by our Asian Affairs correspondent
RUSSIA and People’s China have again stated their opposition to intervention or regime change in Syria, scotching renewed US-led imperialist attempts to get United Nation’s sanction for another Libyan-style Nato invasion.
China currently holds the UN Security Council’s rotating presidency, and Russia and China have long resisted imperialist pressure to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the pretext of ending the violence that Nato is inciting in the first place.
Russia, China and Cuba also voted against a US-sponsored motion tabled at the UN’s top human rights body last week that condemned Syria for its alleged massacre of civilians in the Houla region.
The motion was, predictably, carried by 41 of the 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council and it will almost certainly lead to further imperialist demands to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao called for the full implementation of the UN Annan Plan to end the violence in Syria during talks on the eve of the 12th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) conference that has brought the leaders of most of the major powers in Asia together for talks in Beijing.
And at the SCO conference in the Chinese capital, the leaderships of China and Russia gave an unequivocal “No” to bombing Iran, and another unambiguous “No” to regime change in Syria brought about through a western bombing campaign.
Afghanistan was also high on the agenda at the conference with the former Soviet Central Asian republics, stressing the future role of its members in helping to stabilise the country after most American troops pull-out at the end of 2014.
Putin’s talks revolved around developing a common Russian and Chinese stance in the international arena and developing economic relations.
Russian-Chinese trade is now at record levels. Last year it topped $84 billion and Putin says he wants to increase it to $100 billion in 2015 and $200 billion by 2020. Russia supplies raw materials and metals to China and imports technological products in return.
The Russians also supply China with warplanes, submarines, missiles, frigates, and other high-tech armaments. Putin also wants to expand co-operation in nuclear energy, aviation, high technology, banking and agriculture.
Both sides are exploring the possibility of jointly manufacturing long-range wide-bodied aircraft and heavy-lift helicopters, while continuing a cooperative programme on the aviation sector and starting programmes on other key technological sectors.
But energy was the focus of much of the economic talks between Putin’s delegation and the Chinese representatives. Russia is the world’s biggest oil producer and China is the world’s biggest consumer of energy and the Russians are eager to meet Chinese demand.
Russia sells electricity power to China and the Russia-China oil pipeline went on stream last year.
The pipeline, running between Siberia and the north-eastern Chinese city of Daqing, has already pumped 15 million metric tons to China, boosting Russian crude oil exports to its energy-hungry neighbour.
The Russian leader’s team included six cabinet ministers, the head of gas giant Gazprom and other energy companies and some 17 major business and trade deals are believed to have been initialled during the talks.Whether this will include a long-awaited gas agreement that would allow Moscow to supply some 70 billion cubic metres of gas to China remains unclear as both sides continue to haggle over the price of the contract.
The Russians want to link gas prices to that of oil, as it does in Europe, while China wants a lower price. If Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation can reach a deal, deliveries are expected to begin in 2015.