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Regional cooperation boosts high-level development of China-Russia relations

By Wu Yan, Qu Pei (People's Daily)    09:06, May 30, 2019

Regional cooperation is always considered an important driver and a new growth point for China-Russia relations. From investment and trade to education and culture, and from government affairs to entrepreneurs and students exchanges, the two countries enjoy increasingly diversified forms of regional cooperation, and are gradually expanding the fields of cooperation,.

The senior officials and local governments of both China and Russia are seeking better ways to handle the convergence of their strategies and working to expand bilateral regional cooperation as the two countries have respectively rolled out their development strategies such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Yangtze Economic Belt Initiative, as well as Russia’s national revitalization and regional development plans.

Cheboksary, capital of the Chuvash Republic, a federal subject of Russia, with a population of fewer than 500,000, located at the right bank of the Volga River’s middle reaches. Hustle and bustle was brought to the city these days after the arrival of a Chinese delegation comprising of over a hundred representatives.

The Chinese delegation was in Cheboksary for the third meeting of the Council of Cooperation between the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River and the Volga Federal District (Yangtze-Volga) that kicked off on May 23.

Representatives from relevant Chinese ministries, deputies from six Chinese provinces and municipality including Chongqing, Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan, Anhui and Jiangxi, as well as presidents of 32 Chinese universities joined their counterparts in 14 subjects along the Volga Federal District of Russia to renew friendship and discuss future cooperation and development.

The above-mentioned 6 Chinese provinces and municipality, all located at the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River, enjoy rapid economic development, abundant capital, and huge market potential.

Similarly, the 14 federal subjects of the 1.038 million-square kilometer Volga Federal District along the Volga River, are also very competitive in Russia.

A historical opportunity of cooperation between the two regions was created in May 2013 when China and Russia inked the Protocol on Cooperation between the Upper and Middle Reaches of the Yangtze River and the Volga Federal District, an agreement boosting Yangtze-Volga cooperation at national level.

Over the past six years, Yangtze-Volga cooperation has witnessed improvement both in scale and quality.

According to the Council of Yangtze-Volga Cooperation, the trade volume of the above-mentioned Chinese provinces and municipality with Russia stood at nearly $4.9 billion in 2018 alone, up 30 percent. The speed outran the growth of the general trade between the two countries. Some provinces even witnessed growths of over 80 percent.

At the meeting, both parties gave credit to the role of the cooperation mechanism in promoting exchanges between the two regions, noting it serves as a successful example for China-Russia regional cooperation.

They hope the two countries to start anew from this mechanism, and guide bilateral regional cooperation onto a track of faster speed and higher quality.

Thanks to the accelerated regional cooperation and improved business environment, more and more enterprises from the six Chinese provinces and municipality are investing along the Volga River.

A wood processing plant in Perm invested by Jiangxi Province was successfully put into operation, marking the first major investment project implemented in the two regions. A glass fiber production line in the Republic of Tatarstan with investment from Chongqing, and a cement plant in Ulyanovsk invested by Anhui, are also under construction as scheduled.

At present, China-Russia regional cooperation enjoys strong momentum. According to Igor Komarov, Russia’s Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Volga Federal District, the district is working on over 20 draft agreements, hoping to continue cooperation with China in economy and trade.

Many Chinese grew up listening to the Russian song of Moscow Nights and reading the novel How the Steel Was Tempered, said Li Yanrong, Chinese Chair of the Yangtze-Volga University Alliance and President of Sichuan University, explaining the special and close bond between China and Russia.

The Yangtze-Volga regions boast solid educational foundation and rich cultures. There are 1.5 million students in the two regions.

In June 2017, under the approval of the Chinese and Russian foreign ministries, the Yangtze-Volga University Alliance was jointly initiated by China’s Sichuan University and Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod State Technical University. The alliance has been joined by 32 Chinese universities and 50 Russian universities.

A series of cooperation in education, science and technology, and culture to promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges have been conducted by the alliance in the past two years, such as a college student video contest to promote cultural communication which was attended by 32 universities from both sides, as well as the establishment of a China-Russia university think tank alliance and the launch of its first forum.

The 14 federal subjects of Russia reached a deal with Hun to send their undergraduates therefor study. Besides, Sichuan universities also signed 23 cooperation agreements with 17 universities in the Volga Federal District on international courses and the exchange of students and teachers.

Both China and Russia hope that the university alliance can become a high-end think tank that promotes bilateral relations and the cooperation between the two regions, and become an open international platform that gathers innovative and advantageous resources.

The two sides also vowed to build the alliance into a cradle for training and developing high-end talents and a hub for young entrepreneurs from both countries.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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