November 19th, 2014
11:24 AM ET

Is Russia cozying up to China?

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By Global Public Square staff

Everyone was talking about the moment at last week's APEC Summit in Beijing when Russian President Vladimir Putin draped a shawl over the shoulders of China's First Lady. Many claimed he was flirting. Who knows if he was, but there's no question that Putin IS trying to woo the Chinese.

Last Sunday, Moscow and Beijing signed an accord to develop a second gas route to supply China with Russian gas. And, just 6 months ago, the two nations struck another energy deal – this one a 30-year blockbuster, worth $400 billion.

The Russians reportedly hope that soon China will become their biggest gas consumer. Are we seeing the consolidation of a Russia-China axis?

Well, not quite.

For China, the mega gas deals would help officials diversify away from coal, which would lower pollution levels, which have caused significant public concern in the country. But for Russia, the situation seems more desperate. Remember oil and gas not only accounted for 70 percent of Russia's exports in 2012, but also for more than half of its federal budget income, according to the U.S. Energy Department, which cites PFC Energy Research.

And thanks in part (but only in part) to falling oil and gas prices, Russia's economic outlook is bleak. Western sanctions have crippled the Ruble, which so far this year has tumbled by about 30 percent against the dollar, according to FactSet data. Russia's inflation rate reached 8.3% in October.

The Central Bank has had to raise interest rates to 9.5 percent, and still not much capital is flowing into the country. Don't forget, European nations are Russia's biggest crude oil and gas importers. And many of them have, of course, been looking for ways to curb their dependence on Russian energy in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.

So, Russia is right now contending with falling gas prices and the potential winnowing away of its main market for that gas. To us, the proposed deal with China seems to speak more to Russia's desperation than to Putin's powers of persuasion: He needed a deal…and fast.

And it seems in his haste, he left some things on the table. The Moscow Times reported that China has gotten the "upper hand" in the gas deal. The paper quoted a Moscow think tank director, who says that for Russia "[t]he profit margin for the Chinese contracts would be close to zero."

Beijing got a great economic deal because it's saving the Kremlin from its increasing isolation. After all, this is a very unequal partnership. Russia imports more goods from China than anywhere else in the world. But look at this list of China's top import markets. Russia ranks 10th on that list, according to MIT's Observatory of Economic Complexity. And remember that the Chinese economy today is ALMOST five times the size of Russia's and that gap is likely to grow over time.

There's no doubt that for now, the deal helps Russia enormously and China likes having a partner that is large, global, influential and like Beijing, wants to distance itself from the U.S. and its influence. But over time, don't be surprised if this marriage turns out to be a troubled affair, one of convenience more than true love.


soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. Philip

    Besides MJ Motown are Al Green and Marvin Gay. And K.C. and the Sunshine Band. There were some white boys in there. RIP Margie Shoedinger.

    November 19, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      Jackson's didn't sign Motown until 1969.
      Motown started 10 years before that.

      November 19, 2014 at 8:45 pm | Reply
      • Philip

        I held hands with Michael Jackson in 1969. All you did was Google him.

        November 20, 2014 at 4:04 am |
      • Philip

        And be honest, banasy. You had a poster of Danny Partridge on your schoolgirl wall. Maybe Bobby Sherman or Donny Osmond. You thought Elvis to be too old for you till you learned his main squeeze was 15. And Bill Clinton was just a CIA agent so...Danny Partridge it was.

        November 20, 2014 at 4:10 am |
      • banasy©

        I grew up in the town next town over, Philip.
        I didn't have to Google it.
        I lived it.
        You simply do not like to be wrong.

        As for your 4:10 AM screed, your fiction is historically inaccurate where it pertains to my life. I have asked you before not to project your life onto me. I don't care who your childhood crushes were, or what posters you had on your wall.

        November 20, 2014 at 10:34 am |
  2. chri§§y

    Stevie Wonder was the greatest Motown. And Marvin GAYE, Al Green, Martha and the Vandellas, Dianna Ross and the Supremes, The Temptations.

