Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov believes that the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership in the economy is a fait accompli. He said this when answering the questions put by the Chinese newspaper Remin Ribao and RIA Novosti shortly before his visit to the People's Republic of China.
Kasyanov pointed out that the seventh regular meeting between the Russian and Chinese heads of government will be held in conditions of an upsurge of economic cooperation between the two countries.
The trade turnover is being increased for the third year running. In 2001 it reached a record figure of 10.7 billion dollars. In the first six months of this year its increment amounted to about 20 percent, and the trade volume reached 5.5 billion dollars.
"This gives us ground to believe that on the results of the year the trade turnover will reach a new record level", the premier pointed out.
According to him, major Russian companies have stirred up their activity in the Chinese direction. He pointed to the project of building the Russia-China oil pipeline, the participation of Gazprom in the project of creating the TransChinese Tarim-Shanghai gas pipeline, and the development of cooperation in the aluminium industry.
Kasyanov pointed out that major Chinese companies have increased of late their interest in the development of ties with Russia. According to him, the point at issue is the deliveries of goods, investments in such branches of the Russian industry as communication and telecommunications, the woods sphere, the extraction of minerals and the development of scientific-technical cooperation.
According to Kasyanov, in the course of the forthcoming negotiations with premier Zhu Rungji they will try to create stable and predictable conditions for the long-term development of cooperation.
The Russian prime minister plans to make a number of specific proposals connected with the realisation of promising projects. This includes deliveries of Russian planes and helicopters, cooperation in motor-car construction -- creation of joint production of cars and trucks, and the development of collaboration in power engineering.
Kasyanov believes that the absence of full information on the potential partners and legislation of the two countries is hampering the development of bilateral trade and economic cooperation. To solve this problem it is necessary to use all means -- from specialized publications to the system of electronic data transmission, he said.
Another important issue, according to the prime minister, is the system of mutual accounts between partners. Most commercial accounts are being settled through the banks of third countries, which complicates and raises the price of the deliveries made, he said. Active joint work is needed to establish direct ties between the banks of the two countries.
The transportation infrastructure is also insufficiently developed, and the passes on the Russian-Chinese border not always function effectively.
"The solution of these and other problems as soon as possible will promote the further growth of bilateral cooperation, whose potential we estimate as high enough," Kasyanov stressed.
Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta's posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he 'had something urgent to tell me', after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.