Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: Dear Chinese friends!
First of all I would like to again express our most sincere condolences for the tragedy which the people of China have suffered.
Russia deeply empathizes with your grief and will do everything possible to help eliminate the consequences of the earthquake.
Dear Mr Shi Chzhihun! Professors and students of Beijing University!
I am very interested to visit Beida [Beijing University], the most prestigious higher education institution in China. Just the other day the University celebrated its 110th anniversary. I sincerely congratulate you on this occasion.
I will not hide the fact that it feels very special to be here in one of the oldest high-quality universities. In many ways this is because, as Mr Rector just said, I myself have long been in a university environment. And so to stand here at this podium is doubly a privilege and a pleasure for me. Even more so because it is in such stalwart educational institutions that a new generation of scientists, educators, philosophers and thinkers will be formed. People who will subsequently form the country's elite and will take on many important tasks in the future, who will bear the responsibility for new achievements in science, economics, politics and culture.
They will have the responsibility of implementing all that is progressive and beneficial to society. And as you say in China, new people are replacing old, just as one wave washes over another.
This is not my first time on hospitable Chinese soil, but my first time in China as President of the Russian Federation. And during this meeting I would like to share my reflections on the leading role of science, education and cultural cooperation in today's globalising world and, of course, the prospects of the strategic partnership between Russia and China, the major significance of our relations for the development of both countries and for the world at large.
As you know in recent years our bilateral relations have been unprecedented in their intensity and comprehensiveness. And it is especially important that they are based on mutual trust and mutual confidence in the reliability and long-term nature of our partnership.
Russia and China are truly great neighbours and the history of our relationship goes back many centuries. And we are objectively interested in cooperation and are important to one another. This is also true in today's world in which relations are based on mutual national interests. This applies to the development of our national economies, education and science, as well as to our participation in the processes of global development.
The most important thing is that our states seek to increase the quality of life of our citizens, making them feel confident about their futures, and making young generations happy and prosperous.
I think that all this represents a solid basis for close and fruitful cooperation, for the development of stable and mutually beneficial relations in the decades to come, and for the mutual confidence that our younger generations will continue to cooperate closely, strengthening the ties of our traditional friendship.
In this regard I would like to highlight the unprecedented project of the National Years of Russia and China. Their main purpose, of course, has been attained: our people have come to know and understand each other better.
I would emphasize that the 2001 Sino-Russian Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation represents the solid foundation for our relations. And we are successfully completing the Action Plan that governs the implementation of the Treaty from 2005 to 2008. And before the end of the year — we agreed on this yesterday with President of China Hu Jintao – we will adopt a similar document through to 2012. And we are very careful to preserve positive interaction between Russia and China. The Chinese party has the same attitude and feelings in this regard.
I can cite the resolution of border issues as an example of us being able to successfully overcome difficulties that we inherited from earlier times.
The completion of the border settlement is undoubtedly a historic event. And as a lawyer I would add that such questions — you also know this, dear colleagues — are the most intractable ones in international relations.
As you know the negotiating process on the Sino-Russian border took more than forty years. And it would have been simply impossible to reach a decision without our new high-quality bilateral relations, without the high level of trust and friendship that exists between our peoples and political leaders.
We now have to exert joint efforts to promote cooperation along the border, as well as work together to protect the environment in the interests of both countries and for the benefit of our entire region.
We recently signed the Agreement on the Rational Use and Protection of Trans-Border Bodies of Water. We expect that its implementation will bear concrete results and are ready to expand cooperation with our Chinese partners so as to work in a constructive on the entire range of environmental affairs.
I'll add that maintaining high environmental standards is relevant not only for our region but for the world at large. And you know that this subject will be discussed very soon at the forthcoming G8 summit. We plan to devote our attention to this issue during our presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
In this auditorium I would like to draw special attention to issues concerning education and scientific and technical cooperation. I am convinced that today, but even more so in the future, precisely education, culture, new knowledge and technology will allow humanity to follow the path of progress.
