|Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) joins in an online chat with Internet users from across China via Xinhuanet.com, the official website of Xinhua News Agency, in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 22, 2013. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)
BEIJING, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- China-Russian relations stand at an unprecedented height driven by trade and energy cooperation, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday, himself a fan of ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tze.
During an online chat with Chinese netizens on xinhuanet.com, the official website of Xinhua News Agency, Medvedev answered a wide range of questions concerning political, economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries.
While trade reached a record high of 88 billion U.S. dollars in 2012, the two countries plan to raise the volume to 100 billion dollars by 2015 and 200 billion dollars by 2020.
Both sides will improve cooperation in various fields, such as energy and the humanities, said Medvedev, who arrived in Beijing early Tuesday for a two-day official visit.
Prior to the session at Xinhua, Medvedev and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang co-chaired the 18th regular meeting of heads of government. They also witnessed the signing of an array of documents.
MORE OIL & GAS SUPPLIES
According to an agreement signed on Tuesday, Russia's biggest oil company Rosneft will supply an additional 10 million tonnes of crude oil to China each year over the next 10 years. Medvedev said, "it means 100 million tonnes in the next 10 years, worth a total of 85 billion U.S. dollars." China imported 24.33 million tonnes of crude oil from Russia in 2012.
The two countries will also construct a joint-venture oil refinery in Tianjin, which will be able to process 16 million tonnes of crude oil each year. China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the country's largest oil and gas producer and supplier will hold a 49 percent stake and Rosneft the remaining 51 percent, he added.
Russia and China had also agreed on a price-setting formula for Russian gas, and are negotiating the price itself, he said. "Although this issue is relatively tough, we will reach consensus soon."
On the nuclear front, the Russian prime minister said his country was willing to continue cooperation with China.
Tianwan nuclear power plant in eastern China's Jiangsu Province, which now has four reactors, was a good example of bilateral cooperation over nuclear energy, he said.
WELCOME TO FAR EAST
He said Russia welcomed more Chinese investment in the Russian Far East and promised to protect foreign investors.
Chinese companies have begun developing the Russian Far East and both sides had many joint projects. Large Chinese companies mainly invest in energy, chemicals and mining, while medium and small companies largely did business in agriculture and other sectors, he said.
Russia will protect all foreign investors, including those from China, he said. "We won't let foreign investors feel wronged. Otherwise, no one will come to the country to invest."
Over the eight year period ending in 2012, direct foreign investment by Chinese companies in Russia increased 40 times to reach 4.9 billion U.S. dollars. In the first seven months of this year, the figure rose by another 250 million U.S. dollars, according to Tang Hua, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning body.
EMERGING ECONOMIES CRUCIAL
Medvedev said emerging economies including BRICS nations are crucial for the future of the world economy. "If China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Russia can not contribute to the steady development of the world economy, nothing can be achieved."
Russia's largest trade partner, the European Union is facing economic recession. The situation of the U.S. economy is still not optimistic, he said.
BRICS nations and other emerging economies have difficulties, but their potential is great and offsets shortcomings of developed nations whose economies are "very dull," he said.
"Without coordination in the international monetary system and financial institutions, we cannot succeed," he said. "We will work hard to cooperate within various mechanisms, including the G20 and BRICS."
The 49-year-old prime minister is interested in Chinese culture ranging from Chinese movies to Chinese medicine and cuisine.
He was especially fascinated by Lao Tze, believed to be the founder of Taoism and the author of Tao Te Ching, the universal Taoist text book written more than 2,000 years ago with topics ranging from political advice to practical wisdom.
"Some of his tenets were quite profound," Medvedev said. He quoted Lao Tze's saying "He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still."
"This is a very good saying. It can be applied to everybody and in every occasion in our life," Medvedev said.
Since 2006, the two countries held reciprocal events, including the Year of Russia in China in 2006, the Year of China in Russia in 2007, language years in 2009 and 2010, followed by tourism years.
The two countries will launch the China-Russia Youth Friendly Exchange Year, he said.
When asked about the education cooperation, Medvedev said Russia has many "very good" colleges and universities. He welcomes those who are interested in Russian culture and science.
While talking about tourism, he said Russia will ensure that more Chinese have opportunities to travel in Russia and that more Russians travel to China.
He promised continuous improvement to the visa system.
At the end of the online chat, Medvedev presented a gift, an album of pictures he took during his tours around the world, including China.
He offered the gift to "Si Zhu" from east China's Jiangsu Province whose question "could bring closer the peoples of the two countries," though the prime minister said he liked all the questions from Chinese netizens.
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