Interview of Ambassador of PRC to Russia Zhang Hanhui on prospects of the Russian-Chinese cooperation

6 May 2022

Ambassador of PRC to Russia Zhang Hanhui in his interview to TASS discussed about the trade-economic cooperation in the context of sanctions, joint projects in aviation and space and reiterated the permanent course in military and technical cooperation.


Have the priorities in military and technical cooperation between Russia and China changed since the beginning of the special operation in Ukraine? Will it be enhanced? Are there talks about buying any new types of military equipment from Russia? What progress is achieved in joint work on launching a Chinese national system of missile alert?

Military and technical cooperation is one of many other spheres of cooperation between Russia and China and it fully reflects the high level of partnership for strategic cooperation and the level of mutual trust between our two countries. Lately military and technical cooperation has shown significant results and it is constantly developing. Chinese-Russian military and technical cooperation is consistent with the national interests of both sides and based on the principle of mutual benefit, it is not aimed against any third side, it is promoting regional stability and development and it is a guarantee of international strategic balance and peace in the world. China sets high priority to the cooperation with Russia in this sphere and will work together with the Russian side to advance military and technical cooperation to a higher level and greater scale.

While European countries declare their intentions to reduce their dependence from Russian energy resources, is China ready to buy more oil and gas from Russia? Can China compensate possible loses on European market for Russia?

Lately China and Russia as important strategic partners in oil and gas industry have been gaining new great results in bilateral cooperation. Cooperation in energy sphere including oil and gas has always been a very important, productive and broad field of business cooperation between China and Russia. Russia has become one of the key suppliers of oil and gas to China and China in its turn is an important market for the Russian oil and gas. China’s energy market has a great potential and a growing demand. The sides will maintain the spirit of equality and mutual benefit, working together on the large strategic projects which could play a key role in constantly deepening complex cooperation in exploration and mining of traditional energy sources, their refining and selling ready-made goods in order to reach complementarity of benefits for our two countries and a common advantage.

What opportunities are there to get round the anti-Russian sanctions in economic cooperation? What is the proportion of transactions in national currencies? Do Moscow and Beijing work on increasing this proportion when new sanctions are being introduced?

China and Russia are the largest neighbours and partners in terms of comprehensive strategic cooperation. Trade and economic cooperation of our countries is an important part of bilateral relations. Last year the trade volume was more than 140 bln dollars, but the trade and economic cooperation has not reached its limit for growth and has a great potential and wide prospects. The sides work on reaching the goal set by the leaders of the two countries for increasing the trade volume upto 200 bln dollars by 2024. Transactions in national currencies have been conducted between China and Russia for many years already. And the share of yuan in trade transactions has increased from 3,1% in 2014 upto 17,5% in 2020.

National currencies of our countries have been gradually strengthening their positions as a means of payment at the same time effectively reducing the exchange risks and cutting the costs of exchange differencies for the companies. National currencies transactions have evident advantages in bilateral trade operations between China and Russia, so the demand from the companies for such transactions is growing steadily.

Nowadays sanctions from the USA and other Western countries against Russia have indeed caused some difficulties for the Chinese-Russian trade cooperation. In this situation we need to actively contact and coordinate in order to eliminate difficulties in trade and logistics which arose as a result of sanctions. China will support further expansion of national currencies transactions in the trade between our countries, in investment and credit financing. We will continue to fully deploy the capabilities of infrastructure organizations and financial institutions from both countries including clearing bank for operations in Chinese yuan on the territory of the Russian Federation in order to provide sustainable development of bilateral trade.

Will the intention of Russia to stop using dollar in foreign trade with China lead to increasing yuan digital transactions? Will it become the first step to dollar-free economic zone?

China and Russia never declared that they refused dollar or euro transactions in bilateral trade, whereas national currencies transactions and other methods of payment are useful additional means in the system of bilateral trade operations. The sides will use pragmatic, flexible and versatile forms of cooperation in trade relations in the future in accordance with the real life requirements of trade in the two countries.

