While President Donald Trump is gambling that the US can get the better of China in a trade war, Putin is making deals with Beijing. Russia is cooperating enthusiastically with the Chinese-led "One Belt, One Road" initiative, which seeks to turn Eurasia into the central hub of world trade. The more trade is concentrated on the Eurasian super-continent, the weaker the US becomes, as its power is based on control of critical sea-lanes.
- Hello, Dmitry Sergeevich!
Dmitry Peskov, Russian President's Spokesman:
- Dmitry Sergeevich, it's been the most interesting trip with a very tight schedule. I've got the impression that neither timezones nor time differences exist for Putin. Because it's one meeting right after another. How does the president manage to prepare himself for each of the meetings, taking into account their density and the significance of the people he meets with?
- You're right, this week we're extremely pressed for time and we're covering extreme distances. Of course, it requires massive preparation. The president never, as it's accustomed, never commences any event without prior preparation and without mastering every detail in all of the nuances. He normally uses the time on the road, the time on the plane, as he can make telephone calls to the heads of the agencies and services, right on the plane if need be, in order to clarify something. So, in general, he uses time on the road to prepare himself for the following day. It's a normal, usual practice for him.
- A great number of meetings with the heads of foreign states. How is it beneficial for Russia's economy? How is it beneficial for the speeding up of the growth of Russia's economy in general?
- Well, as a matter of fact, anything the president of Russia does during his international contacts is more or less dictated by the needs of economic and social growth of the Russian Federation. This is definitely an absolute priority of the head of the state. Any meetings, including those taking place here, start, if you have noticed, with the word by the president on commodity trade, trade commodity revenue with those countries. Because this is exactly one of the main markers of the quality and efficiency of our relations. To give credit, we should mention that, now, the trade with an absolute majority of countries has been rising quite steadily compared to the period of 2014 to 2016. At that, it's happening not only due to the favorable conditions, or rather, to put it simply, it's not only due to the oil and gas price increase. No, it's growth in quality, since both our export and investment activity composition has become much wider. And it's not connected only to crude resources. Well, that's why each of his contacts is directly useful for our economy. It can be the protection of the interests of our companies, be it state-owned companies, be it quasi state-own companies, or private ones. They're actively working abroad. And, despite a sometimes uncomfortable economic environment, international environment, anyway, they have plans for international expansions to international markets in a good sense of this word.
- Dmitry Sergeevich, as for the "One Belt, One Road", the Chinese take this mega-project very seriously, which is, by the look of things, planned for decades to come, if not for a century. What is our role? Does our role amount to being devoured in passing, due to our proximity, by the de-facto second largest economy in the world? Or will we be able to develop, to benefit from it, instead of becoming an appendix to someone else's plan?
- Nothing but the latter. As you know, the president focuses in every way on the necessity of coordination of our own integration process, I mean the Eurasian Economic Community, with the "One Belt, One Road" project. Nothing but the coordination. "One Belt, One Road" is a really powerful project, it's planned for many years to come, as the Chinese in general, as you know, think in terms of centuries. They never plan for 1-2 years ahead. And, of course, the crossing of the interests of our integration with the Chinese project, at the points where it presents mutual interest, I mean, where it's profitable for both us and our Chinese partners, this is the very space where the interaction can and will be established. Besides, why not gain benefits for ourselves from the implementation of this mega project? I mean the implementation of major projects for infrastructure, transportation, establishing connections, logistics, and communication. All of this may give us certain dividends, and, of course, it would be unwise to decline. Even more than that, it would be unwise not to try harmonizing those dividends with, let me repeat it, with the interest of the integration process in the framework of the Eurasian Economic Community.
- Our Chinese comrades are actively and in a friendly way demonstrating their good attitude to Russia in general, and the good relations between Chairman Xi Jinping and President Putin in particular. Our relationship couldn't be called anything but "friendly." And Xi Jinping regularly emphasizes his warm attitude. At the same time, yes, the mutual commodity trade is growing, it's said to be even higher than planned. Meanwhile, our Chinese comrades continue, as far as I understand, to observe the American sanctions. On the one hand, they're saying, "Yes, yes, we're ready." But still, words continue to prevail over real actions. How well do we understand the Chinese and their intentions? When will we see an entirely different stage of Russian-Chinese interaction, where the American sanctions no longer play the determining role and the role of a corridor?
- You see, once again here we should arm ourselves with patience. First of all, we should remember that our Chinese partners haven't joined the sanctions as such, so-called sanctions, the proper word here is "restrictions", illegal ones at that, according to international law. It's true, many of the Chinese banks and economic structures are forced to respect the restrictions used by the Americans and other countries. Because, in any case, we live in the century of an interdependent economy. That's why, of course, our Chinese partners often show cautiousness. It doesn't mean, however, that they support these sanctions. In this respect, we just need to give time for the flywheel to start rotating at full speed. Let's remember that just 10 years ago, we could hardly think of the commodity trade between the two countries amounting to $100 billion. All the more so that we planned $100 billion and we achieved around $107 billion, as the president said, if I'm not mistaken. I believe that it must be a sure sign that flywheel is starting to rotate, and that the progressive development of the trade, economic and investment cooperation is giving its fruits. Despite that the world's economy is now, I think, excessively infected by those unilateral restrictions, which are used for mercantile purposes and are aimed at securing privileges for their own economy by methods that are illegal according to international law, according to the norms of international law. President Trump said that in the first quarter of the current year the American economy grew by 3.2%. It's very rapid growth, this is an enormous amount of growth. But let's admit eventually that this growth became possible only thanks to such point-blank protectionism, as well as to quite crude protection of the USA's rights at the expense of other countries. Both Chairman Xi Jinping and President Putin spoke up about the unacceptability of such sanction aspirations.
