Russia, China 'closer'
CHINESE Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Russia, which ends today, has emphasised rapidly improving ties between the two countries, which were strained for most of the last century. Energy has topped the bill in Mr Wen's talks with President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov. Large, reliable sources of energy are China's greatest import need, and energy is Russia's dominant export, driving its recent growth. Mr Wen sought to advance plans to build gas and oil pipelines from Russia to China. But the pro-Kremlin newspaper Vremya Novostyei editorialised that while the decision to build the pipelines was a joint one "that benefits both countries", China had so far appeared unwilling to pay the international market price - by which Moscow means the price the Europeans are paying. Russian construction of two nuclear reactors at Tianwan in China's Jiangsu province, just north of Shanghai, is proceeding rapidly. The first two units began operating earlier this year. Mr Wen has also signed 10 co-operation agreements during his visit and has marked the completion of a cultural "Year of China" in Russia. Mr Putin assured Mr Wen that Russia's policy towards China would not change after he left office next March, when presidential elections are due. The leaders said relations between the countries had never been as good. The nations are increasingly co-ordinating their efforts within multilateral agencies including the UN, where they both want to curb Western moves to intervene on human rights grounds in countries mired in traumatic conflicts. And they are working closely in building up the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, which includes most countries in Central Asia, into a powerful security and economic alliance. But rapidly growing trade is at the core of the links.
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Russia to Build Space Complex Near Chinese Border, Ivanov Says
Russia will build a space complex near the border with China capable of launching military and civilian rockets, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said, as the country moves to revive its Soviet-era space program. The new site in the Far East region of Amur will conduct a manned flight by 2018, Ivanov said yesterday, according to the official Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper. President Vladimir Putin signed the decree to create the center, he said. "It will be called Vostochny,'' meaning eastern, Ivanov said at a rocket research and production center in the southern city of Samara. The first unmanned launches will start in 2015. Russia currently launches manned flights, many carrying U.S. and other international crews, from the Soviet-era Baikonur space center in neighboring Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. Russian government officials have said rockets, particularly those for the military, should be launched from Russian territory for security reasons.
Kazakhstan has complained in the past about environmental damage from failed Russian rockets. The world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched from Baikonur in 1957, and the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, began his mission from the center in 1961. Russia shouldn't turn into a launch service for the International Space Station, Ivanov said yesterday at a meeting of the country's military and industrial commission, the state newspaper reported. The new base should act as a spur to revive the Russian space industry, Ivanov said. The country has "exhausted its scientific reserves created in the 1980s,'' Ivanov said. "Domestic industry has practically lost its capability to develop and produce'' components for spacecraft and now "purchase the needed equipment abroad.''
Russia and India agreed earlier this month to send an unmanned mission to the moon and build a laboratory on the lunar surface. "Delivery to the moon of a complete research laboratory is planned,'' Anatoly Perminov, head of Russian space agency Roskosmos, said in a statement on its Web site at the time. ``Russia and India will create a joint space vehicle,'' he added. The U.S. landed a man on the moon in 1969, the only country to do so. Ivanov said Baikonur will remain the main launch site for the International Space Station and other joint space programs.
Russia, China plan new pipeline
PetroChina is planning a third east-west pipeline to bring gas from Russia. The oil company's plans would bring Russian and domestic natural gas to the Beijing region. Plans are in a preliminary stage. There have been no on-site studies, but a likely route will be from the Altai area to the Bohai Bay. PetroChina already operates the first west-east pipeline to the Shanghai area where demand has outstripped supply and work is expected to begin soon on a second pipeline. "The third line will likely be formally proposed soon after the full start of the construction of the second line early next year," said a PetroChina spokesperson. The trunk line is expected be about 3,728 miles with branch lines bringing the total length to nearly 5,000 miles. China is the world's second-largest energy consumer and is pushing more use of natural gas instead of coal.
Russia, China Seal Power Agreements
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Zubkov attending the Russia-China economic forum that took place on Tuesday. Russia signed deals Tuesday to help China develop another uranium enrichment facility and to build two more nuclear reactors for a power station on China's eastern coast, nuclear officials said. State nuclear firm Tenex said it signed a deal to help China build a fourth gas centrifuge enrichment facility to produce low-enriched uranium suitable for use in civilian power stations. The Federal Atomic Energy Agency said its building contractor, Atomstroiexport, also signed a deal to build two more reactors at the Tianwan plant in Jiangsu province, where Russia finished building two reactors this year. "The Tianwan atomic station has become a glittering example of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Russia in the sphere of nuclear energy," Atomstroiexport said in a statement. President Vladimir Putin, who rules the world's second-biggest oil exporter, says relations with China are at a historic high, and Chinese President Hu Jintao describes Putin as his "good friend." The agreement for the nuclear reactors at Tianwan is preliminary and does not set a time frame or price for the reactors, but it is potentially worth several billion dollars. Each Russian nuclear reactor is worth about $2 billion and takes about five years to build, but China could get a discount because Russia has already built two reactors there. The first 1-gigawatt reactor began commercial operation in May and the second in July. Russia also signed an agreement to set up another gas centrifuge enrichment facility with an annual capacity of 500,000 separative work units, or SWU, a Tenex spokesman said. An SWU is a unit of measurement of the effort needed to separate the U-235 and U-238 atoms in natural uranium in order to create a final product that is richer in U-235 atoms. Speaking at an economic forum of government and business representatives from the two countries Tuesday, Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said Russia wanted to increase high-tech industry exports to China. Technology exports "constitute the narrowest area of Russian-Chinese cooperation," Zubkov said. The country's "share of Chinese markets can and must be bigger." Crude oil products accounted for 54 percent of $15.75 billion in Russian exports to China last year, according to the Economic Development and Trade Ministry. China is the fourth largest foreign trade partner after Germany, Netherlands and Italy. Russia is seeking to move from relying on oil and gas sales to making high-tech industries the nation's primary economic driver by 2020. Agreements totaling almost $3 billion will be signed during the forum, Economic Development and Trade Minister Elvira Nabiullina said. She did not provide details.