Chinese leader Xi Jinping emphasised the importance of relations with Russia as a counterweight to US influence by visiting Moscow on his first foreign trip as president, and secured more oil to fuel China’s growing economy.
Xi highlighted improved relations between Beijing and Moscow, signing energy, trade and political deals on Friday to strengthen ties between them.
“I get the impression that you and I always treat each other with an open soul, our characters are alike. We always speak in a good manner, you and I are good friends,” Xi, 59, told Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin has long sought to blunt US influence overseas, while China is grappling with the expanded military and economic interest the US has displayed in Asia since 2011.
Putin greeted Xi with a firm handshake and a grin then ushered him down a red carpet past a long line of officials and into the Kremlin’s gilded Green Room.
The crowning point of the visit was an agreement between Russia’s biggest oil producer, Rosneft, to gradually increase oil supplies to China to 45-50 million tonnes a year – three times the current level.
Xi was accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan for the three-day visit.
Trip to Africa
Xi’s first overseas trip will also take him to Africa to shore up his resource-hungry country’s soaring influence on the continent with visits to Tanzania, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Joseph Cheng, a Chinese University of Hong Kong professor, told Al Jazeera Russia was a good source of advanced weaponry for China.
“Certainly Russia is important to China as a source of advanced weapons, important raw materials, and there is a lot of room for further improvement in trade and investment activities in view of the economic difficulties in the US and western Europe,” he said.
In an interview released by the Kremlin hours before Xi’s planned arrival, Putin said bilateral trade had more than doubled in five years and reached $87.5bn in 2012.
Putin and Xi, less than a year apart in age, echoed one another in interviews before the visit, each saying the Chinese leader’s choice of Moscow as his first destination was evidence of the “strategic partnership” between the nations.