Last Thursday (September 11), during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Meeting, the Russian President Vladimir Putin called for Russia, China and Mongolia to increase trilateral contacts and cooperate on joint projects in infrastructure, mining, and energy, which is codenamed in Mongolia as “Talyn Zam” or “Steppe Infrastructure” (in English.)
Specifically, Putin said: “The natural geographic proximity of Mongolia, Russia and China makes it possible for us to implement good long-term projects in infrastructure, the power sector and the mining industry. We have what to discuss with each other. Naturally, we deem it important, expedient and useful to start a permanent dialogue.”
The origin of the idea for a Russia-China-Mongolia trilateral cooperation on “Talyn Zam” is elaborated during the preparation the Chinese Chairman’s visit to Mongolia in August 2014, when the Mongolian side actively working on the negotiation. Sources could say that Minister Batbayar is masterminded the idea, because of his lead the team of the preparation for the visit. The idea was enriched by the Chinese side and later with Russians, which has a little passive reaction over the initiative. However, the Russian President promised to continue the dialogue in the future, namely until the 70th anniversary of Russia’s victory in the Second World War next year, where Xi and Elbegdorj are both invited. Even the Russian side invited the Mongolian armed force to take part in the military parade.
The whole idea was coincides with the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, proposed by Xi during his visit to Central Asia last year, eyes a revival of the ancient trade route linking China with Central Asia and Europe.
The three countries, Xi pointed out, can dovetail the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with Russia’s transcontinental rail plan and Mongolia’s Prairie Road program, and jointly build a China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor (Talyn Zam).
On building the corridor, Xi called on the three sides to strengthen traffic interconnectivity, facilitate cargo clearance and transportation, and study the feasibility of building a transnational power grid.
As part of the initiative, Xi also suggested that the three countries beef up cooperation in such areas as tourism, think tank, media, environmental protection, and disaster prevention and relief.
The three countries should deepen cooperation within the framework of the SCO, jointly safeguard regional security, and achieve common development, said the Chinese leader.
Founded in Shanghai in 2001, the SCO groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
China’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative offers important opportunities for trilateral cooperation, the Russian president said, calling on the three sides to combine their development plans and establish a long-term and stable cooperative relationship in the areas of energy, mining and transportation infrastructure construction.
As the Russian official suggested that SCO is expected to consider Mongolia as the next member of the organization, which is set to become a transport hub.
“We hope that the SCO will consider the issue of accepting new member states, including Mongolia. New members will receive aid to develop security,” Feng Noyzun said at the International Information Agency Rossiya Segodnya press conference.
“We will seek more innovative ways of collaboration. China, Russia and Kazakhstan have reached a lot of mutual understanding in Central Asia, the oil and gas pipelines are just the start of the partnership,” he said.
“For Mongolia, we need to see how it can become a transport hub in SCO, and how it could offer a new model of cooperation,” the Chinese expert added.
Chen Yu Zhu, who also heads the international relations institute, said expanding the SCO is important as it will lead to stronger influence of the organization on the international arena.
Andrei Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, said: “Mongolia’s membership is a prospect. Mongolia has its own keys to North Korea. So the SCO is not a war or economic bloc, but a more flexible, more functional organization. And that is why the Mongolian case is needed.”
The Chinese experts participated in the video link-up between Moscow and Beijing organized by the International Information Agency Rossiya Segodnya press center ahead of the SCO summit to be held in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe on September 11-12.
SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and military organization founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are currently observer members.