Dmitry Medvedev's online news conference in Beijing

The Prime Minister answered questions via the online edition of the People's Daily Online (Renminwang).

Online conference in Beijing

Online conference in Beijing

Dmitry Medvedev’s online news conference with Chinese internet users took place at the headquarters of the People’s Daily Online, part of the People’s Daily Group (Renmin Ribao). The news conference was broadcast on the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency website for Russian users.

This format was chosen to mark Dmitry Medvedev’s conference that took place ten years ago at the Rossiya Segodnya headquarters (then RIA Novosti) in Moscow, partnered by the Chinese media holding, Renmin Ribao. 

Dmitry Medvedev’s online conference

Excerpts from the transcript:

Dmitry Medvedev’s online conference in Beijing

Online conference in Beijing

Anchor (via interpreter): China and Russia are good neighbours, friends and partners. Ten years ago, on 2 February 2007 Mr Medvedev (then the First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Government) talked from Moscow with Chinese internet users through our website. Now, ten years on, Prime Minister Medvedev is our guest and will talk to our internet users about the deepening of relations between China and Russia as well as the consolidation of our friendship. Welcome Mr Prime Minister.

Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon.

Anchor: We thank you for being our guest again. The announcement about this event has evoked interest from our users. Right now we have collected 1,200 questions. Our users are very active. Today’s interview will be broadcast live with the help of our venue – website Renminwang. The Rossiya Segodnya Russian news agency will also broadcast live the event. Let’s see the questions.  

Here is a question about the 19th congress. The 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China ended quite recently. It was a big event. Xi Jinping was reelected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. You sent him greetings on this occasion. He set forth a new thesis about the start of a new era of socialism with Chinese specific characteristics. One of our users asked about your opinion of the results of this congress.

Dmitry Medvedev: I would like to say a very good afternoon to everyone who is watching this meeting. I am glad to have this opportunity to talk with you, dear friends, at the offices of the People’s Daily media holding and its online platform, People’s Daily Online or Renminwang.

Regarding the first question I have received, the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China is a vastly important event in the life of the People’s Republic of China. More than that, it is an event that surpasses the scale of China because it is a very special congress that has been convened to map out the development of China’s future. We in Russia watched it very closely and took note of its results.

Russia and China maintain very good and I would even say special relations not only at state level, where our relations can be described as strategic partnership and cooperation, but also at the level of our parties. When Mr Xi Jinping was re-elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, United Russia, which I have the honour to chair, immediately sent its greetings to the President of China. I was happy to do this, especially considering that our parties have been fostering dialogue and cooperation over the past 12 years, and that we maintain interaction not only at state level but also between our parties.

Speaking about the results of the 19th Congress, I would like to say that we have taken note of their strategic nature as well as of the consolidation of Chinese society around the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the leader of the People’s Republic of China. It is obvious that it will take a very long time to implement the prospects opened at the congress, in particular, the transitioning to a new stage in social development, which is referred to as socialism with Chinese characteristics. We are aware of the importance of these statements and goals. We strongly hope that these goals that have been set out at the congress will be achieved. We wish our Chinese friends, the leaders of the Communist Party of China and President of the People’s Republic of China Mr Xi Jinping every success in the implementation of the decisions taken at the congress.

Anchor: Thank you for your kind words. You have said that you followed the 19th Congress. What part of it was especially important for you?

Dmitry Medvedev: Several moments were important for us. It is clear that we would like to continue the course we have been pursuing in recent years by developing a multi-faceted dialogue, an equal dialogue between our countries, as well as strategic partnership. The decisions of the Congress, as I see them, are the best confirmation of that, because there is continuity in the goals which were set last time, as well as new horizons. Of course, we also see the decisions of the Congress from the perspective of the development of Russia-China relations. We believe that all is well in this sense, and the prospects outlined by the Congress inspire us.

Anchor: Let’s turn to other issues. We have a question from a user who talked to you 10 years ago. He would like to know, what are the most significant changes in today’s China compared to what you saw 10 years ago?

Dmitry Medvedev: I see changes every time I visit China. I remember my first visit, which took place in 2000, when I visited the capital, Beijing, for the first time, and I can compare it to this year. The People’s Republic of China, all the places I’ve visited, continue to shock me, in a good way, because they show very rapid and large-scale development on all fronts. Wherever I go – the capital or various provinces I’ve visited recently (these were very interesting places where various events were held, and some have a very historical character and some are large cities that were recently constructed) – all these places have inspired me with their development rates and the improvement which can be seen throughout the whole of China. The development of transport arteries, the construction of modern buildings, both residential and commercial, and the development of general infrastructure – all of that cannot help but inspire and gladden. I think these are major achievements which have taken place during these years and which you can be proud of. It is really a very good, very inspiring example.

