Huawei is to build Russia’s first 5G wireless network after it struck a deal with MTS during President; Xi’s visit to Moscow and St Petersburg last week. Xi and his new ‘best friend’ and Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin watched and applauded as Huawei’s Rotating Chairman Guo Ping and MTS President Alexei Kornya shook hands in a development that is the latest indication that the trade war instigated by Trump is pushing China and Russia further into a ‘marriage of convenience’.
The MTS deal would not only create “the commercial use of 5G networks in Russia in the very near future, but also contribute to the further development of economic ties between Russia and China”, Kornya said at the signing. Xi’s words will have done nothing to dispel those fears, either. “Since 2013, President Putin and I have met nearly 30 times on bilateral and multilateral occasions, and talked on the phone and written to each other many times. I keep fond memories of each interaction I had with President Putin,” he said.
For Xi, it will also be a vindication of his Belt & Road initiative; the number of trains carrying freight between the Sichuan capital of Chengdu and Moscow trebled in the first four months of 2019 according to the Chinese authorities, with the value of transported cargo reaching $160m, a year-on-year rise of 1,348%. On their westward journey trains carry fruit and vegetables, vehicles and clothing and return with cargos of Russian timber, candy, pulp, and other goods.
Altogether the State-owned China Railway Corporation now runs 65 regular freight routes between Asia and Europe, with the main routes including Chongqing to Duisburg, Zhengzhou to Hamburg, Suzhou to Warsaw, Yiwu to Madrid, Shenyang to Hamburg, Changsha to Hamburg, Daqing to Zeebrugge, Xiamen to Moscow, Nanjing to Moscow, and Tianjin to Minsk. They mainly carry mobile phones, computers, clothing, cosmetics and small commodities on their outward journey, and car parts, machinery, food and liquors, electronics, and wood on the way back. China’s Ministry of Commerce said that the two sides were now aiming to increase the volume of bi-lateral trade between the two countries to US $200bn a year following last year’s rise of 24.5% rise saw them reach a record level US $108bn over the course of 2018.