Russia-China Gas Pact Stirs Dream of Bridge Across Amur

Russia’s $400 billion deal to pipe natural gas across the border to China has rekindled Wu’s hope that the two nations will finally build a bridge across the frontier to bring a steady stream of customers to her door.

“They’ve been talking about a bridge for so many years,” said Wu, a 40-year-old mother of two who’s worked along the frontier for more than 20 years. “If the border trade is developed properly, we can prosper.”

The May 21 conclusion of gas-pact talks that started a decade ago reflects President Vladimir Putin’s tilt toward Asia as relations sour with the U.S. and Europe over Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. They also show China, the world’s biggest commodities consumer, looking past a historical conflict to engage Russia amid territorial disputes with neighbors including Japan and Vietnam.

“They had a very difficult breakup in the early 1960s — they had a border war in 1969,” said Joerg Wuttke, president of the Beijing-based European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. “It’s amazing how much they’ve fixed that up.”

Military ties have also improved. The Russian and Chinese navies last month held joint drills near islands controlled by Japan and claimed by the government in Beijing.

The Russia-China Investment Fund reaffirmed plans on May 19 to construct a railway bridge about 450 kilometers (280 miles) southeast of Heihe, buoying the city’s hopes. It will be the first bridge linking the countries across the Amur.

Investment Vehicle

The fund, which is a partnership of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and China Investment Corp., also plans to create an $800 million vehicle to invest in tourism and senior housing in both countries.

“It’s a clinical fact” that China is on its way to becoming the world’s biggest economy, Putin said on a televised call-in show on April 17. Russia’s ties with China will be a “significant factor” in international relations, he said.

Full article: Russia-China Gas Pact Stirs Dream of Bridge Across Amur (BloombergBusinessweek)

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