Xi and Putin, Best Friends Forever?
A transcript of the two leaders’ remarks in Moscow.
This week, Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to Russia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. During the trip, the two nations signed several trade agreements and energy deals, and they even welcomed two new pandas to the Moscow Zoo. The relationship, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted, had reached an “unprecedentedly high” point, while Xi called Putin one of his “closest friends and a great colleague”—sentiments that surely sent chills down the spines of Western observers.
A full transcript of their remarks following the talks is below.
Putin: President Xi Jinping, my dear friend, ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to receive President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping in Russia. This state visit by China’s president is taking place in a year that marks an important date: the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries. I am pleased to note that Russian-Chinese relations have reached an unprecedentedly high level. This is a truly comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction.
Mr. Xi Jinping and I maintain close contact. We regularly exchange visits, talk on the sidelines of international events, and pay close attention to Russian-Chinese cooperation in the political, economic, humanitarian, and other spheres.
In the course of the talks that just ended, we discussed the current state of and prospects for bilateral cooperation in a businesslike and constructive manner and reviewed, in substance, important international issues while paying close attention to Russia-China cooperation in areas that are truly important for both countries. During our discussion and while speaking with our colleagues at the table, I noted that specific and comprehensive work was underway in each area, in addition to the interaction mechanisms that we now have in place.
As a result, as we all saw, we signed an impressive package of documents, notably, the Joint Statement on Developing Comprehensive Partnership and Strategic Interaction Entering a New Era, which sets new ambitious goals and long-term benchmarks for cooperation.
Naturally, we discussed issues of economic cooperation in detail. China firmly holds the position of Russia’s leading foreign trade partner. Last year, trade went up by a quarter to reach a record $108 billion. Tangible success was achieved in investment. About 30 investment projects worth a total of $22 billion are underway with our Chinese partners and Chinese capital. A substantial part of these funds is being invested in projects in the Russian Far East ($3.5 billion).
Russia and China intend to develop the practice of conducting financial transactions in our national currencies. We have just signed an intergovernmental agreement to further expand the use of the ruble and the yuan in bilateral trade to ensure the failsafe bank servicing of transactions in conditions of instability on global markets.
Our energy cooperation is making good progress. Russia leads in oil distribution to China: Last year, 67 million tons of raw materials were sent to China. A gas pipeline to the PRC along the so-called eastern route will enter service in December. Talks are underway on potential fuel exports westward and also from the Russian Far East.
Cooperation on the production and sale of [liquefied natural gas] is being increased. The third stage of the Yamal LNG plant opened in November, one year ahead of schedule. A sizeable share in this plant—almost 30 percent (29.9 percent) belongs to China. We welcome cooperation on another large project: Arctic LNG 2.
The breakthrough agreements on peaceful nuclear energy development reached during our visit to China last year are being carried out. A general contract to build the third and fourth units of the Xudabao Nuclear Power Plant has been signed. The construction of a demonstration fast-neutron reactor is getting started in China with participation of Rosatom.
We focus a lot on strengthening bilateral cooperation in the manufacturing industry. The opening of a plant operated by China’s leading automaker, Great Wall Motors, is timed to coincide with President Xi’s visit. This plant will use advanced technology to make 80,000 vehicles annually, and local content will reach about 70 percent. Today, the president and I will see the products that will be made at the new plant.
Our plans include projects in aircraft and helicopter manufacturing, space exploration, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and other knowledge-intensive industries. We agreed to hold years of Russian-Chinese scientific, technical, and innovation cooperation in 2020 and 2021.
We have good prospects for agro-industrial production. The possibility of creating a Russian-Chinese agricultural holding company in the Primorye Territory with an investment of 10 billion rubles is being discussed. Russia and China are planning to jointly develop international transport corridors. To do so, plans are in place to more actively use the potential of the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Baikal-Amur Mainline, as well as the Northern Sea Route.
The shared border infrastructure is expanding. The construction of a new bridge and a road bridge over the Amur River is nearing completion. We attach particular importance to strengthening direct ties between Russia’s regions and China’s provinces. The years of interregional cooperation are enjoying success. The Volga-Yangtze Council has been working effectively for quite a while now with the participation of the Volga Federal District and the provinces of the upper and middle Yangtze.
Today, the president of the People’s Republic of China and I agreed on establishing two more interregional cooperation mechanisms between Russia’s Central Federal District and North China, as well as between our Northwestern Federal District and the maritime provinces of Southeast China.
This people-to-people cooperation covers many areas. Cultural and cinema festivals, education, youth, and sports exchanges, as well as reciprocal tourism are actively developing in Russia and China as part of a three-year program for cooperation. Last year, China saw about 2.2 million Russian tourists. In turn, over 1.7 million Chinese tourists visited our country. I just shared with my friend, President Xi, a story where I was moving from one building within the Moscow Kremlin to another and realized that most of the tourists on the square were from China. We can go out and wave to them.
I would like to thank Mr. Xi and all our Chinese colleagues for transferring two giant pandas to the Moscow Zoo. We know that China almost never does this. This is a sign of special respect and trust with regard to Russia and our specialists. Whenever we talk about pandas, we smile. We accept this gift with great respect and gratitude. Thank you very much. These animals are a national symbol of China, and we highly appreciate this gesture of friendship. By the way, a little later, the president of the People’s Republic of China and I will go to the Moscow Zoo and marvel at these wonderful animals.