As we know, love of learning lies at the foundations of all Chinese civilization. In no small measure this desire for knowledge helped further China's continued development, its development over several millennia, and thus created a great Chinese cultural tradition.
It is no coincidence that Confucius said that his only talent, the one that differentiated him from others, was this love of learning. His collection Lun Yu begins with his famous aphorism: ”To learn and to repeat what has been learned, is this not a delight!“.
I know that much is being done in today's China to improve the accessibility of education: to increase the number of students and postgraduates, to provide training for new teachers. You annually send specialists abroad to learn about the development of new technologies and most modern forms of education.
In our country, in Russia, we consider this sphere a priority. It is not the first year that we are implementing an ambitious national project called Education. We deliberately encourage young quick-learning talented teachers and youth. We are counting on a radical improvement in productivity through active innovation and technology. We are preparing new personnel to take part in a thoroughly modern industry.
And in this respect I think that both our countries are actively preparing for a powerful future breakthrough, a breakthrough which is based on the technological modernisation of our entire societies and with a view to being accepted as equals by the leaders of global economic development.
I would especially emphasize that already now Russia has finalized a long-term national development programme, a programme through to 2020.
We clearly understand how important raising the level of education and science is for our country's recovery. And we remember well aware those historic milestones in Russia's development, its great scientific discoveries, that were made by the best minds of our country.
Moreover, this shared curiosity and desire for innovation, the efforts of both our peoples to constantly learn new things, should constitute the basis for our joint work today, for realizing truly breakthrough projects in the economy and other spheres of our lives.
I would also say that together we can make a significant contribution to overcoming the serious global challenges facing humankind today. They include the availability of energy, overcoming poverty, the sustainability of world financial markets, and ensuring food security.
I would repeat that an intellectual and technological breakthrough in our countries could act as the basis for resolving such problems and, of course, so could an understanding of the huge responsibility we bear for the sustainable economic development of the region and the world at large, for the maintenance of stability and security in the world.
Exchanges in education are successfully developing between Russia and China. They involve students, graduate students, interns, as well as university instructors and researchers. In recent years, the number of Russian and Chinese educational institutions that established direct bilateral contacts has markedly increased. For example, the number of students in a programme with a joint bachelor degree has increased to nearly three thousand people.
Russian universities which teach Chinese language support extensive contacts with universities in your country. Today about 15,000 Chinese students study in Russia and about 4,500 Russian students study in China. I know that there are Russian students in this auditorium. I would like to note that the number of young people in Russia who want to study Chinese language and culture is increasing and will continue to do so.
I am convinced that we have to actively expand contacts between our youth, hold more joint student festivals, academic forums, large-scale cultural and sporting activities for youth, and to provide young people with the most extensive facilities for academic research, technological and cultural projects.
All this is very important for our countries.
A few words about bilateral relations in the field of language learning. It is well-known that China's interest in Russian language has a long history. Exactly 300 years ago in 1708 the Russian Language School was established in Beijing by the Palace Chancellery.
I know that today there is great interest and respect for Russian cultural heritage in China. You read Russian newspapers and magazines and sometimes sing Russian songs. The famous [Russian song] Moscow Nights has become part of the culture of Chinese people.
I would note that the Russian tradition of Chinese studies has always been one of the strongest in the world. Already by mid-nineteenth century several of our universities taught Chinese. And in light of this historical tradition we signed an intergovernmental agreement on the study of Russian language in China and of Chinese in the Russian Federation. I think that we simply need to further promote this work.
I hold great hopes for the Year of Russian Language in China in 2009 and the Year of Chinese Language in Russia in 2010.
I am deeply convinced that those who are now studying Russian language, including those sitting in this room, will very soon be in demand, primarily because Russian-Sino multifaceted cooperation is growing faster.
I will not bore you with an abundance of facts and figures. Suffice it to say that since 2000 our trade has grown more than 5.5 times, while its average annual growth amounts to 30 per cent or more. Russia today occupies seventh place among China's trading partners and China is Russia's the third largest partner.