    November 19, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Reply
    • winters

      Stevie Wonder is a great person aand it goes to show that handicapped people are just as good as someone who is not its amazing what people can do

      November 20, 2014 at 10:40 am | Reply
  3. chri§§y

    THANK YOU @ banasy! You know it sista!

    November 19, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      I grew up listening to Motown, and I lived in the area when the Jackson 5 were still singing for Steeltown Records, pre-Diana Ross discovery.

      I remember that era well.

      November 19, 2014 at 8:55 pm | Reply
  4. chri§§y

    Me too @ banasy... Lol a way of life like Tiger baseball on the radio and watchin my aunts and uncles and my parents drinkin Strohs Beer and Made Rite Potatoe Chips...that WAS the Motown life! Lol

    November 19, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  5. dazzle

    It looks like the typical party was on in here. I'll just say Hi and run along.

    November 19, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  6. chri§§y

    Spot on @ rupert lmao! Now im impressed! And @ dazzle you dont gotta run...the one who will remain unmentioned has done the usual...smash and dash! Lol

    November 19, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Reply
    • Philip

      Post and go, Chrissy. Not smash and dash.

      November 20, 2014 at 3:32 am | Reply
  7. dazzle

    Chrissy you are making me laugh.

    November 19, 2014 at 10:01 pm | Reply
    • rupert

      Me too. Chrissy is making me laugh

      November 19, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Reply
      • dazzle

        Hi Rupert and Blue, you may be right about him. I prefer not getting involved. Have a good sleep. It is cold and snow is coming.

        November 19, 2014 at 10:28 pm |
      • rupert

        Good night dazzle 🙂

        November 19, 2014 at 10:30 pm |
  8. Blue Saffron

    I don't take Philip serious at all. He doesn't post from the heart, but from his brain which is missing too many cells.
    QUACK QUACK QUACK
    He walks like a duck.
    He talks like a duck.
    He must be a duck.

    November 19, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Reply
    • Philip

      The heart is treacherous. Who could know it.
      At least my mom didn't name me after a plastic flower.

      November 20, 2014 at 3:35 am | Reply
  9. Blue Saffron

    There will be no peace ever until the Palestinian issue is solved. Let me make that perfectly clear. The Indian occupied plebiscite must be completed.

    November 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm | Reply
    • Philip

      There will be no peace until the leaders of the plebeians are all slain. And each remaining knee bent. The meek shall inherit the earth, as one famous man put it.

      November 20, 2014 at 3:43 am | Reply
      • banasy©

        You will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. God doesn't do mean and ornery.

        November 20, 2014 at 10:57 am |
  10. rupert

    I see mr. Weirdo is back. So I guess in a while we can see hannah and his other make believe characters in blue

    November 19, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Reply
  11. chri§§y

    Lol see what self medicating does guys? Especially when its in liquid form! Ive been wondering if hes part of them moonshiner crowd that ya see when youre flippin through the channels on cable tv. Idk the name of the show or the channel but ive seen it on the guide. Just wonderin.

    November 19, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Reply
    • Grizzly Adams

      Lol. See what doctor medicating does? RIP Robin Williams.

      November 20, 2014 at 4:25 am | Reply
  12. chri§§y

    And @ Blue Saffron lol thats an insult to ducks...WHAT have they ever done to you? Hes just your run of the mill Freak of Nature! Lmao.

    November 19, 2014 at 10:35 pm | Reply
    • Cicero

      Who *wouldn't* want to be considered a freak given what normalcy is these days.

      November 20, 2014 at 4:28 am | Reply
  13. Mel

    Whatever. Now go back to India you Hindu ra pist and began your rayping of the innocent.
    Follow your prescribed law of Gita Bhagavad..

    November 19, 2014 at 10:38 pm | Reply
  14. chri§§y

    Gnite my sista from anutha mutha! 😉 Thank God you dont live in Buffalo huh?

    November 19, 2014 at 10:38 pm | Reply
    • Extenze Family

      You mean Good night my second cousin from someone else's lovin'.

      November 20, 2014 at 4:02 am | Reply
    • Grizzly Adams

      I spent the night inside of a buffalo. Twern't that bad.

      November 20, 2014 at 4:14 am | Reply
      • Grizzly Adams

        ...not atall as bad as a layover in Rochester.

