ST. PETERSBURG — Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia on June 17 to advance bilateral investment and financial cooperation as Chinese and Russian companies are to seal the contract on a high-speed railway in Russia.
During his stay in St. Petersburg, Zhang will also attend the 19th Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
Zhang is the third senior Chinese leader who visited Russia in just over one month, following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit in May and top Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang’s visit earlier this month.
Zhang’s visit is aimed to implement the consensus that Chinese President Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached during Xi’s visit to Moscow. The two presidents agreed to further expand cooperation in investment, finance and a number of other fields.
During his visit, Zhang will attend the second meeting of the China-Russia Investment Cooperation Committee along with his Russian counterpart, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov. The two sides will discuss how to fully utilize the investment cooperation mechanism to advance large-scale projects and further facilitate investment in the other country.
According to official statistics, China’s investment in Russia has been growing steadily over the past few years. Chinese direct investment in Russia, including those via third countries, totaled $33 billion by 2014.
A group of Chinese and Russian companies are expected to officially sign a contract this week on jointly conducting pre- construction survey and design of the Moscow-Kazan high-speed railway. The 770-kilometer railway is a key infrastructure development project for Russia. It is estimated to cost more than $ 20 billion. Upon completion in 2018, the rail link will dramatically reduce the travel time between Moscow and Kazan from 14 hours to three and half hours. It will become part of the planned Beijing-Moscow high-speed transport corridor.
Beside the high-speed railway, China and Russia are also working on such large-scale cooperation projects as cross-border natural gas pipelines, the development of large, wide-body airplanes and development strategy of the Far East region.
Both China and Russia have injected more and more financial resources to these cooperation projects. The central banks of the two countries signed a currency swap agreement worth 150 billion yuan RMB or 815 billion Rubles ($24 billion) last October. The amount of RMB currency used in bilateral trade settlement at the Russian branch of Bank of China grew more than six times last year, according to branch chief Zhao Lianjie.
The National Development Bank of China, a state-owned bank for financing overseas investment by Chinese companies, has signed cooperation agreement with three major banks of Russia in May to finance large-scale cooperation projects and the development of the Far East region.
China and Russia have also stepped up financial cooperation on such multilateral platforms as the Silk Road Fund and the Asia Infrastructure Development Bank.
Under the direct guidance of top leaders of both countries, investment and financial cooperation has become a new growth point for China-Russia all-round strategic cooperation partnership. Two- way trade is expected to top $100 billion this year after reaching an all-time high of $95.3 billion in 2014.