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Meeting with PRC President Xi Jinping and President of Mongolia Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh

September 15, 2022, Samarkand

Samarkand hosted a trilateral meeting of Vladimir Putin, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and President of Mongolia Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh.

Bilateral talks between the President of Russia and the President of China took place earlier in the day.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: President Xi Jinping, President Khurelsukh,

My dear friends,

I am happy to hold our talks in a trilateral format to discuss current issues related to developing our cooperation.

Russia is interested in the comprehensive promotion of relations with each of your states and I must say that relations are developing dynamically, constructively and for the benefit of all.

Of course, the Russia-China-Mongolia format is of special importance as an effective supplement to bilateral cooperation that ensures high added value for all three countries.

This close trilateral cooperation is completely natural, considering the geographical proximity and long-standing traditions of friendship, mutual support, respect and sympathy in relations between the people of Russia, China and Mongolia.

Our countries share approaches to a majority of urgent international issues and we act from coordinated positions in the UN and regional organisations. Together, we have managed to achieve tangible results in developing cooperation in the economy, trade, industry, science, high technology, environmental protection, the cultural, humanitarian and many other spheres.

I would like to recall that at a trilateral summit in Ufa in 2015, we endorsed a roadmap to build up our cooperation across the board. Following this fundamental document, in 2016 we approved a programme for creating a Russia-Mongolia-China economic corridor. Today, we can note with satisfaction that all these agreements are being successfully implemented and are yielding us practical dividends.

Mutual trade is growing year by year. Compared to 2014, when we started the trilateral format, Russia’s aggregate trade with China and Mongolia increased by almost 60 percent to over $142 billion in 2021. This amount grew by another 30 percent in the first half of this year.

The consistent course pursued by our three countries on broader use of national currencies in commercial settlements undoubtedly contributes to trade growth. Today, President Xi and I stated with satisfaction that the share of settlements in national currencies in Russia's trade with China increased to 27.5 percent in the first quarter of this year.

In this context, it is important, wherever possible, to transition to national payment platforms, such as the Bank of Russia’s financial messaging system or China’s cross-border payment system, which will make settlements between our states largely immune to external risks, including political risks.

Further development of multifaceted cooperation between the business circles of Russia, China and Mongolia, including as part of interregional and cross-border cooperation, should also be promoted in every possible way.

The regularly held joint tripartite business forums, fairs and exhibitions are enormously effective as well. In particular, the Joint Trade and Economic Forum of the three countries with the participation of a representative Russian delegation is scheduled to be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in autumn.

Undoubtedly, reinforcing trade, economic and investment ties between Russia, China and Mongolia is an important part of the integration processes in Eurasia and ties in well with the EAEU development processes and efforts to move forward China’s One Belt One Road initiative and Mongolia’s Steppe Road initiative.

Based on the existing record of accomplishment of trilateral cooperation, we propose focusing our efforts on the sustained implementation of the programme for expanding the Russian-Chinese-Mongolian economic corridor. Since it is making good progress, we agreed to renew it for another five-year period.

It appears that the efforts to move this programme forward should focus on further expansion of joint transport and logistics infrastructure and the creation of closer coordination of the national transport development programmes.

These steps will help facilitate a significant increase in cross-border cargo transportation and growth in mutual trade, and will also boost regional development.

The critical joint projects include modernisation of the Ulaanbaatar Railway, which is an important artery for container traffic between Russia, Mongolia and China. We believe it is necessary to continue to expand the capacity of this transport corridor and to renovate tracks, rolling stock and locomotive power.

In particular, we plan to renovate the Naushki checkpoint on the Russian-Mongolian border in order to increase cargo transit capacity to 15 million tonnes by 2025. We hope that existing border crossings on the Chinese-Mongolian border will benefit from its expanded capacity and more border crossings will be built.

