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Official website of the President of Russia

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Extracts from the Transcript of a Meeting with Russian Journalists at the End of the Official Part of the Visit to the People’s Republic of China

July 18, 2000, Beijing

Question: Today you and Jiang Zemin signed a joint declaration on cooperation in the field of anti-missile defence. That is a political move. How realistic is cooperation in the military and military-technical spheres, and in the sphere of anti-missile defence? Is an Asian anti-missile defence similar to the European anti-missile system possible?

Putin: On the whole the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty settled the relations between the former Soviet Union and the United States. Likewise, today it regulates the relations between the United States and Russia. The meaning and value of the Treaty has consisted and still consists in that it has created a certain balance of forces in the world, a certain equilibrium. We believe that if the Treaty is terminated and if one of the parties to the accord withdraws from it unilaterally, that balance will be upset. It will of course provoke a reaction. I think neither Russia nor such a big and strong power as China will stand idly by and will seek to restore the balance.

We are already working with the People’s Republic of China in the field of military-technical cooperation. How far this cooperation may go would depend on circumstances. So, it is simply premature to speak about it now. Clearly, there will be a reaction, that is understood.

Question: Let us imagine a situation in which China has built up a big lead on you economically. Can it pose a threat to the unity of Russia, considering that China is close to the Russian Far East?

Putin: You know, if you want to live well yourself you should want your neighbours to live well. China is our long-time partner, and we are absolutely sure that not only because of geographical proximity, but also due to the many years of ties between the two states the development of one side would bring nothing but benefit to the other side.

To give you an example: Today we witness a dramatic leap in the trade between Russia and China. Chinese exports to the Russian Federation increased by almost 70% recently. How can we account for it? The purchasing power of the Russian population has grown. And so we can see that as soon as things improve a bit in one of the countries, the other country immediately benefits. We will see a similar effect if China takes a step forward. As China’s partners we certainly expect that it will have a positive impact on us. In fact we are sure of this.

To answer your first question, I would like to add that our current state of relations with the American partners gives us grounds to believe that we will solve these acute issues together. This is the conclusion prompted to me, among other things, by my personal meetings with the US President when we discussed anti-missile defence. Today I recalled my conversation with the President of the Untied States during my talks with the Chinese leaders. I recalled President Clinton saying that our discussions on this topic should not take place without the People’s Republic of China and should not arouse its suspicions. This gives us confidence that such complicated issues of critical importance for the future of humankind will be solved by all the parties to the process in the interests of all the people of the globe. We very much count on this and I think we have every chance of reaching an understanding and solutions of this kind.

July 18, 2000, Beijing