■ Shen Haixiong (L), president of the China Media Group, talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin (R). CCTV Photo

China Media Group president interviews Russian President Putin

[2018-06-08] - 7884人點閱
On May 31 at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down for an exclusive interview with Shen Haixiong, head of the China Media Group. 

This was the first interview the Russian president had ever given to the Chinese media at the Kremlin, and his first exclusive interview with any foreign media organization since beginning his new term in office. 

President Putin shared his impression of Chinese President Xi Jinping, his expectations for Russia-China relations, and the expanded Shanghai Cooperation Organization. He also answered questions regarding the Belt and Road Initiative, the ongoing situation on the Korean Peninsula, and the tensions between Russia and western countries. 

"President Putin, thank you for this interview with the China Media Group." 

"Firstly, I'd like to thank you for your interest in Russia. I’m also grateful to you for coming to meet me. I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to offer my best wishes to the Chinese people." 

"On May 7 you were sworn in as the president of Russia. For the inauguration, the China Media Group’s various media platforms provided live telecasts and coverage. I myself watched the live coverage. " 

"We are aware of our many friends in China. Their attention has demonstrated great interest in the inauguration and in Russia. I send my best regards to the Chinese people and I wish each and every Chinese family happiness and health!" 

At noon on May 7, inside the Kremlin, the inauguration of the president of the Russian Federation took place. As the clock began striking, Vladimir Putin passed through the St. George Hall and the St. Alexander Hall, before reaching the St. Andrew Hall, where he was met by Valery Zorkin, chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation. Having been handed the symbols of office, Putin officially became the president of the Russian Federation for a fourth, six-year term, after previously coming into office in 2000, 2004 and 2012. 

"For your fourth presidential inauguration, did you feel any difference compared with your previous inaugurations? " 

"As to my new term as the president of the Russian Federation, I think you’ve read about my remarks. Our top priorities will be the country’s sustainable development, continued economic growth, an innovation-driven economy, upgrading infrastructure, healthcare, education, and of course guaranteeing national security. This is something we’re working for, as a team. While adhering to international law and respecting our partners’ interests, we will meanwhile safeguard our own interests and pay close attention to our standing on the world stage. 

In this regard, I would like to point out that we’ve always stressed cooperation with our traditionally reliable partners, allies and friends, which, without doubt, includes the People’s Republic of China." 
On March 1, 2018, President Putin, during his third term in office, delivered the State of the Nation address to the Federation Council and State Duma. The speech came later than usual, as according to political convention the Russian president delivers the State of the Nation address at the end of each year. The two-hour long speech, delivered just before the presidential election, was viewed by observers as Putin's fourth-term presidential campaign manifesto. He took the opportunity to call on Russians to strive to action, assume their responsibilities and create together the Russia of their dreams. 

"I’ve noticed that since the State of the Nation address this year, you have talked about your “Dream of Russia” on several occasions. Right now the Chinese people are working hard to realize the Chinese Dream envisioned by President Xi Jinping. What does your “Dream of Russia” share with the “Chinese Dream”? " 

"Russia and China are neighbors. Through centuries of mutual dialogues and interactions, we’ve formed a profound historical bond and strong foundation. Indeed the relationship is based on our mutual interests. 

As you know, in 2001 we’ve signed the treaty of friendship, which has supplied the essential foundation for the towering edifice of our current bilateral ties. Each year this great building has been renewing itself and has seen new floors added and has its structure continuously strengthened. This has not been a matter of luck. 

Now, let me quote President Xi Jinping’s speech at the 19th CPC National Congress. What’s the most important part? How did the Chinese president put it? It is to improve our people’s lives. There are many ways and manners to achieve this, but the goal is the same. In Russia, except to improve the living standards of our citizens, there’s no other goal. For this purpose, we’ve been studying how to build Russia’s relations with China, how to accomplish our objectives and guarantee external security, how to encourage innovation, the digital economy and genetic technologies, how to build a modern harmonious society and nation, and how to improve our economic governance and foster the new economy. Therefore we have a great deal in common. I’m confident that our efforts will bring fresh achievements."

Summit diplomacy plays a vital strategic role in the development of relations between nations. In recent years, guided and promoted by Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Putin, China-Russia relations have reached a historical high. Following President Xi's state visit to Russia in March 2013, the two have met frequently. Their encounters have included state visits and bilateral meetings on the sidelines of major international summits. Over the past five years, Presidents Xi and Putin have met on more than 20 occasions – five times in 2017 alone. On July 4, 2017, in Moscow, President Putin presented President Xi with Russia's highest state honor, the Order of St. Andrew. SHEN HAIXIONG
"In the past year, you’ve held the most meetings with China’s national leaders and talked with President Xi Jinping on five separate occasions. People in China were especially impressed when you presented President Xi with Russia’s highest Order of St Andrew. Can you tell us about your impression of President Xi?" 

