In what can be seen as a step to firm up the energy cooperation with Moscow, which is reeling under US and EU sanctions over Ukraine crisis, China has begun the construction of the 3,968-km long gas pipeline which will pump 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia's far east to Shanghai.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev joined Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli in a televised inauguration ceremony that was held simultaneously in Beijing, Moscow and the border city of Heihe in northeast China yesterday. Zhang said the Chinese side is ready to work with the Russian side to ensure that the pipeline will be completed and put into operation on schedule in 2018.
The pipeline, extending from gas fields in Russia's Far East to Shanghai, is designed to transport 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia to China every year. In a speech at the ceremony, Zhang said the East Route gas pipeline is the largest China-Russia cooperative project conducive to diversifying energy strategy and guaranteeing the energy security of both countries.
In last September, construction started on the Russian section of the East Route pipeline, also known in Russia as the Power of Siberia pipeline. Zhang said the two sides should advance long-term cooperation on oil, natural gas pipelines, gas development and integration of coal mining, power generation and transmission.
He said the two sides should expand all-round cooperation in investment, manufacturing capacity, finance, high-speed rail, agriculture and development of Far East region as Beijing looked to advance its ties with Moscow whose economy is struggling in the face of sanctions imposed by US and EU following Russia's annexation of Crimea.
He said the two sides should also integrate China's Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with development of the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union in a bid to achieve more fruits in bilateral cooperation for the benefit of the two peoples, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Medvedev said through a tele-conference that the Russia- China East Route natural gas pipeline was one of the world's largest energy projects and a symbol of the high level of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries.
He said the gas pipeline will help propel economic and social development and lift people's living standards in regions along its route in the two countries. He said the Russian side is ready to further expand all dimensional cooperation with China so as to promote the common development and prosperity of the two countries.