Vladimir Putin tours 'Little Moscow' Harbin as he trumpets ...

28 days ago

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Vladimir Putin - Figure 1
Photo The Independent

Vladimir Putin kicked off his second day in China with a visit to Harbin city as the Russian president trumpets deeping economic and strategic ties between the two powerful neighbours.

Harbin in the northeastern Heilongjiang province, which borders Russia’s Far East, has deep social, economic and cultural ties with its neighbouring country. The city was once known as “Little Moscow” for its substantial Russian population and cultural influence.

It remains a centre of Sino-Russian cooperation.

Mr Putin’s itinerary in Harbin includes attending the 8th Russia-China Expo and the 4th Russia-China Forum on Interregional Cooperation. He’s expected to be joined at these functions by his counterpart president Xi Jinping.

Mr Putin will also meet students and faculty at the Harbin Institute of Technology.

The Russian leader arrived in China for a state visit on Thursday. He met Mr Xi and signed a 7,000-word joint statement heralding a “new era” of partnership covering a range of political, economic and strategic interests.

The “no limits relationship”, as Moscow and Beijing have previously described it, is aimed at counterbalancing Western, especially American, influence in Asia and Europe.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping attend an informal meeting in Beijing (AP)

The statement condemned the US and its allies for their “intimidation in the military sphere” against North Korea, which has strengthened its ties with Moscow in recent years and is accused of being a major supplier of weapons for Russia’s war in Ukraine. Mr Putin hosted leader North Korea’s Kim Jong-un last year.

On Thursday Mr Putin and Mr Xi also attended a gala celebration marking 75 years of diplomatic relations between their countries and gave speeches at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping attend the gala celebration of 75 years of diplomatic relations (Reuters)

“I am very sorry for talking for so long, not allowing the translator to speak,” Mr Putin said at one point during his speech. “I’m just feeling so much at home and thought that everybody understands Russian here.”

Mr Xi and Mr Putin spent some leisure time at Zhongnanhai, a government complex in Beijing similar to the US White House.

They strolled and held "in-depth exchanges on strategic issues of common concern" over a cup of tea, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. The discussion included the Ukraine war.

Mr Xi bid Mr Putin goodbye with a hug as they concluded the first day of the Russian leader’s two-day visit.

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