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China is spearheading the 'one belt, one road' initiative to boost trade across Eurasia. The initiative will boost infrastructure development from the South China Sea to Italy, from Moscow to Kenya. Notably absent are the US and the EU, who will take a big hit the more goods are transported along the 'New Silk Road.'
We've just seen Vladimir Putin attend the Easter service at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. He arrived there straight after a many-hours-long flight from China, where he took part in the second One Belt, One Road international forum. It's a colossal large-scale infrastructure project being proposed by China to facilitate the shipment of goods across Eurasia.
Dozens of countries are taking part in the project; the road goes from Southeast Asia to Africa through Southern Europe. Here's one of the recent events: Italy joined the new Silk Road about a month ago. In general, every country involved in the Chinese project expects good profits and the development of its infrastructure. That's why this time, the leaders of 40 states arrived in China, including Serbia, Austria, Egypt, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, and many others.
Alexander Balitsky with the details from Beijing.
“Two sweeps of the hand and it becomes perfectly round.”
These buns are being prepared by the eighth generation of chefs at the oldest restaurant in Tianjin. That was Niu Xiujuan showing Vladimir Putin how to correctly wrap the meat filling during his previous Chinese visit. The footage of the leaders cooking serve better than any ad. Baozi, which is a cross between steamed buns and dumplings and has 18 traditional folds that form a mum flower, acquired a new Russian-style modification.
“Putin's Baozi made by six finger taps. Six symbolizes success.”
This time, Putin and Xi Jinping didn't take part in any culinary experiments. The President of China invited his Russian counterpart to a working breakfast at a Russian restaurant. They always find time for some informal communication regardless of the scale of the forum. That time, 37 state leaders gathered in Beijing. There were even more delegates. China's grand One Belt, One Road initiative can bring together almost 150 countries. The purpose of the initiative is similar to the idea behind the Eurasian Economic Union, which walks the same road as the Chinese Silk Road.
Mornings at this Chinese park traditionally begin with Tai Chi exercises with the same calm and somewhat cold-bloodedness as the Yellow Dragon. Beijing promotes the global project following the lessons of Chinese philosophers.
Xi Jinping, President of China: "China's ancient wisdom tells us that by enveloping rivers with all their streams, the sea becomes boundless and bottomless."
China drew its map of the logistical world back in 2013. The concept features a new intercontinental cargo delivery system by land and sea. The northern route goes through Central Asia and Russia to Europe. The central route covers China, Asia, the Persian Gulf, and the Mediterranean. The southern route covers Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean. That's why a month ago, Xi was touring across Europe. China already conquered the Greek Port of Piraeus and Italy's Genoa. Beijing is also considering Trieste. However, all these sea routes are at least two times longer than the one that runs through Russia and its Northern Sea Route.
Vladimir Putin: “We're considering the possibility of connecting the Northern Sea Route to the sea section of the Chinese Silk Road, thus creating a global and competitive route connecting Northeast, East, and Southeast Asia to Europe. Such a large-scale project implies close cooperation between the states of Eurasia in terms of increasing the number of transit shipments, building new sea terminals and logistics centers. We invite the states represented here to join the implementation process.”
Beijing is ready to spend more than $50 billion on the development of the Silk Road economy. China needs new outlets. Moscow is more interested in creating new transport infrastructure. That's 1 trillion rubles ($15 trillion) in investments, including and the BAM and the Trans-Siberian Railway. Putin brought Xi Jinping a poster showing the workers of the two countries connecting their lands with a railway. It reads "Moscow and Beijing are friends forever."
“Thank you, it's great.”
The gift exchange took place in a hotel with a symbolic name, Druzhba (Friendship). It was built in the mid-50s for the Soviet specialists who were helping to build socialist China. The form of socialism ended up being specific to China but today's ties are even stronger.
This is basically the symbol of Russian-Chinese relations, the legendary Yabaolu Street in Beijing, where in the early 90s thousands of businessmen from all over the former USSR established their own Silk Road. Almost every shop here has a sign in Russian. There are a lot of Russians in Beijing.
“There are a lot of Chinese in Moscow.”
There's a tea ceremony right on the counter. Volodya adopted a Russian name during the peak of trading in the 90s. Now, he has switched to tourists. Major trade has moved to digital platforms. Russian chocolate and ice cream on the shelves of Chinese shops no longer surprise anybody.
It's not a coincidence that when talking about the turnover growth, which has exceeded $100 billion, Putin gives a thumbs-up with both his hands. This year of Russian-Chinese relations has been called the Rich Harvest Year by the leaders. The two bridges over the Amur are almost complete. In December, the Power of Siberia pipeline will begin pumping gas to China. But Russia can give more.
Vladimir Putin: “We'll build new plants in the north of Russia: the Yamal LNG, and the Arctic LNG. We're also considering the expansion of the Sakhalin 2, which is a major gas liquefying project in the Russian Far East. We believe that all the major aforementioned oil and gas projects make a significant contribution to strengthening energy security on the entire continent of Eurasia.”
Energy and trade projects were also discussed at the bilateral meetings. The employees of the Diaoyutai residence barely managed to replace the flags. President of Azerbaijan Aliyev, President of Egypt El-Sisi, and President of Serbia Vucic. Here is the leader of Cyprus and the State Counselor of Myanmar. The multi-vector nature of Russian politics matches the new global economic model.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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