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Asia Minute: China and Russia Want To Double Trade

Pavel Golovkin, AP/Pool
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang shake hands during their meeting in Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.

The ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China continues to generate stories around the world. But another aspect of China’s trade is getting much less coverage. 

China and Russia plan to double their two-way trade within five years — to more than $200 billion.

That word comes this week as the Chinese premier wraps up a three-day visit to Moscow.

The two countries plan to increase cooperation in fields from energy to agriculture — although details still need to be developed.

Right now, energy dominates the trade relationship, making up more than 70 percent of trade, according to Russian government figures.

China has already been Russia’s top trade partner for the past nine years but China’s official Xinhua news agency says volumes will increase — along with cooperation in areas such as space and nuclear energy.

Both countries mentioned soybeans as a specific product for increased shipment from Russia to China — a crop that traditionally is exported by the United States.

Trade is increasing and Russia remains China’s biggest supplier of oil, but the Moscow government is eager for increased Chinese direct investment — especially in the eastern part of Russia.

Military cooperation has also been quietly increasing in recent years.

China has sent more than 1,600 troops to take part in a Russian military exercise this week, along with aircraft, tanks and support equipment.

This summer, South Korean fighter jets scrambled to respond to Russian and Chinese bombers flying their first joint patrol over northeast Asia.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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