Russian President Putin Guest of Honor at Beijing Belt and Road Forum in April
Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Beijing from April 26-27 to take part in the upcoming Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, Russia’s Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov has stated, adding that the Russian leader would be the main guest of the event.
Denisov stated that “As for the [Russian-Chinese] contacts at the high and summit level, of what know as of today this will be the April summit of the One Belt, One Road initiative, where Vladimir Vladimirovich has been invited as the main guest. The dates have already been confirmed, we are waiting for our president in China on April 26th and 27th.”
Denisov also stressed that diplomatic cooperation of Moscow and Beijing last year was “rather impressive”. “Four meetings took place last year, for summits of our leaders, six meetings of the foreign ministers and four meetings of the defense ministers,” he said. “A regular meeting of the heads of government also took place” last year, the ambassador added.
He said that last year the prime ministers of Russia and China also met separately with the presidents. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev met for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping while Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They met in a bilateral format as well as on the sidelines of international events.
As I have recently pointed out, China’s Belt and Road Initiative appears to be developing increasingly as a joint project, and especially so when it comes to two main factors: Russian military support for Chinese assets when the going gets tough, such as the recent situation in Venezuela, and again when it comes to the overall infrastructure development of Eurasia. Both countries appear committed to the longer-term objective of their proposed “Great Eurasian Partnership”.
The implications of this Union will be profound and far reaching. Slowly, other academics and global business leaders are beginning to catch on, The Economist magazine lead its issue last week with the statement “In The Future, Eurasia Will Rule The World” showcasing several recent academic tomes on the subject, while George Soros has warned Europe of its immediate position given the rise of China and Russia. While I don’t concur with much of Soros doom-laden rhetoric, I do agree that the EU is sleepwalking into the future. I illustrated a couple of months ago when I pointed out the EU’s Asia policy omitted any mention of the Belt & Road Initiative and only passing reference to China. The eastern European EU states are also becoming impatient with Brussels concerning sovereignty issues and the overall attitude towards China and Russia.
In my opinion, the most interesting subject at the upcoming forum will be how Beijing and Moscow view the EU. It was probably not the best idea for Brussels to have all EU Ambassadors write a joint statement 10 months ago sharply criticizing the Belt and Road as “divisive” and “unequal” and effectively giving Russian President Vladimir Putin the first option and primary initiatives concerning involvement. It will be fascinating to see what comes out of the meetings.
Silk Road Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the practice Chairman. The firm has 26 years of China operations with offices throughout China, Asia and Europe. Please refer to our Belt & Road desk or visit our website at www.dezshira.com for further information.