It is also worth thinking about expanding and upgrading another transit corridor that goes through eastern Mongolia, which will be beneficial for traffic volume and speed, and will also make it possible to evenly distribute the load among the three countries’ transport networks.

We believe that expanding cooperation with China and Mongolia in the energy sector holds promise. The construction of the Soyuz Vostok gas pipeline from Russia to China across Mongolia is part of the current agenda. We discussed this issue in depth with your representatives who took part in the Eastern Economic Forum last week. Gazprom is in the final stages of discussing project details with the Chinese and Mongolian parties.

Chances are good for increasing Russia’s cross-border electricity supplies to China and Mongolia. Friends, we predict that energy transmission from Russia to your respective countries will have grown by about 20 percent to 5.2 billion kilowatt-hours by the end of this year.

No doubt, there are many more promising areas for trilateral cooperation. In particular, Russia is open to closer partnership with China and Mongolia in scientific research and the high-tech industry, including in areas such as creating modern science towns, technology parks and joint laboratories and expanding scientific and technical exchanges, as well as training and advanced training for academic and engineering professionals.

Of great importance is the implementation of trilateral transboundary environmental programmes aimed at preserving unique flora and fauna and developing specially protected natural areas in our common region.

Of course, it is also important to carry on our effective cooperation in the fight against infectious diseases, in particular, to improve the mechanisms of monitoring transmitting agents and the epidemiological situation in cross-border regions as a whole, as well as to coordinate efforts to prevent disease and set up quarantines.

Needless to say, special attention should be given to the development of cooperation among our countries in the tourism sphere. It would be useful to work together to create new transboundary and international travel routes across Russia, China and Mongolia, which will attract tourists not only from our countries but from across the world.

In conclusion, I would like to express certainty that the agreements we have reached today will help strengthen interaction between Russia, China and Mongolia in all spheres.

Thank you. I turn the floor over to the President of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping.

President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping (retranslated): President Putin, President Khurelsukh,

It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to participate with you in the 6th meeting of the Council of the Heads of State of Russia, China, and Mongolia. I welcome our Mongolian colleague, who is taking part in this event for the first time.

I would like to thank Russia and Mongolia for their substantial support to China earlier this year.

I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to review with you the results of the trilateral cooperation and outline new plans. I support President Putin’s positive assessment of our trilateral cooperation.

Our cooperation is elastic in its development, and it is focused in all directions. Over the past three years, our cooperation has successfully advanced despite the negative impact of the epidemic. The central and local governments of our countries are actively cooperating and promoting this cooperation. This is something to be commended.

In recent years, we have been actively cooperating to ensure the health of our countries’ people. After the onset of the Covid epidemic, we jointly analysed experiences, adopted the necessary quarantine measures, and began to develop appropriate vaccines.

There is a long history of cooperation between China and Mongolia, and our three countries as neighbors, maintain a high intensity of contacts, and are confident in the prospects for trilateral cooperation. In recent years, cooperation between our countries in educational and cultural exchanges has been growing.

New border crossing points are being opened actively, which stimulates cross-border cooperation and promotes stable trilateral trade. China makes great efforts to open as many border checkpoints as possible and to actively contribute to the coordinated development of the economies of our three nations.

We are working to ensure stable operation of transport and logistics channels. We hope that this year we will be able to reach a trade volume of $10 billion between China and Mongolia. We also hope that soon trade between Russia and China will reach $200 billion.

The program you mentioned is being intensively implemented and will be extended for five years. Its effectiveness for the development of our region is obvious.

Regarding the prospects for our cooperation, I have several suggestions.

First, steady movement in a definite direction of cooperation. We should strengthen political leadership, formulate a roadmap for our joint actions, support each other, take care of each other’s concerns, and respect each other’s interests.

Second, raising the level of cooperation within the SCO. China also hopes that Mongolia will decide to join the SCO as early as possible, show its natural advantages, contribute to the progress of this organisation and thus gain new benefits in order to face new challenges more effectively and make full use of the SCO platform.

