- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG After moving to build closer ties with the United States and NATO, Russian President Vladimir Putin is turning to the East where Moscow's "strategic partner," China, has been jealously watching Russia's honeymoon with the West.
Mr. Putin met with Chinese President Jiang Zemin in St. Petersburg yesterday on the eve of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in the former Russian imperial capital. The group, dominated by Russia and China, also includes four former Soviet republics in Central Asia Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Participants of the summit are expected to sign the group's charter, making it a full-fledged international organization.
Speaking to a Chinese newspaper before the summit, Mr. Putin hailed the group's role in global security, saying it could help make Russia, China, the United States and Europe parts of one "arc of stability."
The Russian-Chinese "strategic partnership" was cemented by their joint opposition to what both countries perceived as the threat of U.S. global domination.
"Russia's foreign policy throughout the 1990s was chaotically swaying between the United States and China," Sergei Trush, an analyst with the Moscow-based Institute for the United States and Canada, said at a round-table on Russian-Chinese relations Wednesday. "Russia was trying to determine which of the two great powers was more important."
China became the No. 1 customer for the beleaguered Russian defense industry, which nearly had ground to a halt without orders from the cash-strapped Defense Ministry, purchasing billions of dollars worth of missiles, fighter jets, destroyers and submarines.
Welcoming Mr. Jiang at the historic Yusupov Palace, Mr. Putin said the two nations have "big plans" for expanding military cooperation.
Russia's cooperation with China culminated in a friendship treaty that Mr. Putin and Mr. Jiang signed in July, the first such document since 1950, when Josef Stalin and Mao Tse-tung created a Soviet-Chinese alliance a friendship that slid into rivalry and hostility in the 1960s.

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