Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Sochi boosts China-Russia relationship

By Ruan Zongze (China Daily) Updated: 2014-02-08 07:47

President Xi Jinping reached Sochi in Russia on Thursday to attend the opening ceremony of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games. By accepting the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the event, Xi has not only become the first Chinese head of state to attend a major sports event abroad, but also proved that China-Russia relations have been moving full steam ahead.

Xi's Feb 6-8 visit to Russia is his first foreign trip in the Year of the Horse. Incidentally, Russia was also the destination of his first overseas trip after taking office as China's president in March 2013.

The massive investment and careful preparation Moscow has made for the Sochi Winter Olympics will, no doubt, demonstrate Russia's vitality and openness under the leadership of Putin, and give full play to the Olympic spirit. But the run-up to the Sochi Games was marred by several developments.

Two deadly attacks on the public transit system of the southern Russian city of Volgograd in late December killed at least 34 people and left more than 100 injured. The attacks, however, didn't prevent some countries from politicizing sports and threatening to boycott the Sochi Games by citing human rights issues. That is why Xi's attendance at the Games acquires special importance for Russia; it reflects China's support for Putin's endeavor to hold a successful Winter Games.

The development of China-Russia ties has had a far-reaching impact on the international community. Since March last year, Xi and Putin have met five times, talked over the telephone three times and exchanged letters 16 times. Needless to say, they have established a close working relationship and personal friendship, which was reflected at last year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Indonesia. Putin celebrated his birthday with Xi during the APEC meeting, and later told reporters that they drank vodka and ate the cake that Xi had given him.

The Russian president has emphasized that Russia and China share a special relationship and that he has a special feeling for China. Xi's Chinese Dream and Putin's vision to revive Russia within 20 years both are aimed at nation building and can drive China-Russia ties to greater heights in the coming years.

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