Chinese President Xi Jinping began a three-day visit to “best friend” Vladimir Putin yesterday with a touch of panda diplomacy and a raft of new Russian-Chinese business contracts.
The leaders praised their countries’ ties during talks at the Kremlin, as Russia and China seek to shore up cooperation amid shared tensions with the US.
“President Putin is for me a best friend,” Xi told journalists during a joint statement following the meeting. “We decided that we would raise our bilateral relations to a new, higher level — increasing our mutual support and assistance, and promote our relations in a new era,” he said, in remarks translated into Russian.
Russian President Putin thanked his Chinese counterpart for an earlier loan of two pandas that are being housed at the Moscow Zoo. “This is a sign of a special respect, of a special trust in Russia,” he said. “When we speak about pandas, a smile always appears on our face.”
The two men signed a joint statement on the development of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation.
Major Russian and Chinese companies meanwhile signed cooperation agreements. China’s Alibaba, Russian mobile phone operator Megafon, internet group Mail.ru and the Russian sovereign investment fund RDIF closed a deal on a joint e-commerce venture.