Russian freight cars containing timber in Suifenhe, a major Chinese border city with Russia, on September 26, 2018 Photo: IC
China-Russia two-way trade is expected to hit a new high this year, while experts said Tuesday the closer bilateral business ties indicate the US can't 100 percent contain China, which is still expanding cooperation with other economies like Russia.
As of Sunday, the railway port of Suifenhe, a city in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province that borders Russia, saw total trade hit a record high of 10.71 million tons so far this year, up 10.5 percent year-on-year, according to a report on the government's website.
Meanwhile, the port increased the use of China Railway Express freight trains, with a total of 113 trains delivering 9,488 20-foot equivalent unit containers, the report said.
The data from the small border city reflects the big picture of China-Russia trade, which is expected to reach a new high of $110 billion for the full year, according to China's Ministry of Commerce
(MOFCOM). Data from the ministry showed bilateral trade reached $100.32 billion in the first 11 months of this year, up 3.1 percent year-on-year.
There is potential for the two countries to step up cooperation in sectors including energy, agriculture and services trade, Jiang Yi, a deputy director of Russian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
"Recent years saw the fast growth of services trade between the two countries, such as tourism, financial services and technological innovation," Jiang said.
China is the largest source of visitors for Russia, and the latter ranks top among important visitor sources for China, according to the website of Chinese government. In 2018, more than 2 million Chinese traveled to Russia and nearly 2.5 million Russians came to China, it said.
"China and Russia are complementary in the agricultural sector, where much work can be done to expand trade between the two countries, for example soybeans, vegetables and fruit," Sun Huijun, an expert on relationships among China, Russia and Central Asian countries, told the Global Times.
China still needs agricultural imports to meet its domestic needs, while rich land resources in Russia's Far East haven't been developed due to obstacles like labor and capital shortages, Sun said.
The two sides are formulating a roadmap for the high-quality growth of trade in goods and services through 2024, making sure that the target of $200 billion in trade would be achieved, Gao Feng, spokesperson of the MOFCOM, said at a press briefing on December 12.
"There is pressure to achieve the goal in just five years, but a higher goal at least guides bilateral cooperation efforts in the right direction," Jiang said, noting that "given the two sides' firm determination and cooperation in sectors yet to be explored, the time spent to realize the goal will be much shorter than the time it took to achieve the $100 billion trade target."
Apart from China and Russia themselves, the two large Eurasian economies' moves to expand cooperation, maintain globalization and boost free trade will have a guiding effect for the whole region, Jiang said.
Amid a complex external environment and US' containing moves, China still has opportunities to cooperate with other countries and regions and continue to promote opening-up and inclusive cooperation, rather than seeking development behind closed doors, he said.