Medvedev to push modernization, energy goals on China visit
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will travel to China on Sunday to expand economic ties with the world's largest energy consumer and try to engage Beijing in a range of business and trade projects.
With a large business delegation in tow, Medvedev will travel to China at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao, his second trip to the country since assuming office in 2008.
The packed agenda of his three-day trip will include visits to Beijing and Shanghai and a visit to Dalian, a port in northeast China which was under Russian control at the turn of the 20th century.
Relations between Moscow and Beijing -- once bitter foes during the Cold War -- have a turbulent history.
The two nations position themselves as counterweights to US global dominance and the Kremlin likes to call its ties with Beijing a "strategic partnership." But Moscow has been watching China's formidable economic might with a mixture of awe and uneasiness.
A key sticking point in ties is that Russian energy supplies still account for the bulk of economic cooperation, analysts say.
The Kremlin, on a mission to modernize Russia's hydrocarbon-dependent economy, wants more Chinese investments and know-how, while Beijing is in no rush to commit, they say.
"Russia has been increasing its energy and materials supply but China bought little else," said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at UralSib investment bank.
"Medvedev will undoubtedly push for Chinese support for his modernization programme and will try to get a commitment from the government to encourage its major corporations to increase investment in the Russian economy and especially outside of extractive industries."
Russia and China jointly run only three industrial parks, said Sergei Luzyanin, deputy director of the Far East Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
"That's a drop in the ocean, of course. It's clear that you need hundreds of them."
"Russia, of course, is trying to entice large investment capital but it is not coming so far."
Energy is also expected to be a major focus of the talks.
Russia is keen to diversify its energy supplies and has been in talks with China, the world's largest energy consumer, over gas supplies.
With pricing remaining a major issue, those talks have dragged on for several years and Russia's powerful prime minister Vladimir Putin travelled to Beijing last October to try to push the talks forward.
Russia's energy czar and Putin's deputy, Igor Sechin, travelled to China earlier this month to lay the groundwork for Medvedev's trip.
During Sechin's visit, Russia and China announced plans to jointly build a 5-billion-dollar oil refinery in the port city of Tianjin and a network of at least 500 petrol stations in the country.
After talks with top officials in Beijing, Medvedev will travel to Shanghai for Russia Day at World Expo, said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu.
The Kremlin chief will kick off his China trip with a visit to Dalian, where he will visit a memorial to Soviet Union war dead.
Known in Russian as "Dalny" (remote), Dalian came under Moscow's control at the turn of the century and was the scene of a major clash between Russian and Japanese forces in the 1904-05 war known as the battle of Port Arthur.
Medvedev will visit the city at a time when China is entangled in a bitter dispute with Japan. Some analysts have said Beijing may try to secure Russia's support in the diplomatic conflict.
In the latest development in what has been the worst diplomatic row in years between the Asian giants, Japan said Friday it would free a Chinese fishing boat captain arrested in the disputed waters over two weeks ago.
"The Chinese might want to try and get the Russians in their corner on the issue of the Senkaku (islands)" known as the Daioyu islands by China, said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, political science professor at Hong Kong Baptist University.
© 2010 AFP