looks east, but thinks
. (RIA Novosti political commentator Alexander Yurov.)
Russian presidentís visit to
took place at a good time. Russian-Chinese trade rose to $30 billion in 2005,
up nearly 40% on 2004.
is maintaining a positive trade balance, with exports at $15.9 billion and
imports at more than $13 billion.
ís second largest foreign trade partner after
talks between the Russian and Chinese leaders have shown that this new trend is
only the beginning. One of the highlights of Vladimir Putinís visit was the
signing of a protocol on gas deliveries to
. The document was signed by Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and Chen Geng, president
of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).
document stipulates that Siberian gas will be delivered not only to Europe, but
beginning in 2011. Initially,
will supply up to 80 billion cu m annually. In 2005, Gazprom produced 547.2
billion cu m of gas and exported 151 billion.
the numbers, the agreement was not considered sensational.
have been talking about oil and gas cooperation for 10 years. Analysts
predicted in the mid-1990s that
would become the biggest importer of Russian gas by 2010.
is not clear where
would get so much gas and who would pay for the construction of pipelines from
to Chinese consumers. Gazprom has calculated that the construction of a 3,000km
pipeline across Altai would cost $5 billion. But the Russian gas giant also has
other obligations. It plans to invest about $6 billion into the North European
Gas Pipeline (NEGP), of a similar length, which is to link northern
. The NEGP is to be commissioned at about the same time, between 2010-2020.
appears that Russian authorities are not paying much attention to these
expenses. Putin said confidently that gas would be delivered to
via two routes, one across Altai to the western provinces and another to
to head to the eastern regions of
. The pipelines will have a comparable throughput capacity of up to 40 billion
cu m a year, supplying
with enough hydrocarbons and spurring
ís economic progress. Experts said high prices would enable Gazprom to
accumulate about $30 billion in five years. This means that by 2010, not only
Europe but also
would depend on Russian gas.
recent talks in
marked another stage in the promotion of closer economic and cultural relations
between the two countries. The Russian president was accompanied on his trip by
a big delegation of Russian businessmen. They discussed many spheres of
cooperation with their Chinese counterparts, notably the mutual production of
polymetallic ores in the Transbaikal region. Vladimir Putin also unveiled the
Year of Russia in
, which means that scientists and cultural figures will be next in line for a