Power of Siberia connecting Russia and China

The new 1,800-mile-long Power of Siberia pipeline project has finally been completed. The pipeline is, notably, the most significant energy project for Russia ever since the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Earlier this month, the leaders of the two countries launched the $55bln-worth gas pipeline which will transport natural gas from Russia’s northern Siberia to China’s northeastern territories.

The pipeline of ultimate length of 5,000 miles will enable China to import up to 5 bln cubic meters of natural gas in 2020 with the volume to possibly reach 38 bln cubic meters by 2024 which will help China to improve its unstable economic condition in a long term perspective.

“China and Russia are at a crucial stage in their national development, and our relations are entering a new phase as well,” President of China Xi Jinping said, adding, “I hope that our countries will continue working to create even more landmark projects like the Chinese-Russian gas pipeline in the interests of our countries and to the benefit of our peoples.”

The great significance of the project is due to the fact that China’s northeastern region is still heavily relying on coal, and the situation will presumably change completely, thanks to the natural gas supplies from Russia. With the new gas pipeline in operation, it is expected the overall usage of gas in China will grow by 10% in 2020 and by further 15% by 2024.

Even though it wasn’t always this way between the two neighboring countries, today both nations are being tied together by economic and political challenges they are facing in dealing with the West.

Therefore, the new pipeline project might be much more than just an energy supplier. It can also help Russia and China to substantially mitigate the impact of sanctions and ever-increasing tariffs, respectively. China will be able to carry on with its Belt and Road initiative, while Russia will get an opportunity to accumulate more hard currency in exchange for its oil and gas resources.

Back in June, Chinese president Xi Jinping called Putin his ‘best friend’, which can be regarded as a sign of a potential friendship to come. However, this seemingly tight friendship can be put to the test this week by the NATO summit taking place in London to celebrate the alliance’s 70th anniversary. That might be the case because Donald Trump will most probably try to persuade NATO that it is China that is the alliance’s challenge, not Russia.

However, there are many NATO members who are reluctant to go along with that assertion, and it is unlikely that the alliance is eager to abandon its longtime focus on Russia as its number one antagonist.

By Natalia Revishvili,

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