At the same time, a lot of attention is paid to historic landmarks. When we were holding a joint conference on the internet and I met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuzhen, I could not help admiring the beauty of this small but very nice historical town, where you can get a taste of Chinese history. At the same time, it is a very good and modern tourism centre. In this sense, I discover something new every time I visit the People’s Republic of China. Even today, while I was going through the streets of Beijing, I saw new buildings as well as some elements of a new atmosphere of this large city, although I had been here just recently.

So, I think the changes are significant, but, at the same time, you managed to preserve your best traditions. 

More and more Chinese tourists are coming to Russia, and they all have a question on a very specific topic: is Russia thinking about easing visa requirements for Chinese tourists?

Dmitry Medvedev: Last year, some 1.2 million Chinese tourists visited Russia, and in the first six months of 2017 we saw an increase of about 20 percent.

We recently provided new visa options. One of them is to enter Russian territory through Russia’s Far East, in Vladivostok, by using an electronic visa. Instead of visiting various agencies and queuing, all you have to do to obtain a visa is to fill out a form. This visa is valid for 30 days with a period of stay of up to eight days.

There is another option currently in place as well whereby a person can arrive without a visa, if travelling with a tourist group of five or more people and staying in Russia for up to two weeks.

We intend to expand this option in the near future. The Russian Government is currently reviewing a document reducing the size of the group (three tourists or more) and extending the period of stay to three weeks.

These are special provisions for Chinese tourists, and nobody else.

Anchor: Russia will host the FIFA World Cup next year. We have a question from one of our users: will there be any benefits for football fans?

Dmitry Medvedev: We are now hard at work preparing for the World Cup. This is not an easy task, since it will take place in a number of cities. This is a major project that is about to be completed.

Russia hosted the FIFA Confederations Cup not that long ago as a prelude to the World Cup. It can be viewed as a mini World Cup, since there are fewer host cities involved. We are ready.

Football fans will be able to move from one World Cup host city to another without any restrictions or problems using their Fan IDs. This identification document serves multiple purposes, starting from entering Russia. Its holders will be able to enter Russia 10 days before the World Cup actually begins, throughout the tournament and 10 days after it ends. No visas will be required. All that people have to do is go through the registration process for obtaining a Fan ID. After that, they will be entitled to a package of services, which include among other things, free public transit in the World Cup host cities, including fixed route taxis.

To a certain extent, we have taken an unprecedented step, considering that Russia is a large country and even World Cup host cities are far and wide apart: we will launch special trains to enable football fans to follow their team from one city to another. These trains will be free too. Only one requirement is needed and that’s to fill out the relevant forms to get a ticket.

I’m not even going to bother to mention any of the more trivial services like of course free WiFi, and the many other benefits that football fans will be entitled to.

Anchor: What Chinese technologies and investments does Russia welcome?

Dmitry Medvedev: We have very strong investment cooperation with our Chinese colleagues. Recently, we have established a special format, which is an investment commission headed by the first deputy prime ministers of our countries. A large number of projects which are worth tens of billions of dollars have been selected. They focus primarily on high technology and digital economy. In this sense, we are following a common path, trying to develop the latest and innovative spheres of our life.

Speaking about online services, a significant portion of such services, including e-commerce and online commerce, is related to products that are made in China, in particular, the services are used which are provided from your country. Now, we need to think about how to develop the logistics, how to make it more convenient for large numbers of customers, because the market for such services is growing every day across the world. The online market in Russia is measured in trillions of roubles, but this is still only a small fraction of what can be obtained in the future.

There are a number of areas related to high technology where we enjoy advanced cooperation, including nuclear energy, space and aircraft construction. We have good projects and enjoy significant successes. I hope that all our plans will come to fruition.

This area is currently one of the most important areas of our cooperation.

Speaking about cooperation with China in the sphere of economy, this cooperation has picked up a fairly good pace in recent years. Even despite the economic crisis of 2008 and the recent issues in the global economy, this cooperation is still on the rise. Compared to last year when we observed an increase in mutual trade by about 4 percent, our trade is up by 35 percent for the first eight months of this year. This is a very good figure. We hope that these figures will continue into the future. These figures mean jobs, services and goods that we deliver from Russia to China and from China to Russia. In fact, this is what economic growth is all about.

Anchor: If Chinese investment comes to Russia, what benefits will it enjoy?

Dmitry Medvedev: In the past few years we have been trying to encourage foreign investment, including from our big friend and neighbour – the People’s Republic of China ­­ –  in particular to the Russian Far East (not only to the Far East but understandably it is in close contact with nearby Chinese provinces). This is why we are using a number of new forms of cooperation – technology parks, agro-industrial parks and technology clusters that we are forming to develop cooperation in high-tech areas.