Third, reaching an understanding as soon as possible on the creation of a cross-border economic corridor. We believe there is a need to extend the relevant joint program. Together with Russia and Mongolia, China intends to fully realise its geographical advantages and further promote trade in order to provide a high-quality communication platform to representatives of the three countries’ industry and economy.

Fourth, China proposes to actively expand cooperation in energy. We suggest that the three countries and their leading businesses coordinate and reach an understanding on mutually beneficial cooperation.

China actively supports broader use of settlements in national currencies and will welcome even more enterprises from Russia and Mongolia to join the yuan payment circuit.

Russia, Mongolia, and China have a long history of cooperation, which has produced notable results. I would like to continue to coordinate closely with my colleagues on this issue.

President of Mongolia Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh (retranslated): President of the Russian Federation, Chairman of today's meeting of the leaders of the three states – Mongolia, Russia and China, Mr Vladimir Putin,

President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping,

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to thank you for your speeches and for the important proposals on cooperation between our three countries.

I am glad that the sixth meeting of heads of state of Mongolia, Russia and China is traditionally being held on the sidelines of the SCO Heads of States Council meetings in Samarkand, in the Republic of Uzbekistan. I am confident that today's meeting of the heads of state following a break caused by the pandemic, will be effective and will give a new impetus to the development of cooperation between our three countries.

Mongolia, as an observer country, closely cooperates with and actively participates in SCO Heads of States Summits and other SCO events and meetings.

Our country is keen to further expand cooperation with SCO member states in trade, investment, energy, transport logistics, environmental protection, tourism, information technology, agriculture, humanitarian affairs, food security and food distribution, and to implement major joint projects of regional economic development.

We have a proverb: ”A close neighbour is better than a distant relative.“ Expanding friendly relations and cooperation with our two neighbours, Russia and China, is a priority of Mongolia's foreign policy.

Our country intends to further strengthen mutually beneficial political and economic cooperation with our neighbours at the level of a comprehensive strategic partnership, and to implement joint programmes and projects intended for our region’s sustainable development.

Over the past period, trilateral cooperation between Mongolia, Russia and China has expanded. Joint working group meetings have been held even in the challenging conditions amid the pandemic. There have been successful high-level reciprocal visits of the three countries’ foreign ministers and other top government officials. We maintain the frequency of our dialogue.

At this time, when the international environment is unstable and outbreaks of the pandemic still continue, further cooperation in strengthening trade and economic relations with real results is very important.

In this regard, Mongolia believes that the successful implementation of the Mongolia-Russia-China Economic Corridor Programme will strengthen the strategic partnership of our three countries and take cooperation to a new level within our region.

Heads of state, friends,

At this meeting, Mongolia is voicing its positions on the following important issues, and it expects to see results.

Thanks to its location linking Asia with Europe, Mongolia strives to become a key transit hub for developing transportation, trade and services.

Once again, I suggest that we conduct a feasibility study, modernise the Central Railway Corridor of the Mongolia-Russia-China economic corridor programme more actively, and that we start jointly implementing economically effective strategic projects, including the construction of the Eastern Corridor railway that would pass through eastern Mongolia, linking the Russian Federation’s Trans-Baikal Territory with northeastern China. This also includes the Western Transport Corridor linking Tyva in the Russian Federation with northern Chinese provinces via western Mongolia and the construction of a high-speed motorway linking the three countries.

I also suggest including a trans-border railway between Mongolia and China in the direction of Sainshand, Dzun-Bayan, Khangi, Mandal, Bugat and Ulantsav in the modernisation programme of the Central Railway Corridor.

In 2019, during the fifth meeting between the heads of state of our three countries, President Vladimir Putin touched upon the issue of building a new railway branch towards Dzun-Bayan and Khangi. We see construction of this new railway branch as a significant infrastructure project. By building this section, Russia and Mongolia will be able to redistribute cargo flows and reduce the load on the operational checkpoint on the Mongolian-Chinese border.

