China, Russia boost investment, financial cooperation
BEIJING -- Investment and financial cooperation is injecting new momentum into China-Russia economic and trade ties after consensus was reached between two senior leaders.
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, who is now in St. Petersburg, will attend the second meeting of the China-Russia Investment Cooperation Committee on Thursday 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.
Describing bilateral cooperation as having made a breakthrough over the past year, Li Jianmin, a Eastern Europe and Central Asia researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that China and Russia have been exploring new growth potential in investment and finance cooperation.
"Russia has also attached greater importance to its Asian partners amid Western sanctions imposed over Moscow's alleged intervention in the Ukraine crisis," Li said.
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.
Amid steady investment growth, Chinese investors have eyed more sectors in Russia, including infrastructure construction, manufacturing, and science innovation compared to their traditional choices of energy, raw materials, and forestry.
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.
Chinese and Russian companies have been increasingly using the Chinese RMB to settle their transactions. In the first quarter, currency exchange between Rubles and RMB grew more than five fold year on year as Russian companies rapidly opened RMB bank accounts at a fast rate, according to data from Russian bank VTB.
Data from China's Ministry of Commerce also showed that the value of transaction settlements with the two currencies among Chinese and Russian companies grew 300 percent year on year in the first five months of 2015.
During his stay in St. Petersburg, Zhang will also attend the 19th Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Zhang is the third senior Chinese leader to visit 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 num