achieve that contacts in this area have acquired a massive and regular character. It is also very important that young people of our countries celebrated together 70-anniversary Victory.

I believe that the holding of this large-scale action helped to look at the problems of the modern world in a new way - from the standpoint of a generation that will soon take responsibility for solving them.

The solemn closing of the years of youth exchanges is timed to coincide with the 20-th meeting of the heads of government of Russia and China in Beijing. We agreed to combine the closing ceremony with the opening of a new interesting and popular thematic project - the years of Russian and Chinese media.

We are now finalizing the preparation of a detailed action plan, which contains over 100 joint projects. This is the filming of films, TV series and documentaries, translation and publication of books, book exhibitions. There are also great prospects in cooperation in the field of new media, which are the future of the world's media. During my visit to China, I will participate in the Worldwide Internet Forum in Wuzheng.

I am sure that we will not limit ourselves to the Russian-Chinese media years. There are still a lot of areas in which we can establish a productive dialogue. We will work together on this.

- In the Ufa Declaration of the Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, published in July this year, it is noted that the parties support China's initiative to build an economic belt of the Silk Road. How does Russia cooperate with China and other member countries within the SCO on the construction of the Silk Road economic belt? What role can Russia play in this process?

- China is not only a friend for us, but also one of the key economic partners. That is why we are actively developing the initiative to link the Eurasian Economic Union and the Chinese project "Silk Road Economic Belt". We have identified for ourselves a number of priority areas of interaction - this is the encouragement of mutual investments, the joint implementation of large-scale projects, the creation of industrial parks and cross-border zones of economic cooperation.

We do not seek integration in one direction at the expense of restrictions in another. Of course, the priority for us is the Eurasian Economic Union, but we are beginning to actively interact with China in the framework of the SREB implementation, without abandoning the idea of ​​a single economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. We believe that these projects can develop harmoniously.

In August of this year, the first meeting of the inter-MFA group was held, at which the issues of filling the project of conjugation between the EAEU and the SREB with specifics were discussed. A modern transport and infrastructure system should become one of the main elements of the interface. Here, first of all, it is necessary to consider routes that will improve the reliability of transport corridors, including the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Vladivostok Free Port Zone - the territory in the Far East, which will include the key ports of the region. It is also the space of the Eurasian Union, the development of transport corridors from China through Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus to the countries of the European Union.

For the business of all our countries, the real result of the integration of the EAEU and the Silk Road economic belt should be the simplification of trade and improved protection of mutual investments between the EAEU member states and the PRC. This is about facilitating trade procedures when moving goods across borders, removing regulatory barriers, cooperation in high-tech sectors such as information technology, medical and educational services, e-commerce and energy efficiency.

I believe that by creating a co-development space in Eurasia, we will show an example of a responsible and real partnership in integration issues, we will be able to expand our cooperation not only in the field of energy supplies, but also in high technologies, including modern technologies in transport, industry, construction, communications, agriculture.

- Within the SCO, much attention is paid to cooperation in the field of Internet security. At the beginning of this year, the SCO member states submitted to the UN draft Rules of Conduct in the field of ensuring international information security (IIB). What, from your point of view, is the basis of international cooperation in the field of Internet security?

- The importance of ensuring international information security today can hardly be overestimated. Modern information and communication technologies have become increasingly used for military and political confrontation. In addition, terrorists and criminals have adopted Internet technologies. Many countries are already facing all these problems constantly.

These threats cannot be ignored. It is obvious that, before it is too late, it is necessary to prevent the criminalization of the Internet, to guarantee the observance of human rights in the digital sphere. It is extremely difficult to do this in the absence of a full-fledged international legal framework for cooperation in the field of information security, so the first step in creating an international security system in this area could be the adoption of a code or rules of conduct in the form of soft law.

Universal rules of responsible behavior of states in the information space are the most demanded and promising form of international cooperation in the fight against threats in the field of IIB. This is what the SCO countries were guided by when developing the Rules of Conduct in the field of ensuring international information security. The document is open to suggestions and comments from all interested countries. The basic idea of ​​this initiative - prevention of conflicts and aggression in the information space, keeping it peaceful and free - is supported by the absolute majority of states.

This fact confirms that we are moving in the right direction. The relevance of such unifying initiatives aimed at preventing conflicts in the digital environment is increasing every day. Politics and politicians must stay ahead of technological progress and find timely solutions before technology creates a new reality.

- Online trading platform AliExpress, a subsidiary of Alibaba, founded by Chinese entrepreneur Ma Yun, is already the largest e-commerce platform in Russia today. AliExpress became the first company to facilitate cross-border shopping for residents of regions and villages, many people in Russia are starting to buy Chinese goods through AliExpress. Thus, the "Internet plus" becomes the engine of economic development, the results of which are shared by Russia and China. What is Russia's attitude to economic cooperation through the global network in the era of "Internet plus", what kind of policy exists in this area in Russia?

- We value our relationship and strive to establish even closer cooperation in the most promising areas, including e-commerce, which has been rapidly developing all over the world in recent years.

The convenience of online trading was also appreciated in Russia. We have a lot of online stores that deliver within the country, and some also to the CIS countries. It is fast and beneficial for both buyers and sellers. In 2014, more than 8 million Russians purchased clothes and shoes online. We also have all purchases for state and municipal needs (business-to-government segment), with the exception of purchases conducted in a closed way, are carried out in electronic form.

So far we do not have our own large Internet platform for promoting Russian brands abroad. This year we launched an online project that allows Russian manufacturers of casual clothes and shoes to use the AliExpress trading platform for free to sell their products. In the AliExpress catalog, Russian-made goods are marked as "Made in Russia", their prices are indicated in rubles. It is expected that by the end of this year, about 100 domestic brands of clothing and accessories will be presented on AliExpress. I am sure they will interest both those who live in Russia and foreign buyers.

Of course, we will strive to create our own similar projects. To this end, we are improving the logistics system and export legislation. The very procedure for exporting retail goods abroad has already become easier. Exporters are exempted from paying some customs duties (for performing customs operations when exporting goods that are not subject to export customs duties and sent in international mail). Express cargo declarations can be submitted electronically.

In the field of development of distance selling, the experience of your country is very useful for us. We are carefully studying China's experiment to create a pilot cross-border e-commerce zone in Hangzhou, the purpose of which is to build an entire industrial chain of e-commerce and form the legal framework and rules for working in this area.

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