You know, this is awkward to talk about. It relates to my private views and our personal relationship. Perhaps President Xi is the only national leader who has celebrated my birthday with me. I’ve never had such a relationship or arrangement with any other foreign colleague, but I did it with President Xi. Actually that birthday celebration was rather simple; I’ve talked about it in public and there’s nothing secret. To tell the truth, we just had some vodka together and carved some sausage. I don’t know if he will be upset with me for saying this. It was after a full day’s work and then President Xi came for my birthday. It’s a bit of a digression, but to talk about President Xi, I would like to start with it. 

He is approachable and sincere. But he’s also a very dependable man to work with. To be sure, when we talk about a certain matter, I would approach it from my standpoint and I understand he would approach it from his standpoint. Both would try to fulfil his respective duties. This is the first point. 
Secondly, to be honest, like leaders of other countries, he would do his best to maximize what he could achieve for the benefits of his people. 

He is a remarkable thinker who likes to analyze problems. It’s very interesting to talk with him about issues regarding world affairs and economy. So, as far as I’m concerned, he is an appropriate partner and a good friend I can count on." 

From June 6 to 10, President Xi and President Putin will meet again; this time in Qingdao, China, where the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit will be held. This is the second time, after Beijing in 2012, that the summit will take place in China, where the SCO was inaugurated. It’s also the first SCO summit to be held since its membership was expanded. 

"In just a few days, you will head for Qingdao to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit, and also pay a state visit to China. Now, as the SCO embraces more member states, it will need more power and efficiency in execution. So how can we achieve that? " 

"The Shanghai Cooperation Organization used to be a low-profile organization when it was first established. It was primarily aimed at solving border issues between China, Russia and the former Soviet Union members. 

As I mentioned, our objective was quite small. But as we worked together on these small issues, we found similarities between us. We realized that together we could achieve something bigger, grander, other than solving border issues. 

The SCO has developed. Obviously it has become a more global organization after India and Pakistan officially joined the group. In fact, the SCO member states account for one fourth of the world's GDP, 43 per cent of the international population and 23 per cent of global territory. These are very substantial and huge resources. Plus, we have seen Asia’s economic growth accelerated, especially with China and India making big strides forward. Russia will also provide momentum for new growth to keep up the pace.In addition, there’s our military potential... Of course, we are not raising rivalries against anyone. This is simply a necessary condition to ensure multilateral cooperation between the member states and other countries, no matter which continent these countries are on. 

Uniting these strong powers will undoubtedly become an important factor for our development, and one that could influence the world, in a positive way, I believe. " 

"Qingdao is a beautiful coastal city. It is well known for its seafood and beer, would you care to try? " 

"Sure, I would love to. I like seafood and beer, but I will try not to drink too much. I would like to have a taste and I will do so." 

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was established in Shanghai 17 years ago, on June 14, 2001. It has grown from its original six member states to an organization comprising eight member and four observer states, along with six dialogue partners. The SCO has won worldwide recognition by championing international relations based on mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation. This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the “One Belt One Road” initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Most of the SCO member states, observer states and dialogue partners lie along the ancient Silk Road and share the Silk Road heritage. Therefore, how the SCO can coordinate its activities effectively with the “One Belt One Road” initiative will be a focus of the Qingdao Summit. 

"It has been five years since President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative. President Xi said that he raised the initiative in order to create a common community with a shared future for mankind. So what is your understanding on this practice for a global well-being? "

"We have always been a firm supporter to this initiative. President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative incorporates concepts of the economy and humanity. The essence of the initiative is to develop both the economy and infrastructure. We think the Belt and Road Initiative is a beneficial and promising initiative. It matches our efforts to establish an alliance in the Eurasian economy. 
On May 17th, China and the Eurasian Economic Union signed deals on economic and trade cooperation in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana. This agreement not only touches on issues such as lowering tariffs, but also involves other important matters, including policies on trade and technology, as well as plant quarantine measures. In fact, it was a significant step for further eliminating restrictions on economic development and cooperation. 

And we believe that President Xi’s initiative has a wider global vision in boosting cooperation and development for all countries and continents, for Russia’s initiative is focusing on integration in Eurasian economic development. I think the two initiatives will produce better results if working together and we recognize the importance in doing so. For instance, in infrastructure, we know that our Chinese partners are very interested in the Northern Sea Route and we welcome that. 
But that is only one of the directions in our cooperation.

China and Russia have great plans in industrial cooperation as well as constructing railway infrastructure. The cooperation prospects are tremendous and promising. They will also lay a sound foundation for boosting future cooperation. 

