President Vladimir Putin said in Moscow Saturday that China-Russia strategic partnership is a positive element in the international order, and pledged continued efforts to ensure that bilateral ties will go forward steadily.
He made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Xinhua prior to a visit to China on March 21-22 at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Putin's visit to Beijing coincides with the launching of the Year of Russia in China in 2006. The president is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the event.
Putin said the holding of the Year of Russia in China will help strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries and Russia hopes to expand bilateral cooperation in science and technology, culture and physical education.
The Russian president lauded China's remarkable economic achievements, saying China's technology and education have also advanced rapidly along with its ever-increasing international reputation.
There exists broad prospects for bilateral cooperation in the fields of humanities and information exchange, Putin noted.
"Our overall impressions of each other, to a large extent, are based on our past experience," Putin said. "Therefore, it is highly important to let the two peoples know better about the real life in Russia and China, about the achievements they have been making over recent years."
The decision on launching the Year of Russia in China in 2006 and the Year of China in Russia in 2007 totally meets the requirement for the task of promoting bilateral ties, Putin said, adding that a series of grand events to be held during the two years are aimed to bring the two peoples closer and enrich the creative cooperation with new ideas and activities, which will be ultimately conducive to promoting the strategic partnership between the two countries to a new level.
To strengthen the understanding and friendship between the two peoples, it is far from enough only by holding some events within the framework of the two Years, Putin said.
Russia and China should go all out to increase exchanges in science and technology, culture, physical education, youth and tourism, he added, saying that the two sides have already gained experiences in such cooperation and achieved some fruits.
On his forthcoming visit to Beijing, Putin said he is always very happy to meet with President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders.
Putin expressed the hope that his visit would yield new substantial fruits, which would be conducive to vigorously developing the Russia-China strategic partnership.
He hailed the unprecedented development of Russia-China ties, saying that Russia and China have resolved all their major political problems, including border issues, thus raising their mutual trust to a completely new level.
The active development of Russia-China relations has convincingly shown that being pragmatic and holding constructive dialogues are more effective than holding grudges against each other and being endlessly entangled in disputes left over from history, the president said.
Both countries have carried out active cooperation on the international arena, have closely cooperated with each other in global and regional organizations, and have been partners in coping with terrorism and other existing threats, he said, adding that bilateral trade and economic ties are full of vigor and investment and high-tech cooperation are all the more prosperous.
Russia believes that there are the broadest prospects for Sino-Russian relations in all respects and we will continue to make every endeavor to ensure that bilateral ties will go forward steadily, he went on to say, noting Russia is willing to solve existing problems in a patient way and is determined not to balk at difficulties.
"I firmly believe that such close strategic partnership conforms to the long-term interests of both countries and their people," said Putin, adding that the Sino-Russian strategic partnership is not only becoming a positive element in the international order, but is also conducive to the realization of both nations' goals to modernize themselves.
The President said coordination and cooperation between Russia and China have become a stabilizing factor in international affairs.
"The foreign policies of Russia and China follow similar principles -- pragmatism and constantly safeguarding national interests," he said.
"I would like to point out once again that the experience of Russia-China cooperation clearly indicates coordination and cooperation between Russia and China have become a stabilizing factor in international affairs," he said.
Putin enumerated the fields of Russia-China cooperation in international efforts, including international security, anti-terrorism, prevention of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, fight against organized crimes and drug trafficking, prevention of deterioration of the ecological system, elimination of poverty and control of pandemics, where whether efforts of the international community will be successful relies on Russia-China cooperation in many respects, he said.
On reform of the UN Security Council and the United Nations at large, Putin said that both Russia and China maintain that any such reform should be carried out in a balanced way based on extensive agreement among member countries.
He mentioned a joint statement on world order in the 21st century signed with Chinese President Hu Jintao in July 2005, describing it as a very important systematic document.
According to Putin, both Russia and China agree that negative impacts of "double standards" on international affairs are constantly obvious; serious problems in arms control and nonproliferation still exist; and signs of conflict among different civilizations are making themselves increasingly obvious," he said.
It should be acknowledged that such conflict has not only been caused by terrorism and extremism, but is also a result of the move of someone to handle international relations in ideology-based and stereotyped ways, and their attempt to forcibly "export democracy" and impose their own cultures, standards of living and values on other people, Putin said.
He said that the strategic partnership between Russia and China is transparent, is not directed against any third party and is of realistic promotional effects to establishing a fairer international order.
While expressing satisfaction over the momentum of growth in bilateral trade, Putin called attention to existing problems.
A leading problem, according to the president, is irrationality of the structure of Russia-China trade, particularly the structure of Russia's exports to China, which has failed to reflect the two countries' development potential. He highlighted the fact that Russian machinery exports to China dropped by nearly a half last year.
"We believe more concerted efforts should be made to promote Russia's export of machinery to markets in China, particularly products of Russia with an absolutely competitive edge," Putin said.
Energy cooperation between Russia and China is progressing favorably with a promising future, Putin said.
He said the two countries are discussing the possibility of building an oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to China, as a branch of the planned oil pipeline that runs from eastern Siberia to Russia's Pacific coast.
"Russia's oil exports to China are increasing steadily," Putin said, adding that "If the proposed oil pipeline is completed, oil supplies to China will be significantly increased."
"Cooperation in the field of natural gas is also of bright prospects," said Putin.
The president said that cooperation is underway in accordance with the strategic cooperative agreements reached between Russia's gas giant Gazprom and its Chinese counterpart.
Putin said that apart from exporting electricity to China, Russia is to attract investments from China for the construction of large-scale power generating plants that will be able to provide electricity for markets including China.
Talking on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which groups together China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Putin said the SCO has truly become an organization of regional integration, with regional cooperation in economic and social fields being steadily strengthened.
The group is seeking new forms of cooperation, in order that "our cooperation will generate the most positive impacts on the livelihood of the 3 billion people in the world who are covered by the SCO," he said.
"The SCO will celebrate its fifth anniversary on June 15 ... The SCO doesn't have a long history, but its members have not only completed the tasks set at the founding of the organization, but also surpassed the initial goals," he added.
Apart from the organization's six founding members, the SCO has also taken economically and socially important countries like India, Iran, Pakistan and Mongolia as observers, the president said.
The organization continues to work toward safeguarding regional stability and security, combating separatism, extremism and terrorism, he said.
The SCO summit scheduled for June in Shanghai will not only reemphasize the founding principles of the group, but also carry forward the spirit to demonstrate the member states' willingness to mapping out new ways of international cooperation, he said.