Russia, China Find A Cause against West Feeling Left out, Two Giants Repair Ties during Chinese President's Visit This Week

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Russia and China launched a rhetorical salvo here Tuesday against American dominance of the post-cold-war world, as officials said that Moscow and Beijing planned to work more closely to counterbalance Washington's global influence.

Presidents Boris Yeltsin of Russia and visiting Jiang Zemin of China signed a "Joint Declaration on the Multipolar World and a New World Order."

"No country should claim hegemony for itself or pursue policy from positions of strength and monopolize international affairs," the declaration read in a clear reference to the United States. "This does not mean that we will confront the United States in every instance," explains senior Foreign Ministry official Vladimir Rakhmanin. "But the purpose is to even out relations in the international arena." The declaration, which Mr. Yeltsin called "of historic importance," signals a further strengthening of the "strategic partnership" between the two Asian giants, who have had frosty diplomatic ties for the past three decades. The warmth of Mr. Zemin's welcome contrasts starkly with past decades of hostility between Beijing and Moscow, when each vied for leadership of the Communist world. The new mood is especially notable in the context of Moscow's currently strained relations with the West over NATO's plans to expand eastward up to Russia's border. "The spirit of {Jiang's} visit is in sharp contrast to the tendencies emerging in the West," the Itar-Tass news agency quoted Russia's ambassador to Beijing, Igor Rogachev, as saying. Some analysts here see a direct link. "The contradictions between Russia and the West, and China and the West are growing stronger, so naturally the peripheral countries seek a way out through a union among themselves," suggests Alexander Yakovlev of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies in Moscow. "It has become clear that Russia will never be an equal partner for the West, so we should look for other allies," he adds. Other observers - including Russian diplomats - insist that Moscow's growing ties with Beijing are merely evidence of more balance in Russian foreign policy. "This is a very important visit to balance our foreign policy" which until recently had been heavily oriented toward the West, says Vladimir Averchev, a member of the Duma (lower house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee. "Russia is a multiregional power, and it is in our interests to have stable and preferably friendly relations with the major players in all the regions where we are involved. …

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