China is Russia’s biggest trading partner. Last year, the total trade volume between the two countries reached 87 billion US dollars, and the growth of last year's first four months was equivalent to the total growth of the previous year. That was very good momentum and we need to maintain it and boost it. " 

On the day when he took the oath of office – May 7 – Vladimir Putin signed a presidential order establishing the national development goals and strategic tasks in the social, economic, educational and scientific fields that Russia aimed to achieve by 2024.

The presidential order stated that the Russian government will halve the number of people living in poverty, increase real incomes and pensions, and maintain economic growth at a rate higher than inflation. The average life expectancy of Russians would rise from 73 years in 2016 to over 80 by 2029.

The Russian media summarized these indicators set out by Putin in a single phrase: “For Russians to live longer and better.” It was also significant that the presidential order stressed that Russia’s expenditure on developing the digital economy would increase threefold by 2024. 

"I am very impressed by your latest policy agenda on the Russian people’s livelihood and the country’s digital economy development. In what fields can Russia and China conduct in-depth cooperation?" 

"It is indeed a major direction for development. As we know, President Xi and the Chinese government made tremendous efforts in economic modernization, as well as boosting development in prospective sectors such as the digital economy. There is no doubt that it is closely related to future technological developments, including automation and artificial intelligence. 

In today’s world, innovations, especially those with great potential, all happen in science and technology. In the fields of biology, genetics and others, scientists and technological personnel will be the world’s leading forces. While we join efforts with our Chinese friends in the new areas, cooperation in the traditional fields will also continue. 

We have conducted intensive studies in these areas, and we have plans and intentions to cooperate with China. We know that China has garnered remarkable results in the Internet of Things and E-commerce. However, it is not enough for Russia and China to work together to pursue short-term development.

We should also work together to develop such sectors as digital technology, manufacturing, infrastructure, energy and alternative energy. Then, we can not only utilize the results from scientific researches, but also convert the results into new driving forces to produce more results. If we can achieve this, then we will unquestionably become world leaders in these areas. And we are set to work towards that end. " 

While domestic affairs concern people's sense of worth and happiness, foreign affairs concern their sense of security. In recent years, President Putin has been striving to ensure the security of the Russian people, from Chechnya to South Ossetia, from Crimea to Syria. His tough stance on security issues is obvious to all. As a result, the Russian people now feel safer.

However, the security risks have not been completely eradicated. Economic sanctions, military containment, and regional power-plays have become serious areas of contention between Russia and the major western countries. Since the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, the United States and Europe have imposed economic sanctions on Russia. In particular, since President Trump took office last year, the White House has unleashed a series of sanction storms. All-in-all, the external environment for Russia has become more and more problematic. 

"Dialogue and cooperation as equals is a wish for many, but you have been facing a tough challenge, that is the economic sanctions on Russia by western countries, as well as other pressure tactics. Where do you think relations between Russia and western countries will be headed next?" 

"I am hoping for a positive relationship. But we are not surprised nor scared by current limitations and sanctions, and we will never give up the path of independence and sovereignty. 

My point of view is: Russia should either be a sovereign state or not exist at all. Of course, the Russian people will always choose the first option. I think the Chinese people would make the same choice.We have no other choice. But we are aware that through those limitations and sanctions, our companions have been trying to achieve one goal, that is to restrain our development. 

I have no doubt that this attempt, in the legal sense, is called "impossibility defense is an affirmative defense". None of these will have an effect! Those who will suffer loss will be the ones who play tricks. I believe common sense will finally win. And all those illegal limitations and policies that will hurt the development of the world economy will gradually dispel. We will normalize our relations with all cooperative partners, including the US, and countries that imposed sanctions on us under the thumb of the US. 

By the way, as I said, those countries who followed America's actions, have suffered loss themselves from the US decision. I am not taking pleasure in others' misfortunes nor am I sneering. But it has been proven that these means are not at all potent. It will hurt everyone sooner or later, including those who carried them out. Above all, I hope our relations with western countries can be normalized in some way." 

Even though the relations between Russia and the West are at almost their lowest point in history, Russia has played a key role in resolving many international disputes. The country became involved in the Syrian conflict in 2015. On the day of this interview, the Russian foreign minister was visiting the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, where he held a brief meeting with the country's leader, Kim Jong Un. During their talks, Sergey Lavrov said that Russia hopes to see a peaceful, stable and prosperous Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. 

"Though the situation is still not very clear, there have been some positive changes this year in some international hotspots, such as the Korean Peninsula and Syria. What kind of role does Russia hope to play in solving international disputes? And what kind of cooperation can major powers, China and Russia, have?" 

"On the DPRK issue, as our diplomats had said, our position on both sides is very close or completely consistent. It is the latter, to be exactly. We have put forward a roadmap to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue. The People's Republic of China has done a lot of work recently to ease regional tensions. We are pleased to see this and it will be fully supported. 

