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September 26, 2010

China, Russia Agree to Strengthen Strategic Partnership

by Stephanie Ho

The leaders of China and Russia have signed a statement to deepen their strategic partnership and cooperation.

President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev inspected an honor guard at a welcoming ceremony Monday at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

Following a closed-door meeting, the two leaders signed a statement calling for comprehensively deepening what was described as "the strategic partnership of cooperation."

The two giant neighbors also signed agreements to fight separatism and extremism, and commercial deals covering coal, nuclear energy and banking.

The Chinese president pointed to a series of agreements to expand trade and economic cooperation. He especially praised the completion of the first oil pipeline from Russia to China.

Mr. Hu points out the pipeline, and says both sides agree to stick to the principles of openness and mutual benefit in further cooperation in trade, investment, energy, finance, legislation and high-technology industries.

The 1,000-kilometer long oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to China becomes operational in November. It connects Russian oil fields with Daqing, a major oil processing base in northeastern China.

Under the deal, China is lending Russia $25 billion dollars and will be guaranteed as much as 300,000 barrels of oil a day for 20 years. The two sides also have agreed to jointly develop a $5 billion oil refinery in China.

Russia is the world's biggest energy producer and China is the largest energy consumer, overtaking the United States last year.

The Russian president said the two leaders also discussed how Russia and China could work closer together on international issues.

Mr. Medvedev says he thinks this closer cooperation will help both nations, in his words, "deal with the increasingly complicated international situation in a better way."

During a visit to China by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin last year, Russian and Chinese companies signed more than $3 billion worth of commercial deals. The two sides also set the framework for a separate, multi-billion dollar agreement to build two natural gas pipelines to China from Russia's Far East.

Russia and China split bitterly 50 years ago over differing interpretations of Communist ideology, although relations have improved in recent years.

The Russian president arrived in the northeastern Chinese port city of Dalian on Sunday. His three-day trip includes a stop in Shanghai, where he will visit Russia's Pavilion at the Expo.