A solid bilateral relationship and mutual trust have helped to develop the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between China and Russia, China’s top envoy in Russia said recently.

Li Hui, Chinese Ambassador to Russia, made the remark in a group interview prior to President Xi Jinping’s state visit on June 5-7. Xi also is expected to participate in the 23rd St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Li spoke highly of the solid progress the two countries are making in pragmatic cooperation, stressing that the Belt and Road Initiative has added momentum to the two countries’ economic development, and high-tech, agricultural trade, e-commerce and finance have become new areas for cooperation.

Li said the BRI, which was proposed by Xi six years ago, has gained active support from Russia, and the president signed an agreement about the coordination between the BRI and Russia-proposed Eurasian Economic Union with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in 2015.

“The ambitious initiative (of the BRI) has boosted the continuous upgrade of cooperation between China and countries involved in the initiative. President Putin par-ticipated in the first and second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which shows the willingness and determination of the two countries to cooperate under the BRI,” Li said.

China has become Russia’s largest export country for agricultural products since 2015, Li said. In 2018, two-way agricultural trade reached $5.23 billion, an increase of 28.2 percent over the previous year.

Meanwhile, tourism cooperation between the two countries has improved, as the number of Chinese visitors to Russia was 1.97 million last year, an increase of 1.4 percent.

While partnerships in traditional areas, such as energy, nuclear power, aerospace and infrastructure, have been firmed up, Li said the two sides also have collaborated in investment and financing within the framework of the Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Noting that bilateral trade has hit a record high to surpass $100 billion last year, the ambassador said he hoped that the two countries would continue expanding cooperation in energy, aerospace, aviation, connectivity, infrastructure and other emerging areas so that the two-way trade could be doubled as soon as possible.

China and Russia are each other’s most important and strategic partner, Li said, adding that the two countries support each other in hosting diplomatic activities, which fully reflects the special nature of their strategic partnership against the backdrop of global trade protectionism, unilateralism and anti-globalisation.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of China-Russia diplomatic ties and is indeed an important year for bilateral relations, Li said, adding that he hoped the two sides will take this opportunity to push forward bilateral ties to a new stage.