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China, Russia embrace new opportunities for economic cooperation
【2017-07-04】

For online shoppers in Russia, the go-to website is neither Amazon nor a local e-commerce portal, but AliExpress, an e-commerce site run by China's Alibaba Group.

Over 22 million visitors logged onto the site in January 2017, making it the most popular e-commerce site in Russia, leaving local counterparts such as Ozon.ru and Eldorado.ru far behind, according to data from Russia's Association of Internet Trade Companies.

Boosted by faster cargo trains and more developed logistics systems, Chinese e-commerce companies have seen their sales skyrocketing in Russia in the past few years, contributing to an uptick in trade between the two countries.

China has been Russia's largest trading partner for six years and Russia is a major source for China to import energy and high-tech products.

In 2015, the global economic downturn and low energy prices dragged down trading volume between the two countries. The number quickly bounced back in 2016 with the help of e-commerce despite an overall slump in China's foreign trade.

According to China's General Administration of Customs, China-Russia trade grew 33.7 percent in the first five months this year to 223.1 billion yuan ($32.8 billion).

New opportunities for economic cooperation emerged not only from e-commerce. As the two countries both strive to achieve higher quality growth, their economic ties are also strengthening through deeper, broader, and more innovative cooperation.

"The focus of China-Russia economic and trade cooperation is shifting from sheer scale or speed to quality and profits," said Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui.

Some high-tech projects are already underway. The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China and United Aircraft Corporation of Russia have created a plan to develop a wide-body jet that will be able to make long-haul flights, potentially taking on dominant players such as Airbus and Boeing.

New growth points are also emerging in industries including agriculture as well as gas and oil equipment, according to Li.

"I believe the quality and quantity of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries will continue to rise," said Li.

Regional economic cooperation frameworks also provided the two countries with more opportunities to join hands.

The two countries have agreed to pair the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

The pairing of the Eurasian strategy with the Belt and Road Initiative will create new opportunities for transforming the Eurasian space into a convenient environment that facilitate exchanges of goods and simplify procedures for importers and exporters, Maxim Oreshkin, Russian Economic Development Minister, told Xinhua.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping embarks on his state visit to Russia Monday, new cooperation mechanisms as well as more agreements are expected.

During the two-day visit, Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks and meet with the press. The two leaders will map out the direction and goals for the development of bilateral ties, further deepen political mutual trust, and promote cooperation, according to Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Huilai.

It will be Xi's sixth tour to Russia since taking office, and will mark the third time the two heads of state have met this year, Li said.

The two sides will ink a series of cooperative documents on areas such as trade, economy, investment, connectivity, media, and education.

"I'm convinced that Xi's forthcoming visit to Russia will give an additional impetus to cooperation in various fields and will allow us to come closer to the goal of bringing mutual trade to $200 billion by 2020," said Oreshkin.