China's panda diplomacy puts a smile on 'best friend' Putin's face

Fred Dufour  Pool

Fred Dufour Pool

China and Russia vowed to strengthen contemporary global strategic stability in a joint statement signed by visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

As well as the talks with Putin, a formal reception and a taking in a performance at the Bolshoi Theatre, Xi's itinerary also includes a visit to St Petersburg for an worldwide economic forum.

Xi's visit comes as Russian Federation attempts to bolster ties with China at a time of highly strained relations with the United States. The official meeting ceremony is a mandatory part of the program during any state visit. When we talk about pandas, we always end up with a smile on our faces.

After meeting with Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin tells Tass that the two nations" agreement on global issues is at "an unprecedentedly high level.

Moscow's ties with the United States have declined sharply over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and the allegations of Kremlin meddling in the USA 2016 presidential elections, while China is engaged in a spiralling trade war with Washington.

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The strategic China-Russia East-Route Natural Gas Pipeline project will begin supplying gas within this year, the ministry said.

Mr Putin has placed his hope in a strong showing from Mr Xi and his 1000 strong Chinese delegation at the St Petersburg forum to send positive signals over the Russian economy.

They will also visit Moscow's main zoo, where two pandas gifted earlier this year by China are expected to be unveiled.

Mr. Putin's foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov said the visit is "a crucial event for our bilateral relations".

"These animals are a national symbol for China, and we greatly value this gesture of friendship", he said.

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Russia's economic and diplomatic ties with China have deepened since 2014, when Western countries imposed targeted economic sanctions on Moscow for its annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

The countries are also strengthening cooperation in military affairs and space development.

"Despite all the difficulties, China became a significant creditor and rather significant investor" in Russian Federation at a time when many other investors preferred to pack their bags. It followed that by issuing a pair of travel warnings for the USA, while the Foreign Ministry accused the US of acting in bad faith in trade negotiations and said any attempts to interfere or undermine China's stability would be "doomed to fail".

In 2018, Chinese tourists made 1.8 million trips to Russia while Russian travelers made almost 2 million trips to China.

Observers said cooperation between China and Russian Federation, with both being permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, will play a significant role in promoting global peace and stability.

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