IRKUTSK - Russian and Chinese officials appear on the verge of scrapping a regional trade agreement that was once hailed as a boon to both commerce and good neighborly relations.
The agreement, signed in 2009, was supposed to attract Chinese investment to eastern Russia, and was meant as a model for Russias increased cooperation with its East Asian neighbors. But the pact, which had not been living up to expectations, may now be rescinded after a dispute erupted at an economic forum that ended Tuesday in the Siberian city of Irkutsk.
While acknowledging that some of its own slated projects had been poorly planned, Russian leaders complained that China was not committed to economically investing in its western neighbor. Russian officials claimed that China commits eight times less investment in Russia than in Africa. Chinese officials responded by saying that the investment climate was simply better in China than Russia.
The two countries apparently signed on to the agreement with very different expectations. The Russians hoped to develop a high-tech industry in the eastern reaches of their country, with help from Chinese investment; while the Chinese see their cooperation with Russia as an opportunity to extract raw materials for their transportation industry.
The two sides traded insults during the meeting in Irkutsk, each one blaming the other for unfulfilled promises. Regardless of whos to blame, the regional partnership is clearly not working for either county, and will likely be a point of discussion during Russian President Dmitry Medvedevs visit next month to Shanghai.
Read the original article in full in Russian by Alexander Gabuev
Photo - KimonBerlin