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Xi visit expected to herald greater progress in China-Russia ties

Aerial photo taken on Aug. 19, 2019 shows the Blagoveshchensk-Heihe highway bridge, which connects China and Russia across the Heilongjiang River, also known as the Amur River. (Xinhua/Wang Jianwei)

Moscow, Russia | Xinhua | Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived here on Monday afternoon for a three-day state visit to Russia at the invitation of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

Many in Russia applaud the high-level development of China-Russia relations in recent years, and are eagerly looking forward to the visit. They expect deeper cooperation in politics, economy, trade, people-to-people and culture as well as new progress in bilateral ties in the new era and greater contribution to world development.

HEAD-OF-STATE DIPLOMACY

Exchanges between the two heads of state are the compass and anchor of China-Russia relations. Under their guidance, the China-Russia relationship is brimming with new dynamism and vitality, setting a fine example for developing a new model of major-country relations featuring mutual trust, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.

Russian officials and scholars believe that with Xi’s visit to Russia, the two heads of state will work together for steady and sustained progress in bilateral cooperation, which will continuously benefit the people of the two countries.

The Russian people respect President Xi very much and eagerly look forward to the old friend’s visit, said Galina Kulikova, first deputy chairperson of the Russia-China Friendship Association. Kulikova has been engaged in Russian-Chinese public diplomacy for more than 65 years and was awarded the Friendship Medal, China’s highest state honor. She said that Xi’s visit shows that China attaches great importance to bilateral relations and will promote practical cooperation between the two countries.

In March 2013, Xi chose Russia for his first trip abroad as Chinese president. Ten years later, Xi again picked Russia for his first overseas visit following his re-election.

Since 2013, Xi and Putin have jointly blueprinted the development of bilateral ties and practical cooperation in various fields, held frank and in-depth exchanges of experiences in state governance, communicated and coordinated closely on major international issues, and attended multiple major events organized by each other. The two sides remain committed to building a multipolar world, advocate and practice true multilateralism, and have reached important strategic consensus on upgrading China-Russia relations, safeguarding regional security and stability, and building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Xi’s visit once again testifies to the importance of Russia-China relations and reaffirms that Russia and China will continue to practice true multilateralism, promote the construction of a multipolar world, enhance global governance, and contribute to world development, said Sergei Lukonin, head of the Department of Chinese Politics and Economics at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

BROAD COOPERATION

Over the years, China and Russia have firmly supported each other in safeguarding their core interests, cooperation projects in key areas have been steadily implemented and landmark progress has been made in cross-border connectivity. In 2022, two-way trade hit a record high of 190.27 billion U.S. dollars.

Xi’s visit to Russia is widely perceived in Russia as a trip of cooperation to promote mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, deepen the synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasian Economic Union, and help the two countries achieve their respective goals of development and revitalization.

Andrei Gubin, an associate professor of the International Relations Department of Russia’s Far Eastern Federal University, voiced the hope that the two countries will step up cooperation in freight transportation via railways and the Northern Sea Route as well as energy exports.

Vitaly Mankevich, president of the Russian-Asian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, deemed Xi’s visit “an important signal” that indicates the steady advance of the two countries’ relations and proves bilateral cooperation “not subject to external influence.”

“For businesses, stability and a clear understanding of the prospects are important,” he said.

Having seen the fruit borne from the synergy between the BRI and the Eurasian Economic Union, Dmitry Novikov, deputy chairperson of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Russia, observed that the BRI has benefited dozens of countries and billions of people.

“We see equal and mutually beneficial cooperation in this initiative. Its implementation promotes industrial development, increases personnel training, creates jobs, and raises living standards,” said Novikov.

CLOSER PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE EXCHANGES

As a Chinese saying goes, “the key to sound relations between states lies in amity between the people, and the key to amity between the people lies in heart-to-heart exchange.” China and Russia, both with deep cultural roots, share a long and fruitful history of people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

Currently, Russians from different walks of life expect the Chinese president’s visit to further deepen mutual trust and understanding, and consolidate the political foundation and public support for the friendship between the two peoples.

Irina Zakharova, an Honored Art Worker of Russia who has multiple works on Chinese culture, believes that Xi’s visit will certainly promote cultural exchanges and people-to-people bonding between the two countries.

Both Russia and China enjoy splendid culture, each with its distinctive characteristics as well as similarities, she said, expressing her confidence that cultural activities such as folklore exhibitions and academic exchanges will further enhance mutual understanding.

Recent years have witnessed ever closer exchanges between the two countries in such fields as science, education and culture.

Evgeny Vlasov, vice president for international relations at the Far Eastern Federal University, said the government has sponsored 940 international students from China studying at Russian higher education institutions for this school year, and the number will continue to rise next year.

Furthermore, China and Russia are each other’s biggest neighbor, with hordes of tourists traveling across the border frequently. For many years, China has been a major source of tourists to Russia.

In February, Russia received the first tourist group from the neighbor shortly after the restoration of China’s outbound group travels. “With respect to receiving foreign visitors, the Russian tourism is holding great expectation for Chinese tourists,” said Alexander Osaulenko, vice president of the Russian Tourism Alliance.

As China has optimized its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, people-to-people and cultural exchanges with Russia have gained momentum.

Russia is anticipating cultural activities co-hosted with China this year, said Russian Minister of Culture Olga Lyubimova, who is confident that these events will further promote cultural exchanges and friendship between the two sides. ■

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