        November 20, 2014 at 4:22 am |
    • dazzle

      I'm glad we are not in Buffalo. No thanks.

      November 20, 2014 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  15. rupert

    Grizzly Adams is a gay camel jockey from Pakistan. He stole $400 billion from russia.
    Bill Cosby touched me in 1982

    November 20, 2014 at 6:02 am | Reply
    • Idiocracy

      Idiocracy, your honor. I have no more witnesses to call and rest my case.
      You may step down now, Rupert.

      November 20, 2014 at 10:24 am | Reply
    • Department of Justice

      If he touched you he is guilty of statutory raype. Ain't that right, banasy.

      November 20, 2014 at 10:26 am | Reply
      • banasy©

        My definition of rape is as follows:

        Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.

        Statutory rape is the exact same thing; generally used when the victim is under the age of consent.

        I don't know why you think I don't know these things, Philip. The only one who seems unclear on it is you.

        November 20, 2014 at 10:48 am |
  16. rupert

    Blue Saffron is a fatso

    November 20, 2014 at 8:43 am | Reply
  17. rupert

    I don't make snowmen. I create snow women with a mega pair.

    November 20, 2014 at 8:48 am | Reply
  18. RALF H.

    I A M SURPRISED !!! CZAR VLADIMIR PUTIN, has openly, since "LIBERATION OF CRIMEA" and economical "sanctiouns". taken the way nearer CFhina. Ralf. FINLAND:

    November 20, 2014 at 9:02 am | Reply
  19. ralf

    Excuse me. I did not know I was sending my comment, Or is this ordinary putincensorship ???. Regards, Ralf

    November 20, 2014 at 9:09 am | Reply
  20. RALF H.

    OK I GIVE UP !!. Ralf

    November 20, 2014 at 9:11 am | Reply
  21. rupert

    I am a deep thinker. Blogging here is like flying a kite as opposed to flying back into time in a different dimension.
    My thoughts radicate into the infinitely.

    November 20, 2014 at 10:37 am | Reply
  22. rupert

    I have an ora that only dazzle and chrissy come close to understanding.
    Whoa! Praise God aliyoya!

    November 20, 2014 at 10:40 am | Reply
    • dazzle

      Rupert is that spelled aura?

      November 20, 2014 at 8:52 pm | Reply
  23. chri§§y

    Lol @ banasy...c'mon now it only took him 4 or 5 hours to come up with a response. You dont really think after putting that much time into some intense thinking and probably alot of stuttering...not to mention how many mason jars of moonshine...that he was gonna LET IT GO did ya? Lol b..b..b...but w...w...wait a second...ooh...c...c...crap...i forgot what i was gonna say! Lmao

    November 20, 2014 at 10:53 am | Reply
    • banasy©

      His fiction needs work, Chrissy.

      November 20, 2014 at 11:22 am | Reply
  24. chri§§y

    Lol @ banasy...and his reality needs ALOT more work!

    November 20, 2014 at 11:41 am | Reply
  25. chri§§y

    So @ Philip...do we understand you correctly...the Jackson family have YOU to thank for the allegations made against him??? Ok then Bailiff!! Take this man...and WHACK his pee pee! DISMISSED!

    November 20, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  26. chri§§y

    Omg @ dazzle...me too! One winter there was enough to last me a lifetime!! Them poor people this year though! Wow! Many of them havent been out in several days!

    November 20, 2014 at 9:02 pm | Reply
    • dazzle

      Chrissy, I hear you. The pictures of Buffalo are just gruesome. We've had snow and cold weather here. I am not going to make a big deal about the weather ever again.

      November 20, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  27. chri§§y

    Lol wish i could say the same @ dazzle. Im sick of it already and it aint even winter yet. And its interfering in my trips upnorth to much!

    November 20, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  28. Benedict Barau

    I wonder how much the divorce will cost?!!!.

    November 24, 2014 at 8:45 am | Reply
  29. bobo

    DRIVERS PAYING LESS at the pump due to free-falling oil prices can thank the U.S. energy boom for generating shale oil – and weakening OPEC's ability to keep the cost of a gallon of gas high.

    November 28, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Reply
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