- Dmitry Sergeevich, as for me, I like 3.2%, and I like even more the 6% in China, I just want to understand when we will catch up with China's rate of economic growth. You're in China now, and you see that the country is changing as we speak. Are we going to adopt a number of Chinese methods for boosting our economy? We're used to looking up to the West concerning economic policy. Doesn’t it make sense to have a look at the East?
- You know, it's more up to our economists, to look for methods used in other countries that can be applied here. But, of course, everyone should be very cautious in this field. The methods that work in China won't necessarily work in the Russian Federation. As we've been discussing just now, the Chinese think in a really long-term perspective. We don't have this time. Our president has set concrete goals for a very short time period. Within just several years, we should reach rates of growth that are higher than the average rates worldwide. That's what we're now working on. Moreover, the plans have been designed already, the formats have been chosen, and now we're actively implementing the plans that we've created. That's why, of course, 6% is an unattainable goal, as we have an economy with a different structure, but, as a matter of fact, outrunning the average global rates is something we're about to do in several years to come.
- Judging by our foreign policy, it seems that we have reached a deep mutual understanding with China for the first time in many years. And, of course, there is the Venezuela issue. It's clear that it makes the Americans worry very much. Have the situations in Syria, Venezuela, and Libya been discussed with President Xi or other heads of states? Is there some clear understanding of the changing geopolitical picture of the world?
- As for Venezuela, both leaders, China's and ours, have emphasized an absolute unacceptability of anyone's attempts to overthrow the government in a third country. Attempts to apply force and illegal international pressure to a sovereign country in order to change the government there. Both leaders emphasized that those nations should determine their future and their political government on their own. Russia's and China's positions concerning both Syria and Libya are similar in many ways. We share the same values. Those values are connected to a unified approach to the creation of a multipolar world, which is free from anyone's hegemonic aspirations and based on mutual respect, mutual trust, as well as on the readiness to account for each other's interests. This is the atmosphere we have in the relationship between Russia and China.
- Dmitry Sergeevich, what is Kim Jong-un like? Because, I think, he's an enigmatic person for the entire world. His every word, his every move causes a storm of discussion. He's treated like an alien, if you will, because North Korea is so closed-off and we know so little. What impression did he give you?
- You know, most of the negotiations were conducted in a one-on-one format with President Putin. But there was an extended part which gave an opportunity to discuss concrete cooperation projects, as, in the end, we have a border with North Korea. In this case, when we deal with North Korea we act within our own region. But when the Americans deal with North Korea, they act within our region, not theirs. We need to take that into account. But, in that extended format, to be honest, the North Korean leader showed himself as a very professional and competent head of state. Although, by the way, he isn't the head of state de jure, yet he is de facto. He's aware of all the nuances of the bilateral projects, or potential bilateral projects, which can go into effect quite rapidly, as soon as the UN's sanctions are lifted, along with other restrictions, which, unfortunately, are in place today and hinder our bilateral cooperation to a large extent. Kim Jong-un knows the details. He's very quick to react, he's well-informed about everything. He has his own position. That's why he strikes me as a quite experienced, well-educated, and very balanced leader.
- Dmitry Sergeevich, at last, one not-good question. Because it concerns secrets. Taking into account…
- ...how many different leaders Vladimir Putin has met, how many pages did Putin have to read before meeting each one of them and what teams of experts should travel together with Putin to give answers to all of the questions? I mean, how numerous was our delegation?
- Do you mean the delegation for meeting with the North Korean leader?
- For all of the meetings, both in China and in North Korea.
- I'm just going to give you a list. At the meeting in Chita, there were, naturally, the Minister of Emergency Response, the Minister of Healthcare, the Minister for Development of the Russian Far East, the Presidential Envoy, heads of municipal entities. Furthermore, in Vladivostok, there were, again, the Presidential Envoy, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, there were presidential aides from the administration, the Minister of Transportation, heads of companies, the head of Russian Railways, the head of the Rosatom. It means that there were all of the people who may be connected to the projects on the agenda. Further on, in Beijing, we were joined by Minister for Economic Development Oreshkin, at the same time, First Deputy Prime Minister for Economics Siluanov, the ministers, heads of companies: both Miller and Sechin, as well as the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Dmitriev. All of those who are actively operating in the Chinese market. As a matter of fact, this is the expert potential in question. Before the trip, I'll tell you, the text materials for one conversation, if we take print-out pages, it's from 5 to 10 pages. That's just for one conversation. If you remember the marathon we had on the first day of our visit to China, there were five or six meetings, so you can do the math yourself, it's from around 30 to 100 pages of material that the president reads. Moreover, there are separate references sometimes; on people, on the topics of cooperation, and projects. That's why it's an enormous mass of information, and you need certain skill and talent to handle this amount of information. By the way, the president is brilliant at that.
- Thank you very much, Dmitry Sergeevich! We're looking forward to you returning back home.
- Good day to you!
- Good day!