Russia, China Ink Friendship Pact in Moscow

By Kralev, Nicholas | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 17, 2001 | Go to article overview
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Russia, China Ink Friendship Pact in Moscow

Kralev, Nicholas, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)

Byline: Nicholas Kralev

The leaders of Russia and China yesterday signed their first friendship treaty in 50 years and reaffirmed support for the ABM Treaty to curb U.S. missile-defense plans.

The treaty, signed yesterday by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin, affirmed the strategic friendship and cooperation between Moscow and Beijing, bitter rivals for influence in the communist world during the Cold War.

"We believe that more active cooperation between our countries in discussing missile defenses and disarmament will enhance our efforts in building a multipolar world and establishing a fair, rational international order," Mr. Jiang said, referring to the dominant role of the United States in global affairs.

Calling the document "historic," Mr. Putin, said: " . . . we presume this document will form the basis for stability in international relations as a whole."

The treaty, which replaces an outdated 1950 version signed by Josef Stalin and Mao Tse-tung that failed to prevent a 1969 border war, commits the signatories to "mutual efforts to support global strategic balance and stability."

The United States yesterday downplayed the effect of a new treaty on Washington's global role and said it didn't see the pact as "any particular threat to us or to our plans."

Reiterating U.S. determination to go ahead with its plans, the State Department said the Russia-China pact would not change the strategic balance of power, because it was not a defense alliance between the two countries.

"We've never felt that this was a zero-sum game," said Richard Boucher, State Department spokesman. "We've felt that it's important for us to have good relations with Russia and with China, and we've always felt it's important for them to have good relations with each other. They have a long border in a key region, and it's important for them to get along. So we don't see it as any particular threat to us or to our plans."

Although they said the document was not aimed at a third party, Mr. Putin and Mr. Jiang reaffirmed their faith in the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) as the cornerstone of international stability. The Bush administration has said the treaty, which is the only hurdle to building a missile-defense shield, should be scrapped or substantially amended.

In Moscow, where Mr. Jiang is on a four-day visit, the two leaders said the Good Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation would help safeguard peace.

The Russia-China summit followed a successful test of the U.S. anti-missile system, which was condemned in both capitals, as well as Beijing's victory in the bid for hosting the 2008 summer Olympic Games on Friday. Mr. Putin flies to Genoa, Italy, later this week for the annual gathering of the world's leading economies and Russia, where missile defense is certain to be high on the agenda.

Both Moscow and Beijing denounced the U.S. missile test, with Russia asking, "why should we lead things to a point where we threaten the whole architecture in the field of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, at the heart of which lies" the ABM agreement.

China's Foreign Ministry said, "It is not favorable to global strategic balance and stability."

In the new treaty, Russia reiterated its support for the Chinese claim on Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province. "Russia acknowledges that there is only one China, the government of the People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all of China, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China," the document said. "Russia opposes any kind of independence for Taiwan."

Mr. Putin and Mr. Jiang also pledged to resolve two small remaining border disputes and to boost trade. Although China has bought billions of dollars worth of Russian jets, submarines, missiles and destroyers, Moscow's trade with Beijing is still far short of China's annual trade with Japan or the United States.

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