Commercial deals worth $4 billion were signed to crown Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Russia after a show of rapidly growing ties between the two huge neighbors.
“China was and remains one of the most important economic partners for Russia,” President Vladimir Putin said at the opening ceremony of China’s national exhibition in Moscow. Hu said it was “the largest ever outside China”.
Addressing a lavish ceremony attended by hundreds of officials and businessmen, he said bilateral trade had grown five-fold from 2000 to around $30 billion.
A show of China’s achievements, in areas ranging from textiles to space, covered 20,000 square meters of the Crocus Expo centre in northern Moscow.
The opening ceremony was followed by rushed contract signing: five pairs of businessmen signed contracts at a time, faster than the announcer managed to read them out.
“All in all, more than 20 contracts worth around $4 billion were signed today,” said Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who oversaw the signing ceremony.
The agreements, which come on top of $2 billion worth of deals struck in the Kremlin on Monday, covered areas ranging from the metals trade to the exploration of new deposits in Eastern Russia and the import of tomato paste.
Further details on the deals were not immediately available, and major agreements in oil and gas—which Russia produces in abundance and China is desperate to buy—were conspicuously lacking.
A mooted deal to modestly increase rail supplies of oil to China, an area where Russia has consistently missed its targets in the last three years, was postponed after the two sides failed to agree on railway fees, an industry source said.
Moscow and Beijing, whose Communist alliance changed to rivalry and erupted into a military conflict in late 1960s, mended their ties in the dying years of the Soviet Union and are now building what they say is a “strategic partnership”.
Russia, resurgent from a decade of economic decline, and China, emerging as a new global power, are seeking to boost their influence in the post-Cold War world.
Russia is key supplier of arms to China. The two countries, permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, share positions on many international issues, including Iran and North Korea.
Hu and Putin held formal talks in the Kremlin. (Reuters)