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Landmark gas deal with Russia may be set soon

Wang Xu
Updated: Aug 28,2015 7:35 AM     China Daily

Foreign soldiers practice at the parade training base in Beijing on Aug 26. They are from Venezuela. Nearly 1,000 foreign troops from 17 countries will participate in China’s military parade on Sept 3 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.[Photo/Xinhua]

A landmark gas deal between China and Russia that has been years in the making looks set to be finalized, as the countries prepare to mark the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II.

More than 20 agreements covering finance, transportation and energy cooperation will be signed when Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Tian’anmen parade on Sept 3, said Andrey Denisov, the Russian ambassador to China, during a news conference on Aug 28. He said Putin will arrive in Beijing on Sept 2.

Foreign soldiers practice at the parade training base in Beijing on Aug 26. They are from Cuba. Nearly 1,000 foreign troops from 17 countries will participate in China’s military parade on Sept 3 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.[Photo/Xinhua]

“The gas deal looks very likely to be confirmed at the final moment because of its large scale and importance due to international practices,” Denisov said, adding that he was sure that there will be an agreement but that the details won’t be disclosed until the last minute.

In May 2014, after 20 years of negotiations, China and Russia agreed to build a natural gas supply line, known as the “eastern route”, that is supposed to deliver 38 billion cubic meters of gas to Beijing and Northeast China annually, starting in 2018.

Chen Yurong, an expert with the China Institute of International Studies, said that the Russian ambassador might have been referring to the “western route”.

Negotiations on the western route, a 2,800-kilometer supply line to deliver 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually to China’s Xinjiang Ugyur autonomous region over 30 years, began in 2006.

Foreign soldiers practice at the parade training base in Beijing on Aug 26. They are from Russia. Nearly 1,000 foreign troops from 17 countries will participate in China’s military parade on Sept 3 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.[Photo/Xinhua]

Last year, China and Russia reached a framework agreement on the western route, Chen said. However, the ensuing negotiations were postponed due to a tremendous drop in the international oil price as well as China’s economic slowdown.

According to Chen, the western route framework agreement is not legally binding like that of the eastern route, so it has been postponed and is mired in differences over pricing, while construction of the “eastern route” has begun.

Chen added that it would be a good thing for China and Russia if the gas deal could be concluded. This is “because China and Russia are natural partners concerning energy cooperation, since they are neighbors and highly complementary”, Chen said.

Foreign soldiers practice at the parade training base in Beijing on Aug 26. They are from Pakistan. Nearly 1,000 foreign troops from 17 countries will participate in China’s military parade on Sept 3 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.[Photo/Xinhua]

It was also disclosed at the news conference on Aug 27 that China and Russia may establish more consulates in each other’s country.

Denisov said that Russian troops, who are already in China preparing for the victory parade, are looking forward to enjoying Chinese cuisine. He added that they hope to hear the same praise from the Chinese as China’s troops did in Moscow in May during the Red Square parade marking the Soviet Union’s victory in World World II.

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