Russia Planning to Open Consulate in Wuhan

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) toast before the fifth regular foreign ministers' meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Dushanbe on June 15, 2019. (Photo by Alexei Druzhinin / Sputnik / AFP) …

Russia is planning to open a consulate general in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province and the city where the coronavirus pandemic originated, the country’s Ambassador to Beijing Andrei Denisov announced on Wednesday.

“The city of Wuhan has been well-known to us for a long time. Before Wuhan, there was the city of Hankou,” Denisov told an online briefing. “Our country was present in Hankou in the late 19th century, there was a consulate general. Now the Russian Foreign Ministry has decided to reopen the consulate general in Wuhan. We hope that when the budget allows, we will restore our presence in Wuhan.”

“I am very pleased to see that life in the Hubei province and the city of Wuhan is returning to normal,” he continued. “Doctors are back home, there are no hospitalized coronavirus patients.”

The two countries first agreed to open consulate generals in the Russian cities of Vladivostok and Kazan and the Chinese city of Harbin in September 2015. Russia already has a consular department at its embassy in Beijing, as well as consulate generals in Guangzhou, Harbin, Shanghai, Shenyang, and Hong Kong.

Despite sharing a land border and historic political similarities, the two countries have historically seen each other as strategic competitors rather than fervent allies.

Soon after President Vladimir rose to power at the end of the 20th century, the two powers signed a 20-year “Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation,” peaceful relations, economic cooperation, as well as diplomatic and geopolitical alliances.

Before his state visit to Moscow in 2013, Putin and Chinese dictator Xi Jinping announced their intention to form a special relationship that involved closer military partnerships and an alliance on the world stage that generally involves opposing United States foreign policy.

With regard to the coronavirus, both regimes have sought to praise their efforts over the crisis, even though most analysts do not view them as successful. In March, Putin praised China’s response to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak as a success in a phone call with Xi Jinping, while also “exchanging opinions on a number of other aspects of the development of friendly Russian-Chinese relations.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian last month applauded Russia and the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) for their responses to the global pandemic. In reality, the Kremlin has been the subject of critical coverage over the high contagion of cases, lack of necessary medical resources, and the large numbers of doctors who have quit in protest at the government’s response.

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