Would you recommend Russian people to save yuan? Do you consider the opportunity to launch the payment system Mir in China? Are there plans on broadening the cooperation between Russian banks and Chinese payment system UnionPay and issuing co-badged payment cards Mir-UnionPay?

Lately the constant optimization of economic structure and architecture of regional development of China as well as broad reforms and openness policy have led to incredible results and stable positive dynamics of Chinese economic development, which strongly supports internationalization of yuan. According to the Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserve data published by the International Monetary Fund in the 4th quarter of 2021 the share of yuan in the world foreign exchange reserves has reached a highest ever level of 2,79%. It is worth mentioning that the exchange rate of yuan is gaining risk tolerance. Despite the risks connected with pandemic and geopolitical conflicts yuan maintained basic stability in a rational and balanced range which not only stabilized financial markets but also increased the financial attractiveness of yuan.

China endorses that Russian people use yuan and choose yuan to keep their savings in accordance with their practical needs. China UnionPay is acknowledged and has been working in Russia for many years already and therefore it is used by Russian card holders more often.  As for the promotion and usage of national payment systems Mir and China UnionPay in both countries it will be negotiated by central banks of the two sides during consultations.

Will the project of a long-range wide-body aircraft CR929 be accelerated under the sanctions? Which stage is the project on now?

Building a long-range wide-body aircraft CR929 is one of the most important projects of our two countries. Nowadays the sides have already reached consensus on the main questions such as investments, project design and division of labour in research and technological development, joint experiments and research advance in a smooth and stable way.

Director General of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin mentioned that the USA was excluded from the joint project "Venera-D" due to the sanctions imposed by Washington and the mission would be conducted by Moscow independently or with Beijing participation. He clarified that he gave instructions to start negotiations with China in order to coordinate and provide joint technical support to all missions on deep space research. What progress has been reached in this field?

Russia is a great space power which has long scientific and technical traditions, unique advantages and features. China has achieved a lot in the space industry lately: Shenzhou 13 spaceflight was successfully launched and the space capsule landed safely.

China considers space cooperation with Russia as very important. The two countries cooperate in a wide and fruitful way in the Moon and deep space research, manned space flight, satellite navigation, Earth’s remote sensing, space technology development and appliance. Space cooperation became an important direction of comprehensive partnership relations and strategic cooperation between China and Russia in our new era.

Space industry has a great potential and excellent prospects for cooperation. I am sure that consolidation of such strong space players as China and Russia will become a sum-greater-than-its-parts case and thus will serve best not only our peoples, but all mankind.

Will Beijing increase export of high tech goods to Russia when anti-Russian sanctions are being imposed? Is China ready to compensate the withdrawal of Western companies from the Russian market including those in electronics sector?

High tech trade between China and Russia is constantly progressing in accordance with the market laws and demand.  Our experience has proved that China and Russia have great prospects and pontential for cooperation in scientific and technical innovations. In 2020 and 2021 Chinese-Russian years of scientific, technical and innovation cooperation had great outcomes. Bilateral cooperation in science and technology is developing in accordance with the scientific and technology innovations at the same time it is progressing independently without other factors interference. The sides will continue to promote cooperation in this sphere applying a win-win scenario.

Will Chinese automobile import to Russia expand and will autоmobile production in Russia increase when many automobile producers have left Russian market? Will they be able to meet the increasing demand?

During many years of work on the Russian market the companies Great Wall, Chery and other Chinese automobile producers have launched a number of popular models basing on the exact analysis of the market and demand, which demonstrated great market results. In fact, Russian customers are in great favour of Great Wall Haval and other popular models.

Chinese automobile industry has been developing really fast lately. Chinese cars are of high quality, have reasonable quality-to-price ratio and a wide choice of models, and in some factors have already overcome their foreign competitors. Chinese automobile companies will continue to supply the Russian market in accordance with its peculiarities and demands, will strive to increase the production and trade volume. I am sure that thanks to the independent compelete production line, scientific research potential, industrial capacities, high quality of the product and increasing influence of the brands Chinese cars will be increasing their share on the Russian market and be even more popular among Russian customers.