Russia, China Team Up to Assail U.S. Foreign Policy

Former rivals have been expanding cooperation and plan joint military drills. Washington seeks 'domination' of world affairs, they suggest.

By David Holley

Los Angeles Times

July 2, 2005

MOSCOW — Teaming up in a thinly veiled attack on perceived U.S. efforts to dominate the world, Russia and China on Friday issued a declaration demanding respect for the right of all countries to develop free of outside interference.

Signed by Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao on the second day of a summit here, the statement denounces "the aspiration for monopoly and domination in international affairs" and calls for an end to "attempts to divide nations into leaders and those being led."

While not mentioning the United States directly, the Declaration on World Order in the 21st Century leaves no doubt that Washington is its main target.

Russian-Chinese ties have been steadily warming, boosted by the signing last year and ratification this spring of the final settlement of a prolonged border dispute. The two countries plan to hold their first joint military maneuvers this year in China.

Putin and Hu offered each other support in Moscow's war against separatist rebels in the republic of Chechnya and Beijing's effort to assert control over Taiwan, which it considers a renegade province.

"Any actions aimed at splitting sovereign states and kindling ethnic discord are inadmissible," the statement says.

"The declaration reflects similar approaches by Russia and China to fundamental world policy issues," Putin told reporters after the signing ceremony. "We understand well the importance of good-neighborly relations based on partnership between Russia and China, both for our own peoples and for the entire world."

Hu told reporters that the two sides had discussed cooperation concerning Taiwan and Chechnya, promotion of stability in Central Asia, reform of the United Nations and "the nuclear problem of the Korean peninsula."

The declaration shows that Moscow and Beijing "don't quite believe the sincerity of the second Bush administration's attempts to break its image of being a proponent of unilateral actions and decisions," said Andrei Kortunov, president of the New Eurasia Foundation in Moscow.

"It is confirmation that Washington's attempts to somehow draw various countries into cooperation on a whole number of issues doesn't seem very convincing to China and Russia," Kortunov said.

"This may be connected with the unilateral actions of Washington in the Middle East, its latest decisions on increasing its defense budget and some others."

The declaration endorses a stronger United Nations role in global affairs and rejects attempts "to impose models of social and political development from outside."

The accord also prominently recycles language that China has pushed in international agreements for decades: "All countries of the world should strictly observe the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual nonaggression, noninterference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence."

Vasily Mikheyev, deputy director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the declaration was "to some extent counterproductive because it is composed in an old diplomatic style, in the spirit of the Cold War. That is, the declaration is full of cliches from Cold War times."

He added: "The language of this declaration has very little to do with the diplomacy of globalization. It is neither in Russian nor in Chinese interests to spoil relations with the United States. That is why no country is named by name in the declaration, which makes it sound even more like a bureaucratic Cold War document."

The two sides also signed economic agreements Friday, including one between the Russian oil company Rosneft and China National Petroleum Corp. that paves the way for increased Russian oil exports to China. Rosneft announced in a news release that the firms would begin discussing cooperation in exploring and developing oil and gas fields on Sakhalin Island, off Russia's east coast.

Other agreements involve cooperation in electric power and banking.

Trade between Russia and China jumped by one-third in 2004, to $21 billion, and has continued to expand rapidly this year, Putin told reporters.

"There are promising projects in such sectors as metallurgy, the modernization of transport infrastructure, inter-bank ties and space exploration," Putin said. "We intend to develop military-technical ties and cooperation between defense ministries."