As you know, the Russian foreign minister is visiting Pyongyang and holding talks with DPRK leaders. 
We can also see that the DPRK leadership have made unprecedented efforts to ease tensions, which honestly surprised me. On one hand, they announced the suspension of missile tests and nuclear tests. Furthermore, they have dismantled one of the biggest nuclear sites. These are no doubt important steps to our final goal of denuclearization. 

When DPRK leaders said they need an absolute security guarantee to reach the goal of denuclearization, I can understand. Is there any way else? Otherwise, we cannot imagine the consequences, especially after the tragedies in Libya and Iraq. All this has been visible before the DPRK's eyes. So it is self-evident that they want the guarantee. As for the content of the guarantee, and the time limit to carry it out, it is still hard to say. But what we can say and what we should say is that we need to take the road of easing the situation to achieve denuclearization.

It is regretful that our western companions, and regrettably South Korea, have not stopped drills and military actions, which go against easing the pressure. It is a wise and mature decision by US President Donald Trump to have direct contacts with DPRK leader Kim Jong Un.

Anyway, I hope the planned summit can be held and we are looking forward to a positive outcome of the summit. I just mentioned the roadmap by China and Russia to resolve the DPRK issue, and the next step is to deepen relations among those countries who helped ease the Korean Peninsula situation. 

The next step is that all countries who are interested, especially those in this region, can multilaterally participate in the formulation of a security guarantee. Of course, as I always suggested, and what we are currently doing is the negotiation of trilateral economic projects. Coming first are infrastructure projects. We are talking about railway construction projects, such as the inter-Korean railway, which by the way, can also be joined by China.

And also the building of natural gas pipelines, as well as other kinds of energy projects. There will be a lot of opportunities for trilateral or quadrilateral cooperation. What we need now is to push forward in this direction. We are all looking forward to the outcome of the dialogue between US President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un. And we will try our best to contribute to the success of the meeting." 

As President of Russia, Vladimir Putin enjoys widespread popularity in China. Prior to this exclusive interview, China Radio International, part of the China Media Group, co-hosted an event with Rossiya Segodnya, under the title, "Who’s a Fan of Putin?" Within a week, as many as ten million Chinese internet users had responded. CCTV New Media launched a page to collect questions to be put to President Putin. Within a few days, the page had attracted 24 million views and received over 40,000 messages. 

"Russia is the host of this year's FIFA World Cup. So what do you expect from team Russia?" 

"I think as the host, our first priority is to do our best to put on a great show, to make it a fantastic festival for soccer fans from around the world. That is going to be our top goal. 
As for team Russia, I'm sorry but I have to admit that it hasn't been doing so well in recent years. But still, all the fans in Russia are looking forward to seeing the team try their best and fight till the end. We hope the team can deliver modern, fun and also fantastic games for the audiences." 

"Which team do you think will be the champion this time?" 

"It's hard to tell. Several countries have a fair shot. For example, I think Argentina and Brazil from the Latin America Group both have a shot."

"Would you go and kick off the opening game?" 

"I will be watching the first game. As the president of the host country, I will attend both the opening and closing ceremonies. And I will definitely check my schedule and see if I can catch some other games." 

"Who's your favorite soccer player?" 

"Among all Russian players, I like Lev Yashin who is the best. He's from the former Soviet Union. Internationally, Pelé has been my favorite. I also like Maradona a lot." 

"The public has always known that you love sports. what kind of sports do you still do? And how much time do you spend?" 
"I work out two to two-and-a-half hours everyday, mostly in the gym using fitness equipment or swimming. I would also do some judo when there's a trainer around. I play hockey, but only occasionally. I can't say I completely know how to play because I'm still trying to learn." 

"We often see you on TV, flying jets and steering submarines. Back in China, people say you could be a star on the Internet if you weren't the President. So what would you be doing if not working in politics?" 

"I used to work in the foreign intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union. And now I have this career as a president. Actually, I graduated from law school in St. Petersburg University, so I could be a legal adviser, or a lawyer. However, I worked for national security departments my whole life.

I went on to work at the city hall of St. Petersburg after the intelligence job in the Soviet Union. I truly loved those jobs. But in the meantime, I believe I am also qualified to be a lawyer." 

"You brought a box of Russian ice cream to China when you were in Hangzhou G20 two years ago... very popular. So what are you planning to bring  this year?" 

"I will definitely bring something, that's for sure.

I brought some ice cream as a present to President Xi, because he said he loved Russian ice cream. We exchanged gifts. But it would not be a surprise if I talk about that on television what I'm going to give President Xi as a present this time. So for now, I would like to keep it a secret, but I could tell you later in private." 

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