During the discussion of topical international and regional issues, the sides stated that their views are identical or very close on most matters. The joint statement on strengthening global strategic stability we signed emphasizes the principled stand of Russia and China that any attempts to destroy the existing system of agreements on arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation are unacceptable.
I would like to stress that our countries share identical assessments of the situation around the Korean Peninsula and carry out a joint roadmap for settlement. We proceed from the premise that there is no, nor can there be, any alternative to the peaceful political and diplomatic settlement of the region’s problems, including the nuclear issue.
We will continue cooperation with our Chinese partners to reduce tensions on the peninsula and enhance security in Northeast Asia as a whole. Russia and China are working for the peaceful settlement of the crisis in Syria, favor stabilization in Venezuela, and remain committed to the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program.
During the talks, the sides reaffirmed their intention to continue building up bilateral cooperation within the framework of the U.N., the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization], BRICS, the G-20, APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation], and other leading multilateral venues.
We will continue our efforts to link the EAEU [Eurasian Economic Union] integration processes with the Chinese Silk Road Economic Belt Initiative with a view to forming greater Eurasian partnership in the future.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to use this opportunity to thank once again Mr. Xi Jinping and all our Chinese colleagues for productive joint work and to express confidence that the agreements reached during the visit will facilitate the further strengthening of Russia-China friendship and the prosperity of our nations.
The program of the president of China’s visit continues. Today, we will make speeches at the gala evening devoted to the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations at the Bolshoi Theatre.
As a guest of honor, the Chinese leader will take part in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. He will head a solid delegation—about a thousand government officials and businessmen. We will also talk to the heads of major companies of the two countries that will hold the second Russia-China Energy Business Forum. And—I am pleased to say this in the presence of the rector of St. Petersburg State University—there will be a ceremony to present President Xi Jinping with the honorary doctorate of the university.
Thank you for your attention.
Xi: Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, friends, good afternoon.
I am happy to see you together with my old friend President Putin. This is my first state visit to Russia during my second term as the head of the Chinese state. This is also my eighth visit to Russia since 2013. President Putin and I have established close working relations and a strong friendship.
We have met almost 30 times in the last six years. Russia is the most frequently visited foreign country for me, and President Putin is one of my closest friends and a great colleague. This is the best reflection of the high level of bilateral relations and close strategic cooperation between China and Russia.
President Putin and I have just held very productive talks in an open and friendly atmosphere. We thoroughly discussed our bilateral relations and also items on the international and regional agendas that are of mutual interest. We have reached important mutual understanding in several areas. We have also signed and published two important joint statements.
The relevant agencies and companies have exchanged the signed documents in our presence. President Putin has just summed up our talks, and I fully agree with him. Together we reviewed the development of our diplomatic relations for the last 70 years. All of us believe that as a result of the developments in the last 70 years, Chinese-Russian relations have reached an unprecedentedly high level. We now see new opportunities. So we decided that we would take advantage of this historical experience in the spirit of neighborliness, friendship, cooperation, and mutual understanding, and that we would develop our comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation in this new era and raise our bilateral relations to a new and higher level.
Our countries will further consolidate mutual political trust, build mutual support and assistance in issues that concern our key interests in the spirit of novation, cooperation for the sake of mutual advantage, and promote our relations in the new era for the benefit of our two nations and the peoples of the world.
We note with satisfaction that due to our joint efforts in all areas, our cooperation continues to develop dynamically and successfully. Bilateral trade has also hit a historical high, exceeding our goal of $100 billion. We continue to increase the level and quality of cooperation. We successfully implement large strategic projects in energy, investment, aerospace, aviation, and so on.
Region-to-region cooperation in areas like finance, agriculture, and e-commerce has great potential. The parties have already decided to hold cross years of cooperation in research, technology, and innovation in 2020 to 2021 in order to further expand and extend this cooperation, improve exchanges and the joint training of research and technical personnel, increase the integrated power and the research and technical level of our countries.
President Putin and I agreed to continue our work on integrating the Belt and Road Initiative with the EAEU. We will support each other in the Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Eurasia partnership. We will join efforts to promote regional integration and integration economic development in the region.
We are pleased to note that the people-to-people aspect of our relations is following an ascending curve, and our exchanges are expanding across all areas. The years of interregional cooperation were a success, and traditional friendship between our peoples never stops shining with new light.
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Russia, we gave two pandas to Russia for joint research. A little later, President Putin and I will attend an opening ceremony for the panda pavilion at the Moscow Zoo and will meet the two envoys of Chinese-Russian friendship.
The international situation is undergoing profound changes not seen in the past century. Peace and development remain the spirit of the times. However, protectionism and one-sided approaches are increasing, and the policy of force and hegemonism is intensifying. We have a long and difficult path to go before we arrive at peace and development.
As leading world powers and permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China and Russia will, in conjunction with the international community, show a sense of duty and resolutely protect the international system, under U.N. auspices, based on international law, and actively promote political settlements in the hotbeds of tension; we will protect the multilateral trade system, impart positive energy to an extremely difficult international situation, and make new contributions to building a common destiny for all of humankind.
Tonight, President Putin and I will attend celebrations dedicated to the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Russia. I will also visit St. Petersburg to participate in the 23rd St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. President Putin and I will continue to hold bilateral meetings and will enrich the content of bilateral relations in a new era.
This transcript was taken from the website of the president of Russia.