This railway will considerably expand trade between our countries, as well as freight traffic volumes via the railway. I ask the Chinese side to pay special attention to this. I am confident that you will support the project for building a high-speed motorway that would run parallel to the Asia Highway (AH3), and that you will directly participate in it. The AH3 is the most congested and economically important transportation artery linking our countries. Under the decision of Mongolia, the project is implemented using the public-private partnership concept.

I call on the sides to continue working actively and to implement agreements between the governments of Mongolia, Russia and China as regards international traffic via Asian motorways, and to score real successes and results in expanding trans-border traffic volumes between our countries.

Secondly, the Government of Mongolia is focused on building a gas pipeline that will supply natural gas from Russia to China via Mongolia, and is making every effort to complete it. In 2019, the President of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping, noted this at the third meeting of the three countries’ heads of state.

We also support a project for laying oil and gas pipelines that would deliver natural gas from Russia to China via Mongolia. I suggest we analyse this issue and conduct a feasibility study. 

As we step up and implement the gas pipeline project connecting our three countries, cooperation and mutual understanding between our supervising organisations are important. The Mongolian party is confident that the project will be realised successfully. Its implementation will become the second mega-project of our countries after the construction of the railroad that connected Mongolia, Russia and China in 1955.

Thirdly, Mongolia is a country that suffers greatly from the negative impact of climate change. Desertification and sand storms negatively affect the environment and the socio-economic situation as a whole.

In this regard, to counteract climate change, desertification and sand storms, as well as to increase its forest and water resources, Mongolia has initiated the Billion Trees national movement, which includes planting, growing and protecting forests in our country.

In accordance with previous discussions with you, I would like to bring up a proposal to jointly implement some projects and programmes of the Billion Trees national movement in Mongolia, adjusting them to the environmental policies and activities of our neighbouring countries.

As part of this work, the construction of the Erdeneburen Hydropower Plant began with the participation of our southern neighbour. I would also like to express our interest in cooperating with our northern neighbour, Russia, in the construction of the Egiin Hydropower Plant.

Fourthly, I consider it practical, while implementing major projects such as the construction of railroads and gas pipelines as part of trilateral cooperation, to discuss the creation of a joint investment planning centre of the three countries in Ulaanbaatar and creating a relevant joint working group.

Mongolia is committed to actively promoting trilateral cooperation and reaching substantial results as part of the roadmap to develop trilateral cooperation in the long term and the programme to create the Mongolia-Russia-China economic corridor.

I believe that, in addition to the key areas of trilateral trade and economic cooperation, we should pay due attention to the development of cooperation in such areas as science, culture, education, humanitarian activities, tourism and natural disaster relief. Mongolia will continue, within the multifaceted strategic partnership, to closely cooperate with its neighbours to further develop and expand trilateral cooperation.

At this meeting, we discussed the current issues of our relations and cooperation between our three countries.

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, chairman of this meeting,

President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and other officials,

I would like to express my deepest appreciation. Let me express confidence that the friendship and mutual trust between our nations will grow stronger. We are connected by land, ancient history and Mother Nature itself, and the goal of our cooperation is progress, which will develop and expand for the benefit of good initiatives.

Thank you for your attention.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Chairman, Mr President,

For my part, I would also like to thank you for a substantive exchange of views and information. I would like to say that our now traditional trilateral meetings on the sidelines of SCO events definitely benefit the development of relations between our countries.

I agree with you that we should emphasise the expansion of our practical cooperation in all spheres, and I believe that the unconditional implementation of the agreements we have discussed, after their expert examination at the practical and professional level, will certainly benefit us.

In conclusion, I would like to express hope for the continuation of our fruitful cooperation in the trilateral format. I am happy to pass on the responsibilities of chair of the next meeting to our Chinese friends.

Thank you.

September 15, 2022, Samarkand