In terms of diplomatic idiom and style, the remarks by the Chinese ambassador to Russia Li Hui during a meeting with Russian parliamentarians in Moscow on Tuesday are noteworthy. Chinese diplomats are highly professional and the margin of error in articulation and conduct is virtually 'nil'. According to Interfax news agency, Li told the Russian MPs that China "sees Russia as its main strategic partner,"; that "the extent our cooperation has reached an unprecedentedly high mark,"; and, that "our contacts continue to become stronger and expand in many directions."
Li said 2011 is a special year as it marks the 10th anniversary of a treaty on strategic partnership between the two countries. He added: "This document holds a unique place in the foreign policy of our two countries. In other words, it is gold of the highest purity, 99.9%." He said, "In international affairs we stand shoulder to shoulder, as the saying goes, and we hold similar positions on many key issues, whether it is the situation in North Africa, in the Middle East or in some other countries. By achieving definitive and complete solutions to border disputes, our countries eliminated the latent danger for the further positive development of their cooperation."
These remarks cannot but be seen against the backdrop of the US-Russia reset coming under duress lately and the Chinese rhetoric about the US taking a sharp turn after last week's strategic dialogue in Washington. The Russian and Chinese foreign ministers met twice during the past fortnight - at Moscow and in Almaty during the SCO FM conference.
Beijing is closely watching the US-Russia talks on missile defence and the unilateral US deployments of ABM systems in Poland and Romania disregarding Moscow's protests. President Dmitry Medvedev at his press conference today in Moscow - first of its kind in his presidency - kept up the Russian warning that Moscow will respond to the US deployments in NATO territories. He said Russia will boost its nuclear strike capabilities if NATO refuses to cooperate with Moscow in the European missile defense project. "I hope that they [NATO] would respond to the questions put forward by President Barack Obama and me, and we will be able to forge a missile defense cooperation model. If we don't, then we will have to take retaliatory measures... then we will have to force the development of our strike nuclear potential. It would be a very bad scenario, this scenario will take us back to the Cold War era," Medvedev added.
Medvedev not only didn't soften the tone of Moscow rhetoric on ABM, he used the expression "retaliatory" and invoked Cold-War era confrontation. People's Daily has featured two commentaries within a week attacking the Barack Obama administration. The first one visualised that the departure of two "China hands" in the administration -- James Steinberg, the deputy secretary of state, and Jeffrey A. Bader, senior director for Asian Affairs on the National Security Council - who are both considered "China-friendly", would lead to a "more forceful" and "more aggressive" policy toward China, which is advocated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary.
Today, PD carried another unusual commentary singling out Clinton for attack. It took umbrage at Clinton's remark to Atlantic magazine that Beijing is worried about a Middle-East type upheaval erupting in China - "They're worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool's errand." PD hit back saying her "undignified comments" were lacking in "diplomatic etiquette" and that "US is always finding fault with China, considering the core of its global strategies is to prevent other powers from elevating to a level enough to challenge its otherwise overwhelming superiority. Now that China has grown up to be the world's No. 2 economy, the U.S. would naturally keep a vigilant eye on it, fearing China would one day overtake and replace it."
Without doubt, there is a momentum building toward Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Russia in mid-June.