Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Yeltsin, Jiang Hail Blossoming Relationship

BEIJING -- President Boris Yeltsin wrapped his Chinese counterpart Jiang Zemin in a bear-hug in Beijing on Wednesday at the start of a visit that both leaders hailed as signalling a new spring between the giant neighbors.

"Now spring's warmth has come to Beijing, the flowers are blossoming and you can feel spring everywhere," Jiang told Yeltsin after the official welcoming ceremony. "This is a good sign for the further development of our relations."

Yeltsin's three-day visit, during which he will sign a flurry of agreements, marks the highest point in relations since the Sino-Soviet communist alliance of the 1950s.

"Relations are at the best they've been since the early years of China's communist government," said one Western diplomat, referring to the close Sino-Soviet ties of the 1950s that broke down with a freeze and border clashes in the 1960s.

Speaking after greeting Communist party chief Jiang with a bear-hug outside the Stalinist-style Great Hall of the People, Yeltsin echoed Jiang's enthusiasm, saying: "I believe this visit will definitely be a complete success."

Yeltsin, whose honeymoon with the West has soured over NATO plans to expand toward Russia's borders, was keen to ensure all was well on his Far East frontier with no time-bombs ticking in ties with China, his aides said.

Jiang and Yeltsin greeted each other as old friends, and Yeltsin presented the chief of the largest surviving communist government with a Russian version of the book, "My Father, Deng Xiaoping," by the paramount leader's daughter, Xiao Rong.

However, Western diplomats said the hug under billowing Russian and Chinese flags did not herald a new Sino-Russian axis because the two still harbored deep mutual suspicions.

Yeltsin, who last week met U.S. President Bill Clinton and hosted a summit of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations that backed a nuclear test ban, has said he would take the opportunity to invite China to join the ban.

But Beijing said Tuesday it was not yet time to close the door on peaceful nuclear explosions, seeming to back away from commitments to join a test ban from the end of this year. It wants to carry out two more underground explosions by the end of 1996.

Yeltsin, who has so far failed to win full G-7 membership for Russia, said before leaving Moscow he had been authorized by its members to discuss the test ban issue with China. The nuclear issue was unlikely to spoil the festive mood set on the first day of a visit postponed several times since last year because of Yeltsin's health problems.

Yeltsin is accompanied by a bevy of top ministers and will oversee signing of up to 14 agreements, ranging from trade deals and nuclear energy cooperation to a partnership to fight crime.

Among the most important is a declaration that would include a joint stand on major regional and international problems and a pact among China, Russia and the three ex-Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan on confidence-building measures along their common borders.

Yeltsin was almost certain to try to remove controversy over demarcation of the 4,300 kilometer Sino-Russian border, a move that has sparked protests from an influential regional official in Russia's Far East.

He has said demarcation would go ahead despite protests by governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko of the Primorsky region, who says China is receiving too much land under the 1991 agreement.

The president's aides said Yeltsin would try to win some additional favors from Beijing, such as the right for Russian farmers to continue to use land that stretches into China.

Yeltsin also said during a stopover in Khabarovsk on Wednesday that Russia would not agree to give up three border islands -- a clear bid to win sympathies of local voters.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more