Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country and China will work together to shape global security even if other powers don't approve.
Medvedev, speaking on the last day of a visit to China on his first foreign trip as president, said that the two neighbors have become "a major factor of global security without which the main decisions in international cooperation are impossible."
"I will say frankly that not everyone likes the strategic cooperation between our two nations but we understand that it's in the interests of our people and we'll strengthen it whether others like it or not," he told students at Beijing University today.
Medvedev's decision to visit Beijing on his inaugural foreign tour after becoming head of state on May 7 underscores China's value to Russian foreign policy as a counter-balance to the influence of the U.S. and western Europe. It also reflects China's growing importance to Russia economically, with bilateral trade estimated to rise to $80 billion by 2010.
The Russian president and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, denounced U.S. plans to deploy a missile-defense system in eastern Europe, as the two leaders forged closer ties on trade and energy during talks yesterday.
Russian leaders have been critical of U.S. plans to deploy parts of a missile-defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, both former Soviet satellite states, saying the system would target Russia.
Medvedev, in an interview with Chinese journalists broadcast on Russian state television May 22, warned that Russia will take "appropriate" measures in response to the U.S. missile-defense deployment.
Conflict With West
Russia, which is also in conflict with the West over the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into its former Soviet backyard, has threatened to target its nuclear weapons at the U.S. missile-defense sites.
U.S. officials say the system aims to counter a threat posed by "rogue" states such as Iran, and isn't aimed at Russia.
Medvedev said that Russia and China would step up their cooperation at the United Nations Security Council, where both are veto-wielding permanent members. Earlier this year the threat of a Russian and Chinese veto led Western powers to opt for unilateral recognition of Kosovo, whose secession from Serbia has been denied international legitimacy.
The two countries will also strengthen ties, including in the energy sphere, through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security group led by Russia and China, Medvedev said.
Influence in Central Asia
The SCO, set up with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in 2001 to strengthen regional cooperation and combat terrorism, has become a forum for Russia and China to counter U.S. influence in energy-rich Central Asia. Its decision in 2005 to admit Iran as an observer sparked concern in the U.S.
Medvedev yesterday stressed the hope that Russia and China will diversify their trade and cooperation into high technology, aircraft building, nuclear energy, space and information technology.
Trade between Russia, the world's biggest energy exporter, and China, the fastest-growing major economy, grew almost fivefold to $48 billion during former Russian President Vladimir Putin's eight-year tenure. Putin is now prime minister.