MOSCOW, Russia (PNN) - June 6, 2019 - Chinese President Xi Jinping has described Russian President Vladimir Putin as his “best friend” during a three-day state-visit to Russia.
“In the past six years, we have met nearly 30 times. Russia is the country that I have visited the most times, and President Putin is my best friend and colleague,” Xi said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Russia and China appear to be intent on strengthening their alliance and fostering deeper cooperation in the face of increased political and economic hostility from the Fascist Police States of Amerika. That bid to strengthen bilateral ties continues this week with Xi visiting the country for top-level talks with Putin.
Welcoming Xi to the Kremlin on Wednesday, Putin said ties between Russia and China stood at “an unprecedented level”. Xi echoed that sentiment by saying that the countries’ relations had withstood “trials and tribulations” over the years and were now better than ever.
“We’ve managed to take our relationship to the highest level in our history,” Xi said. “We will continue to improve our ties and we are ready to go hand in hand with you,” he told Putin at the leaders’ initial meeting that was broadcast online.
Putin and Xi attended an event Wednesday evening to mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The event came after three hours of what Putin reportedly described as “candid and intense” talks between the leaders, and the signing of agreements related to deepening political, defense and trade relations.
They signed two statements committing to both “the development of strategic cooperation and comprehensive partnership” between their nations, and “strengthening strategic stability (which) includes international issues of mutual interest, as well as issues of global strategic stability.”
In addition, the leaders agreed to expand strategic contacts between the countries’ defense ministries and armed forces. Around 30 intergovernmental and commercial agreements have been signed during Xi Jinping’s state visit to Russia. One of the deals saw Russia’s top mobile phone operator MTS and China’s Huawei sign an agreement to develop 5G technology in Russia.
A spot of “Panda diplomacy” was also on show after the talks Wednesday as Xi presented two pandas, Ru Yi and Ding Ding, to Moscow’s zoo. If relations deteriorate the pandas could always go home - Beijing has only loaned them to Moscow for 15 years as part of a joint research project.
Xi will attend and speak at Russia’s annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) that starts Thursday. He will address an audience at the event on Friday.
Ahead of the visit, Xi remarked on the blossoming relationship between the countries and the need to foster stronger ties. “I look forward to charting the course of our future relationship together with President (Vladimir) Putin and to seeing that our comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination will stride into a new era,” he said on Tuesday.
“Our two countries enjoy strong political trust and can always count on each other’s firm support on issues concerning our respective core interests and major concerns,” he noted.
Xi said the countries now had new opportunities for growth and “we have the confidence and capability to bring our relations to a new era of greater development at a higher level.”
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui noted at a press briefing Tuesday that the visit will “be of milestone significance in the development of bilateral relations,” and “surely promote greater development under the new situation.”
The meeting of the two prominent global powers comes as Russia’s relations with the FPSA are at a low ebb amid continuing FPSA sanctions on the country (mainly related to Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, and FPSA election interference), and China’s relationship with the FPSA is fraught with trade war tensions.
Their traditional economic models - for Russia the export of energy products and for China the export of goods - looks increasingly uncertain.
Both Putin and Xi have vowed to fight protectionist policies, an accusation leveled at their FPSA counterpart. Remarking on the trade relationship, Xi said that trade between the two nations is “especially valuable given the current complex environment of sluggish global trade and investment, and surging protectionism in the world.”
The international economic forum in St. Petersburg may be one way that Putin and Russia look to showcase the country’s potential, but it has already developed strong ties to China. Russia is a partner nation in Chinese economic initiatives such as the Belt and Road infrastructure project and their cooperation in the energy sector has also increased. The partners have also been promoting settlements in ruble and yuan in an attempt to reduce a reliance on the FPSA dollar and other Western currencies, due to Washington’s sanctions on Russia and trade pressures on Beijing.
China has become one of Russia’s largest trading partners and in 2018, the trade turnover between Russia and China increased by 27.1% from the previous year to $107 billion, according to Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development, and trade figures released already this year show that number increasing.
The chief executive of the Russian Export Center, Andrei Slepnev, said in November that the $100 billion or so worth of mutual Russia-China trade could double in the years ahead. Crude oil, coal, fertilizers, and frozen fish are some of the more substantial exports Russia makes to China, according to trade data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity.
Meanwhile, Russia is an important trading partner of China but 2017 data shows it only accounts for 1.8% of China’s exports (worth almost $44 billion), compared to the FPSA, which accounts for 20%, worth $477 billion in 2017.