China signs border demarcation pact with Russia

BEIJING (Reuters) - China and Russia on Monday signed a pact that finally settled the demarcation of their 4,300-km (2,672-mile) border, the scene of armed clashes at the height of the Cold War.

The “additional protocol on the eastern part of borders” was signed by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, Xinhua news agency said.

“It shows that as long was we strive to find solutions on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, all questions -- also complicated ones -- can be solved,” Lavrov told reporters.

Russia is eager to boost exports of oil, gas and nuclear products to China, the world’s second biggest consumer of oil and power, though China’s growing world clout is watched with some anxiety by Moscow’s elite.

Russia, whose $1.3 trillion economy is booming for a tenth straight year, has forged close ties with China on a number of world issues, including Iran and North Korea.

But relations over the past century have run hot and cold.

China and the Soviet Union went from being best friends in the 1950s to suspicious rivals a decade later when they fought a series of border skirmishes after falling out over ideological principles.

The two countries signed an agreement on demarcation of the eastern part of their border in 1991, followed by a supplementary agreement in 2004. A pact on the western border was signed in 1994.

According to the latest protocol, Russia would return Yinlong island , or Tarabarov Island, and half of Heixiazi island (Bolshoi Ussuriysky island), the China Daily said on Monday.

The 174-square km of territory, which was seized by the then Soviet Union in 1929, is at the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri rivers that serve as the natural border between the two countries, the newspaper said.

“It means that 4,300 km of border between us has been demarcated,” Yang told reporters after signing the document.

“In our talks we placed high value on the speedy development and successes of the Sino-Russian strategic partnership in recent years.”

Lavrov said Russian Premier Vladimir Putin would attend the opening ceremony of the Aug 8-24 Beijing Olympics and meet Chinese leaders.

Reporting by Guo Shipeng and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie