The construction site of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline in Heihe, Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province File photo: VCG

The China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline officially begins service on Monday. This is a major event in the promoted economic cooperation between Beijing and Moscow and diversifies Russia’s energy exports as well as China’s energy imports. It is an achievement of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era in the economic and trade field. 

With a total length of more than 8,000 kilometers, the pipeline is the longest natural gas pipeline in the world today. Negotiations alone over the project had been going on for 18 years. But after that, a fruitful result was quickly reached in the following years. Obviously, the process has been encouraged by the strengthening of China-Russia strategic mutual trust.

Once it starts to run at full capacity, the pipeline will be able to supply 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually to China. This accounts for 14 percent of natural gas that China consumed in 2018 and 28 percent of natural gas that China imported in the same year. 

Previously, Russian natural gas was mainly delivered to Europe. Russia was supposed not to be worried about relevant exports. However, large-scale US  exploitation of shale gas and rapid changes in global energy structure have gradually shaped a buyer’s market. Combined with the West’s sanctions against Russia, the latter’s natural gas exports to Europe face new   challenges. Opening up the Chinese market will greatly improve Russia’s status in negotiations with Europe. 

This is a win-win cooperation between Beijing and Moscow. Strengthening collaboration between the two not only creates substantial quantities of direct benefits, but also often plays a positive role of leverage in their third-party market cooperation.

The comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Russia will benefit the two peoples. To befriend a distant country and be hostile to neighbors has been the usual geopolitical pattern, which is quite common in Asia. In this context, China-Russia ties have set a good example. 

As mutual trust strengthens, the two countries will have more space for trade cooperation. Cross-border pipeline and bridge infrastructure improve the two sides’ all-round cooperation. This will probably structurally affect geo-economics in the entire region. 

The pipeline will economically energize the places it goes through in Russia. For China, many cities will enjoy clean energy from Russia, which will help the environment in Northeast and East China.

China is upholding people-centered development, an idea – if internationalized – that maximizes equal and mutually beneficial cooperation among countries. The pipeline benefits the two peoples. There should be more such pipelines and bridges in the world. The mind-set that hinders such projects should be history.