Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing on Friday, hours ahead of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games opening ceremony, to discuss the development of relations between their two countries.
Nearly three years after Putin’s last visit to China, Friday’s talks meant the 38th meeting between Xi and Putin since 2013.
About a week after becoming the Chinese president in early 2013, Xi embarked on his first state visit overseas by heading to Russia, which showed great importance he attaches to the China-Russia relationship.
Putin received Xi by the highest protocol where a mounted Guard of Honor for the first time ever welcomed a foreign head of state to the Kremlin. Xi also became the first foreign leader to visit the Russian Defense Ministry and armed forces command center in Moscow. The two leaders held extensive discussions, lasting a total of eight hours.
Since then, there have been numerous touching moments in their interactions.
In 2018, before an ice hockey friendship match between the Chinese and Russian youth teams was held in north China’s Tianjin City, Xi and Putin posed for group photos with the team members and jointly dropped the puck to kick off the match.
In 2019, the two leaders attended the inauguration ceremony of the panda house in the Moscow Zoo, and cordially interacted with excited children.
During the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Indonesia in 2013, which coincided with Putin’s 61st birthday, Xi surprised Putin with a birthday cake and celebrated the day with him.
Six years later, in 2019, during the fifth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Putin also prepared a giant box of ice cream for Xi’s 66th birthday.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi and Putin have maintained close exchanges through phone talks, video conferences and other online activities, ensuring the advancement of the bilateral relations in a sustained momentum toward higher levels.
In 2017, Putin awarded Xi the highest honor of Russia, the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called. A year later, Xi awarded Putin the first-ever Friendship Medal of the People’s Republic of China.
Xi attended the opening ceremony of the 22nd Winter Olympics in Sochi eight years ago, which was the first time a Chinese leader had attended a major international sporting event abroad.
Putin has also became the first foreign leader who confirmed his attendance at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Spearheaded by the two presidents, China-Russia cooperation, with an increasing quality and an expanding volume, has yielded outstanding fruits across traditional sectors and emerging industries.
The interactions between the two heads of state have greatly promoted the development of relations between the two countries they lead, and are expected by many to inject a much-needed dose of stability and certainty into the world.