We have great prospects for cooperation in energy (including nuclear energy), in science and technology, space, telecommunications and information technology.
We have planned and are already implementing many large-scale projects in these and other areas, such as the construction of the Tianwan nuclear power plant in the Jiangsu province. Its first phase was put into operation last year.
I can name a similar example in Russia, the important Baltic Pearl project being implemented by Chinese companies in St Petersburg. This project includes the construction of many social facilities, roads, bridges, and renovation of the canals of our northern capital, St Petersburg. Last year a modern business centre built within this project was opened.
We are all looking forward to the opening of the Olympics in Beijing.
I am sure that the Olympics will be an outstanding sporting event and will benefit from the highest level of organisation. Russia very much wants Beijing to host a memorable and successful Olympics.
On the streets of Beijing you will be able to meet famous Russian athletes, Russian musicians and even politicians. All of them will be happy with successes at the Olympics.
I'll add that the experience of the Beijing Olympics is very important for us. We will examine it carefully in light of the ongoing preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics we will host in Russia.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
The strategic partnership between Russia and China has become an absolutely important, positive factor in fostering regional and global security. Each of our countries is pursuing peaceful, flexible and pragmatic policies.
And our close cooperation allows us to strongly influence and ensure the balance of international relations, including in the Asia-Pacific region.
We are pleased that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in which both Russia and China play an active part is taking a leading position in this regard. The SCO has become an important factor for stability in the region, a factor promoting peace, security, and the development of multi-faceted economic and humanitarian partnership. Like China, Russia supports deepening dialogue in the SCO with interested countries and with multilateral organizations.
The attitudes of Russia and China towards building a just democratic world coincide or are close. Together we proceed from the primacy of international law, from its unconditional significance for our civilization, and we believe that the position and role of the United Nations in this system of relations is irreplaceable. Yes, we agree that the organisation can be modernised in accordance with the requirements of the time, but the aim of such modernisation should be to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations and enhance its capacities to respond to modern challenges and threats, rather than weaken the organisation or replace the UN with a surrogate organisation.
I repeat that we have something to offer global development and something to add to international experience. Both our countries are responsible for the sustainable development of the global economy and international cultural and educational spheres.
And, of course, Russia and China are united in their determination to take practical action to combat international terrorism in all its manifestations. And to do so both bilaterally and multilaterally.
I would like to conclude by once again underlining the increasing importance of science and knowledge in our world. As Lao Tzu has said: ”If I owned knowledge, then I would have a wide road ahead of me“.
Knowledege does more than directly promote progress. What is especially significant is that it unites people of different countries, nationalities and faiths. And it is fundamentally important for the development of modern societies, those defending a new way of life in a rapidly changing world.
We both know from experience how difficult these processes can be. And they require all of us, young citizens too, to show proof of will and character, as well as respect for the traditions and culture of one another. They require the closest possible communication and continuing the best aspects of our historical experience, the age-old relations of friendship and cooperation that exist between our two great peoples. I am sincerely glad that I came to visit you, to friendly China, on my first international trip.
I wish you new impressive successes and thank you for your attention.
Question: Mr President, I am a student at the faculty of Russian language and literature. You have made some really wonderful speeches. At the parade on May 9, you said that armed conflicts do not begin of their own accord but are lit by those who place their own irresponsible ambitions higher than the interests of entire countries and continents. We all know that China and Russia are strategic partners. In your opinion, what are the challenges confronting both countries in terms of defending peace throughout the world?
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. And I want to thank you for your excellent command of Russian. You are right, I did indeed say that armed conflicts do not flare up of their own accord but are set alight by irresponsible forces seeking to change the balance of power on the planet in pursuit of the own essentially selfish interests. In this respect, and this is something we spoke about yesterday with the Chinese leadership, we take the position that cooperation between Russia and China has become a key factor in international security and an absolutely essential factor in taking key decisions within the international cooperation framework. To speak frankly, not everyone may like the kind of strategic cooperation that exists between our countries, but we realise that this cooperation is in our peoples’ interests and we will make every effort to develop it further, whether others welcome this or not. We will continue to work in this direction, carrying out joint economic projects and expanding our humanitarian and cultural ties. Most important of all, we will try to get as many people as possible in both Russia and China involved in these projects.
