China and Russia have sharply condemned US missile defense plans, taking a harder common line that reinforces an already strong strategic partnership during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s first foreign trip in his new functions.
Pushing forward their robust energy cooperation, Russia also signed a US$1 billion deal to build a uranium enrichment facility in China on Friday and supply low-enriched uranium for use in China’s fast-growing nuclear power industry over the next decade.
Rivals throughout much of the Cold War, Moscow and Beijing have forged close political and military ties since the Soviet collapse, seeking to counter the perceived US global domination. They have spoken against the US missile defense plans in the past, but Friday’s declaration by Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) sounded tougher than before.
Without naming the US, the two leaders said that “the creation of global missile defense systems and their deployment in some regions of the world ... does not help to maintain strategic balance and stability and hampers international efforts in arms control and nuclear nonproliferation.”
They also warned against the deployment of arms in space in another clear reference to the US.
“The parties stand for the peaceful use of space and against the deployment of weapons in space and arms race in space,” Medvedev and Hu said in a statement released after an afternoon of talks.
The joint opposition appeared to raise the stakes for Washington, which has been trying to persuade Beijing and especially Moscow not to see the missile shields as threatening. At the same time, the cooperation on diplomatic issues masks deep Russian unease at China’s growing power and differences over military and energy sales.
The White House immediately said on Friday it was disappointed that Medvedev has not changed the firm opposition taken by his predecessor, former Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“We’re going to work with them to work through these concerns and we think we can resolve any concerns that anyone has about this and the true nature of the program,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.
The declaration also reflected China’s and Russia’s strong opposition to NATO’s expansion to incorporate former Soviet states Georgia and Ukraine.
“Security of nations can’t be ensured at the expense of other countries through the expansion of military-political alliances,” the two leaders said.
After a slow warming in the 1990s, Beijing and Moscow have in recent years joined in opposing Kovoso’s independence and on Iran’s nuclear crisis. The two have held joint military maneuvers and created a regional security grouping, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to keep the West out of energy-rich Central Asia.
Statements of cooperation come aside friction and uncertainties over energy, while the countries’ shifting economic and diplomatic fortunes also bedevil ties.
Medvedev’s stopover in Kazakhstan on his way to China was apparently intended to send a message to both Beijing and the West that Moscow continues to see the former Soviet Central Asia as its home turf.
Moscow and Beijing also have bickered over the price of Russian energy exports. Disagreements over pricing have slowed construction of an oil pipeline from Siberia and blocked plans for a natural gas pipeline.