Nuclear and Aviation Deals on the Agenda for Russian Statesman’s China Visit

December 8, 2015 Updated: December 10, 2015

China and Russia will sign a number of nuclear energy, aviation, and space technology deals during an upcoming visit to China by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a Chinese official said on Dec. 8.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping gave no details about the deals to be signed. 

On Medvedev’s itinerary, which runs from Dec. 14 to Dec. 17, is a meeting between leaders from member states of the Russian and Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to be held in the city of Zhengzhou. The Russian prime minister will also visit Beijing and Hangzhou.

Though China has been a long-time customer of Russian technology, especially in the military field, the relationship has often been strained as the Kremlin is wary of Beijing’s propensity to reverse-engineer foreign technologies.

Last month, China ordered 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets from Russia in a $2 billion purchase. A related aircraft, the Su-27, entered the Chinese inventory in 1992. But when the Chinese began producing an indigenous copy, the J-11, the Russians backed down on other offers, such as an order of Tu-22M supersonic bombers.

The burgeoning Chinese industry has also seen significant assistance from Russian expertise. In the 1990s and 2000s, China built centrifuge facilities with parts supplied by Russia. Later, China reverse-engineered the Russian technology, allowing further procurements to be made by “buying local,” as one researcher put it.