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The Chinese President will attend the opening ceremony of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Russia from February 6th – 8th at the invitation of Russian President, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Monday.
Xi’s decision is in stark contrast to the US President Barack Obama’s boycotting the games in protest over Russia’s clampdown on gay propaganda. The White House delegation will not include the President, first lady or even the Vice President with Obama choosing to instead send an openly gay athlete, tennis icon Billie Jean King.
Meanwhile, the Chinese and Russian Presidents have vowed better ties in 2014 in an exchange of New Year greetings earlier this month.
Putin had referred to the special Sino-Russian bond during a televised interview last week.
“I know that I have many friends in China. It is not surprising, because we have special relations with China. And I have special feelings for China,” he said while answering a Chinese journalist.
In 2013, Xi and Putin have overseen enormous Sino-Russian joint ventures including a massive oil deal with state-run Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company striking agreements to almost triple oil supplies to China in coming years from the around 300,000 barrels per day (15 million tonnes a year) it ships there currently.
The Russian President also invoked Napolean to underline the reaction of the western world to China’s growth.
“Probably, you know that Napoleon once said that China was sleeping, and let it sleep as long as possible. This is a traditional attitude of the Western Civilization towards the East, towards China, in particular. But China has awakened,” Putin said.
Welcoming Chinese investment in Russian projects, Putin said, “we have promising, very interesting joint plans with our Chinese friends”.
“There are very good investment tools in China, including a whole network of major funds. The Russian Direct Investment Fund, the RDIF, works with some of them, with major Chinese investment funds. They already have joint projects,” he said.
“We cooperate in all areas: in politics, the economy, in the humanitarian sphere, in security, which is very important (I refer here to cooperation in military technology and in the purely military sphere),” said Putin.
Putin has said last week that there is a moral dimension to Russia’s hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics
“There is a sort of moral moment,” Putin told a group of foreign and Russian journalists.
“After the collapse of the USSR and the difficult and bloody events in the Caucasus, the general state of society is one of dejection and pessimism. We need to cheer up. [We need to] understand and feel that we can put on such large-scale projects,” he added.
The Russian President claims the Sochi Olympic project has been “the largest construction site in the world”.
“I would like the participants, fans, journalists and all those who watch the Games on TV and follow them through the media to see a new Russia, see its face and its possibilities, and take a fresh and unbiased look at the country,” he said.