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Kremlin aide highlights cooperation with China as Russia’s foreign policy priority

Putin and Xi have been maintaining very active contacts in recent years, the Kremlin aide said

MOSCOW, June 4. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Beijing on a state visit on June 8 at the invitation of China’s leader Xi Jinping, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said on Monday.

"On June 8, a three-day visit to China will begin. This is a three-day event because it covers the state visit and the participation in the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization] summit on June 8, 9 and 10," the Russian presidential aide said.

"On June 8, the president will visit Beijing at the invitation of Xi Jinping," Ushakov said.

Putin and Xi have been maintaining very active contacts in recent years, the Kremlin aide said, adding that last year both leaders had met five times while the overall number of their personal encounters had reached 25.

The previous personal meeting between the Russian and Chinese leaders took place in November last year at the G20 summit in Da Nang. Also, both leaders held a phone talk on March 19, during which Xi Jinping congratulated Putin with his re-election to the president’s post. Contacts are also maintained at other levels. In particular, Chinese representatives constantly come to Russia. During one of the latest such visits, China’s Deputy Chairman Wang Qishan attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the Kremlin aide said.

"Strategic interaction with China is one of the top priorities of our foreign policy. The relations have reached quite a high level and to some degree serve as an example of how two major states can and should build an inter-state dialogue," the Kremlin aide stressed.

As part of Putin’s state visit to China, negotiations are planned in the narrow and enlarged formats, after which joint statements will be adopted to seal guidelines for practical cooperation and interaction in international affairs, Ushakov said.

"Generally, a substantial package of documents is always signed during such visits and this is what will happen this time as well," the Russian presidential aide said.

These documents "cover cooperation in the sphere of trade, energy, outer space, intellectual property protection and some other areas," Ushakov said.

After the official part of the negotiations is over, Putin and Xi Jinping will board a train to go to Tianjin to watch a match of junior hockey teams, after which the negotiations will continue in the form of a lunch in the narrow format "to discuss especially sensitive issues," Ushakov said.

Russian-Chinese cooperation

China is Russia’s top foreign trade partner accounting for 15% Mutual trade expanded by 31.5% in 2017 to $87 billion and it gained 30.8% in February-March 2018 to exceed $24 billion, the Kremlin aide said.

The structure of bilateral trade is improving and both sides are increasing mutual exports of hi-tech products and the share of engineering goods is rising. Investment activity is also on the rise.

China’s accumulated direct capital investment has increased by 55% to $4.5 billion as of now. A total of 73 projects have been approved, of which 11 projects worth $11 billion have been successfully implemented while active work is ongoing on 16 other undertakings.

The energy sector remains a priority in bilateral interaction and the deliveries of Russian crude oil to China are growing. In 2017, Russia exported 30 million tonnes of crude oil under inter-governmental agreements while overall oil exports total 52.6 million tonnes, considering commercial deliveries.

The construction of the Power of Siberia gas pipeline to transport natural gas to China via the Eastern route is proceeding according to schedule while Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation have agreed on the basic terms of gas deliveries from the Russian Far East. Negotiations in gas deliveries via the Western route are continuing.

Bilateral cooperation can be illustrated by the Yamal-LNG project, in which China holds 29.9% and France’s Total 20% The construction of the second stage of the Tianwan nuclear power plant in China is also proceeding on schedule.

As for industry, Russia and China are actively developing cooperation in the designing of a large-body long-haul airliner and a heavy helicopter. Both countries are also implementing a program of cooperation in outer space for 2018-2022.

An agreement on trade and economic cooperation was signed between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and China in Astana on May 17, which marked an important step on the way of linking the Eurasian Union and the Silk Way Economic Belt project.