“Irreversible Relationship” Forms
At the end of March, Russian President Vladimir Putin and 800 delegates signed 22 contracts in a two-day visit to Beijing. The deals cover the gamut: installing a natural gas pipeline; exporting power to China’s energy grid; contributing space, civil aviation, agriculture, labor services; anti-terrorism cooperation.
Among the Sino-Russian deals is an agreement to build two huge natural gas pipelines—one 1,800 miles long—from Russia to China. If the deal proceeds, Russia will become one of China’s largest natural gas suppliers, supplying 60 to 80 billion cubic meters of gas—twice what China consumed in 2004.
The deal drew sharp criticism from European leaders. Why? “Given a lack of natural gas exploration and production in Russia to meet Russia’s new commitments,” upi wrote, “European leaders fear the Kremlin’s commitment to China can only be met at Europe’s expense” (March 22, emphasis ours).
Europe is sensitive because of the recent Russian-Ukrainian energy feud that saw Europe’s gas supply drop precariously low this past winter. For Europe, which relies on Russia for 70 percent of its natural gas supplies, the Sino-Russian deal is another blow in its drive to secure primary energy sources.
The latest figures show that for Russia to meet combined Chinese and European demand, Gazprom would have to invest $11 billion a year in Russian infrastructure. According to Claude Mandil of the International Energy Agency, Gazprom does not have that much money at hand because of its current focus on foreign projects and acquisitions (Financial Times, March 21).
Russia’s powerful utilities corporation, Unified Energy Systems, also signed a contract to export electricity to China’s State Grid Corporation, while Gazprom and Roseneft inked deals to supply China’s National Petroleum Corporation. Other smaller deals included cooperation in space, civil aviation, agriculture, labor services and terrorism.
These sensitive and wide-ranging deals point to an undisputable fact: Russia and China are forging a sturdy Eastern power bloc.
Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, was quoted in another upi article: “This is yet another shift in the strategic balance of power in Eurasia …. China and Russia as strategic allies are now controlling the Eurasian land mass from the South China Sea to the Baltic Sea” (March 22).
Cohen also suggested that these energy agreements signal Moscow’s preference for a relationship with China over the United States or Europe.
Cohen’s statement falls right in line with what the Bible says about an end-time Russian and Chinese partnership. According to Bible prophecy, Russia and China are to forge a powerful Eastern bloc known as the “kings of the east.”
With China, Russia’s fourth-largest trading partner, and Russia, China’s eighth-largest trading partner, cementing far-reaching energy and commercial deals—and a second round of joint military exercises planned—the two nations seem to have decided to lump their fortunes. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says it is an irreversible relationship (ibid.).
It is a relationship to watch.