Skip to main content
CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
powered by Yahoo!

Beijing courts Putin with defense links

By Willy Wo-Lap Lam
CNN Senior China Analyst

Putin, left, met with China's Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan in Moscow on November 23 and is paying a return vist to Beijing
Putin, left, met with China's Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan in Moscow on November 23 and is paying a return vist to Beijing

   Story Tools

more video VIDEO
CNN's Lisa Rose Weaver reports on China's interest in NATO and its intentions in Central Asia in the war on terrorism.
premium content
Interactive: China's provinces 
How much diplomatic influence does China have on global military and security affairs?

Big influence
None at all
Not much now, but wait 10 years

(CNN) -- Chinese President Jiang Zemin hopes talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin early next week will consolidate bilateral partnership in areas including fighting terrorism and defense cooperation.

Jiang is also anxious to resuscitate the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a key foreign policy initiative of the retiring president's 13-year tenure.

Beijing sources close to the diplomatic establishment said the talks had special meaning because Putin was the first major foreign leader to call on Beijing after the change of leadership in the wake of the 16th Communist Party Congress.

The state media on Wednesday quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan as saying Jiang and Putin would review Sino-Russian ties in the past ten years and "make strategic plans" for future development of bilateral relations.

"This is a very important visit," Kong said. "It will have a major impact on the development of future ties."

The spokesman added Putin would also have a separate meeting with Vice-President Hu Jintao, the newly elected party General Secretary and frontrunner to succeed Jiang as president in the spring.

The Beijing sources said Jiang and Putin would try to boost bilateral ties, particularly defense cooperation, under the umbrella of fighting international terrorism.

"The [Chinese] army's five-year plan (2001-2005) has made generous provision of funds for procuring Russian arms," said a Beijing-based Western diplomat.

"Cooperation including the co-production of weapons will be less sensitive when conducted under the banner of curbing global terrorism."

It is understood the People's Liberation Army, which has also undergone a leadership change, is looking at the latest Russian-made jet fighters and submarines as well as avionics and other electronics equipment.

The newly promoted Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission, General Cao Gangchuan, who is in charge of arms procurement, is a graduate of a Russian military academy.

Eye on NATO

At the same time, the Chinese are eager to strengthen joint anti-terrorist mechanisms under the SCO, which groups China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrzystan.

A meeting of SCO foreign ministers last week confirmed that the six nations should better coordinate efforts in fighting separatists, terrorists as well as hard-core criminals including drug traffickers.

However, a number of Chinese proposals including setting up a permanent SCO Secretariat in Beijing have yet to materialize.

Other topics that Putin will discuss with his hosts include the eastward expansion of NATO and the unstable situation in the Korean Peninsula.

Beijing has consistently taken a tougher line than Moscow on the need to contain NATO's growing clout -- and the SCO was initially conceived as a counterweight against NATO.

Story Tools

Top Stories
Iran poll to go to run-off
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards
© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.