There is yet another form that we have recently introduced, incorporating, among other things, the experience of China and some other Asia-Pacific countries. I am referring to priority socio-economic development areas. We are forming them in the Far East and some other parts of the country. They have preferential tax treatment. For instance, in these areas we do not levy tax on profit which is paid to the federal budget.  This zero rate is valid for five years. We have substantially reduced part of the tax on profit which is paid to regional budgets. The rate of social payments there has been reduced four times, and there are practically zero rates on property and many other benefits. So we invite all companies to invest in these areas. A fairly large number of investment projects with China are currently at the implementation stage, both in the Far East and other parts of this country.

These are projects in the conventional power industry (oil and gas) and new areas of our cooperation, including agro-industrial cooperation, high technology and housing construction. There are good projects in all of these areas. We hope more projects will be launched in the next few years.

Anchor: What do you expect from our relations and cooperation during the next stage?

Dmitry Medvedev: In recent years, our relations have reached a level where they are to some extent even free from the outcome of the elections. This is a strategic relationship geared towards the future, future generations. I am confident that after the elections, during the next political cycle in our country, these relations will remain unchanged. They will follow an ascending trajectory precisely because both our countries are interested in these relations.

Perhaps, our relations with China are now at their all-time high. These are equal and friendly relations based on non-interference in each other's domestic affairs, respectful dialogue, partnership, and interaction on all issues, including the economy and international issues. So, I am absolutely confident that these relations will continue to develop.

Anchor: With regard to the alignment of the Belt and Road initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, what do you expect from the realisation of this idea?

Dmitry Medvedev: We, of course, expect that this will result in economic dividends and bring a solution to a number of economic issues, both in the sphere of infrastructure and other areas of investment. Acting within the framework of contacts that exist at the level of the heads of state and heads of government, we strive to establish proper cooperation between China and the Eurasian Economic Union. This opens up additional opportunities, including for Chinese investment and for promoting China’s cooperation not only with Russia but also with other countries that are members of the Eurasian Economic Union.

Speaking about the Belt and Road platform, it is a strategic project implemented by China in a collaborative effort with other countries. We use this project to discuss the most diverse forms of aligning economic projects and, of course, the social consequences of this cooperation.

Anchor: President Xi Jinping gave guidelines on China’s development until the middle of this century. What is your vision of China in 2050?

Dmitry Medvedev: I am sure that China will be a prosperous, well-organised modern country, which will be comfortable for its citizens to live in.  

Anchor: What do you think Russia will be like by that time?

Dmitry Medvedev: We also believe that we will be able to do as much as we can during these years to ensure the development of our country, so that it can become stronger, modern and prosperous, so that people in our country can feel as comfortable as possible, and all the tasks that we are working on now, including in education, healthcare and social security, can be accomplished.

The world does not stand still, so it is hard to guess what it will be like by 2050 or any other date, for that matter. Clearly, it will be more reliant on high technology, with artificial intelligence being used everywhere. I think we could also strengthen our cooperation in this area, in the sectors where modern artificial intelligence is used in one form or another, and we can also lay a foundation to build upon in the future. I mean driverless cars, which are gradually appearing in the world. This is also about the future, and we should also cooperate in this area given the potential for technological development that we possess.

Most importantly, we must retain good and friendly relations between our countries and our peoples, the atmosphere of trust which has invariably been typical of our cooperation in recent years. Our countries can influence many things at international venues, our countries are very important global players, they are permanent members of the UN Security Council and simply have friendly feelings towards each other. That is why we will strengthen our relations with the People’s Republic of China in the international arena as well.  

Anchor: What role will China and Russia be playing in the international arena by that time?

Dmitry Medvedev: I strongly believe that jointly with the People’s Republic of China we will play a significant role in making the most vital decisions for the development of our countries and the promotion of intergovernmental and international cooperation. Our countries are bearing great responsibility. The People’s Republic of China is one of the world’s largest economies. I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that in the near future China will obviously become the world’s largest economy, and this of itself is a major factor of development. Our country is also a major participant in the global dialogue of the international community. We are permanent members of the Security Council and take decisions in very difficult situations as we are responsible for peace on the planet. I believe we will be able to continue cooperating like this. 

Anchor: What song would you recommend to our internet users both for singing and simply listening?

Dmitry Medvedev: I think acquaintance with Russia should start with famous songs. For instance, Katyusha is a song from a certain historical period. It is well known in Russia, China and other countries. By the way, Katyusha is also the name of a new channel which is about to start broadcasting for the Chinese audience. So I invite everyone to watch it.