Therefore, in reply to your question, I want to emphasise that one of the most important factors for maintaining stability in the world today is the relations between our two countries, and also the international organisations in which we participate, often taking a common position. Here, I am referring to the United Nations and the United Nations Security Council, in which we, as permanent members, bear particular responsibility for the world’s fate, and also our participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and in other international forums where we work together and where decisions often depend on our positions. Our work is unceasing. It is not directed at any other countries but aims to maintain the international balance, to give all countries the chance to pursue sustainable development and to take our people towards new horizons. Thank you.
Question: Mr President, I am a post-graduate student at the faculty of industrial chemistry. I noticed that in your speech you said scientific and technological innovation is the engine of progress. This year, you announced an innovation programme for science and technology. We in China have a similar programme for creating an innovative country. My question is, in your opinion, what role will the universities play in this innovation revolution?
Dmitry Medvedev: What role can I see universities playing? I come from a university background myself. I studied at university, taught in a university, as the rector was so kind to note, and I think that universities are a special hotbed of development of human civilisation, no matter where they are, in China, in Russia or in other countries. It is precisely the university environment that produces the biggest number of all kinds of new ideas. Universities have always been focal points for the development of human civilisation, in ancient times and in today’s world. I think that the role of universities in this sense will not change. The difference is that previously, universities usually focused more on pure knowledge, coming up with the philosophy for human development, while today they are often involved in various applied projects or are developing interesting new projects based on breakthrough fundamental research, and this is very important. It is this side of universities’ work that is developing most vividly today.
Universities become poles for not just purely scientific but also technological development. The inventions that come out of universities find later applications in industry. We all know that technology-parks often take shape around universities and transform knowledge into practical solutions. This is very important for humanity, for China and for Russia, because we all realise that the twenty-first century is an era of new technology, an era of innovation, and if we do not work on these issues, starting not even in the universities but right from the school classroom, we will end up on the sidelines of human civilisation. In this respect, China and Russia face the same challenge of working on new technology and turning our economy into a modern innovative and knowledge-based economy. Universities will play a key part in this work.
Question: I am doctor at the Institute of International Relations. Mr President, your first visit abroad was to Kazakhstan and China. You said a lot about the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. In your opinion, should these three countries – Russia, Kazakhstan and China – step up their cooperation in the SCO, and if yes, how exactly should they go about it?
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. In my reply to the first question I said that we work together in various international organisations, one of which is the SCO. This organisation’s potential is growing every year. This can be seen in the development of our cooperation in various projects within the organisation and in the desire a number of countries show in joining the SCO. I think there is much we can do to intensify our cooperation in the widest range of areas and in all the diverse projects that are part of our work in the SCO. I am thinking in particular of the several major energy projects, for example, that link Russia, Kazakhstan and China. We have every opportunity within the SCO for agreeing on new cooperation projects, including in the energy sector. We all realise that energy is an important part of our dialogue and is a very serious issue with global implications. I am referring to the trade in energy resources and to the subsequent processing of resources. I think that the bilateral cooperation between Russia and China, trilateral cooperation between Russia, China and Kazakhstan, and multilateral cooperation making use of the SCO’s potential all offer opportunities for carrying out major energy projects. We see how fast the Chinese economy is growing, how fast Russia’s economy is growing, and we realise that we will need additional energy sources in the future. We need to develop our own energy projects and develop projects for processing various energy resources – oil and gas — and also work on the electricity sector. We can make use of the potential the SCO offers in all of this work and in other projects too. I think that in this respect there will certainly be demand for the possibilities the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation offers. Thank you.