Heilongjiang province reported 64.7 percent annual growth in its trade with Russia last year, according to the Provincial Commerce Department. Its trade with Russia reached 122 billion yuan ($17.32 billion), ranking first among provincial-level regions in the Country.

Investment in 16 overseas economic and trade cooperation zones with Russia reached $3 billion and attracted 147 enterprises, with Chinese companies paying $250 million in tax.

The province shares a 2,981 kilometre border with Russia and is now taking full advantage of the Belt & Road Initiative and its unique geographical position to boost its business, economic and cultural ties with Russia.

The sixth China-Russia Expo, which was held from June 15 to 19 in Harbin, the provincial capital, saw more than 170 billion yuan worth of foreign trade contracts signed by Chinese companies.

The event was hosted by the Ministry of Commerce, the Heilongjiang provincial Government and Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development and Ministry of Industry and Trade.

More than 23,000 business representatives from 74 countries and regions participated in the expo, which covered a total exhibition area of 86,000 square meters.

Representatives from China and Russia had exchanges on trade promotion, cross-border e-commerce, modern agriculture, customs clearance, transport and logistics, resources development, electronic and mechanical innovation, culture tourism and youth exchanges.

The border city of Heihe has been doing business with Russia for more than 130 years. In 2011, Heihe and Russia’s Amurskaya region started cooperative projects in sectors including transportation, resources, culture and tourism.

The first highway bridge connecting China with Russia is expected to be operational within a year. It spans 1,284 meters, across the Heilong River and will connect Heihe with the Russian city of Nizhneleninskoye.

Construction of the bridge began in December 2016. After completion, the passenger flow between the two cities is expected to reach 1.4 million next year.

In July, construction of a cross-border cableway spanning the same river started on both sides. The cableway will stretch 972 meters and cost 571 million yuan, according to the local government. It is expected to be completed in 2021 and carry 6 million passengers a year.