At the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russia from Thursday to Saturday to attend the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. This is the first time a major international sporting event taking place outside China has welcomed the presence of a paramount Chinese leader. Xi's visit to Sochi is considered the first of China's highest-level diplomatic moves in the Year of the Horse. Combining the fact that Russia was the first stop of Xi's state visits last year after taking power, it sends a message that China-Russia relations will move forward at a gallop in the new year.
The peace of the 2014 Winter Olympics, customarily an occasion for the spirit of sport to take the fore, has been disturbed by a number of disconcerting noises unrelated to sportsmanship. South Russia's Volgograd suffered serial terrorist attacks ahead of the Games, and there have been several threatened boycotts on various grounds - some as imaginative as the idea that the location of the host city is a manifestation of Putin's tough-guy image. Under such circumstances, the presence of the Chinese President, which shows support for the effort that Putin has put into the Winter Olympics, seems all the more valuable.
Today, China and Russia have one of the most active major power relationships, exerting a profound influence over the world. Since March last year President Xi and President Putin have met 5 times in person and exchanged 3 phone calls and 16 letters, establishing a close working relationship as well as a deep and valued personal friendship. At a recent interview, Mr. Putin cheerfully recalled the experience when he and Mr. Xi drank vodka together to celebrate his birthday last year. "I know that I have many friends in China," Putin said. "It is not surprising, because we have special relations with China, and I have special feelings for China."
The coincidence of Xi's "Chinese dream" and Putin's "Dreams of Russia" has become an engine for the development of bilateral relations between the two countries, with the summit diplomacy involving the two leaders providing strategically important fuel.
Broadly speaking, cooperation between China and Russia in bilateral, regional, as well as international issues has been further strengthened. China has been Russia's largest trading partner for four consecutive years, there will be steady momentum on pragmatic and strategic cooperative projects, and people-to-people contacts will be further promoted through such programs as the China-Russia Youth Friendly Exchanges Year.
Recently, China and Russia have stepped up cooperation on issues relating to Syria, Iran, and North Korea. More specifically, the two countries' warships lately joined forces to complete two escort operations ensuring the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons, reaffirming their commitment to global peace and security.
2014 marks the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Russia, and we have reason to believe that bilateral relations will develop at a higher, faster and stronger rate in the new year.
Edited and translated from 《中俄关系：冬天里的暖意》, source: People's Daily, author: Ruan Zongze, special commentator of People's Daily and Vice President of China Institute of International Studies.