State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin met with Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Moscow. The wide-ranging discussion touched upon various aspects of bilateral cooperation, which, as Volodin stated, remains traditionally close. In particular, “we see the inter-parliamentary commission at work, as well as observe constant inter-party and interregional interaction”. The Speaker highlighted “the work of relevant committees focusing on specific issues”. Moreover, Volodin praised Russia’s close cooperation with China as “a major priority for Russian foreign policy”, adding that “China is a key strategic partner and a friendly neighbor. It necessitates our special attention and a wide-ranging dialogue”. The “Rethinking Russia” think tank interviewed Sergei Lousianin, Doctor of History and Director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies RAS (IFES RAS), to learn more about the main directions of Russian-Chinese inter-parliamentary interaction and its prospects.
First, the Moscow visit of Zhang Dejiang may give fresh impetus to the traditionally close and constructive bilateral relations and reinforce the Chinese-Russian ties. In this respect, the inter-parliamentary cooperation is a new format and milestone for the evolving inter-party dialogue. While at an earlier stage many crucial bilateral issues were resolved at the top level or at the interagency level, today the parties can address the challenges which used to be beyond their scope through the advisory committees which focus on a particular realm.
It is noteworthy that nowadays China and Russia are essential to global stability, and although they are not allies formally, the two states are ultimate guarantors of global and regional security. Undoubtedly, the parties have developed different approaches to the international agenda. For instance, Russia vetoed the UN Security Council resolution condemning the chemical weapons attack in the Syrian province of Idlib while China abstained. However, these differences are not that profound. By contrast, inter-parliamentary interaction allows for a constructive dialogue on the issues and perhaps for consensus.
It is also noteworthy that inter-parliamentary negotiations are a unique forum enabling the two parties to consider matters of mutual interest at the regional level, which is perfectly illustrated by the “Volga-Yangtze” project.
Finally, both Chinese and Russian politics are largely personality-centered. In this context, Zhang Dejiang and Vyacheslav Volodin succeed in accomplishing the tasks their countries are faced with, as they belong to the ranks of experienced politicians and negotiators capable of fulfilling the primary objectives through inter-parliamentary negotiations. Besides, Volodin’s meeting with Dejiang should be regarded as a prelude to a Russia-Chinese summit due in the near future.