Xi, Putin vow stronger ties

Updated: 2014-02-07 02:19

By Wu Jiao in Sochi, Russia, and Zhao Shengnan in Beijing (China Daily)

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Visit to Sochi first time a Chinese president has attended major overseas sports event

Xi, Putin vow stronger ties

President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin chat by video from Sochi, Russia, on Thursday with crews aboard Chinese and Russian warships providing security support for vessels removing chemical weapons from Syria. Alexei Nikolsky / Reuters

President Xi Jinping started his New Year diplomacy by meeting his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Thursday, the sixth time they have met within a year, in keeping with their plans to consolidate relations.

They exchanged ideas on promoting ties and major projects, and on regional and international issues.

The meeting came shortly after Xi arrived in Sochi, Russia, for the Winter Olympics, the first time a Chinese president has attended a major sports event overseas.

Xi said the Sochi Games are a symbol of how Russia is heading toward prosperity and affluence.

During the meeting, Putin conveyed his Lunar New Year greetings to Xi and the Chinese people.

Putin said Russia and China have contributed to world stability and security.

Amid what Washington called "specific" security threats, Xi's presence at the Olympics showed the special bond between the neighbors, observers said.

According to Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov, about 60 foreign leaders plan to attend the Olympic events, among whom 44 will be present at the opening ceremony on Friday.

As the two countries prepare to jointly mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in 2015, they have the responsibility and shared interests to safeguard the postwar order, given that Tokyo is trying to break the restrictions, analysts said.

Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in 2012, he has aimed to amend the country's pacifist Constitution and develop a full-fledged military. He also drew worldwide criticism in December by visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, which worships war dead, including war criminals.

Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said that as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and major anti-fascist forces, China and Russia share a consensus to uphold historical facts.

"Their moves would send a warning to Japan," Ruan said.

Sources said it was Putin who proposed the joint ceremonies and Xi agreed to "commemorate the victory of the world's anti-fascist war and preserve the memory of history", Japan's Asahi Shimbun reported earlier.

Feng Yujun, director of the Institute of Russian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said besides terrorism, Russia is also highly alert to the revival of militarism in Japan.

China and Russia "have a lot of things to do" in terms of coordinating security policies and handling such threats to regional peace, he said.

In 2010, China and Russia issued a joint statement to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of the war.

Enhanced trade and high-tech cooperation will also bolster the development of economies in the emerging markets, Feng said.

During the three-day visit, Xi is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi and meet the Chinese delegation.

Chen Yurong, a senior researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, said Xi's visit would boost economic cooperation, which enjoys a bright future as the economies are complementary due to economic restructuring.

For instance, Russia's shift of its energy exports from Europe to Asia would meet China's need for energy, while China's investment will help Russia develop non-energy sectors, she said.

Bilateral trade reached $89.2 billion in 2013, up 1.1 percent from the year before, according to Chinese customs.

Contact the writers at wujiao@chinadaily.com.cn and zhaoshengnan@chinadaily.com.cn