ST. PETERSBURG — Premier Li Keqiang on Nov 6 arrived for a visit in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, which has witnessed increasing joint economic and cultural projects between the two countries as they are deepening cooperation in various fields.
In 2005, the $1.3 billion Pearl of the Baltic Sea project was launched in St. Petersburg’s southwest Krasnoselsky district.
Shanghai Industrial Investment Co., Ltd. and seven other Chinese companies participated in the project, which has become China’s largest non-energy investment project in Russia.
The Pearl of the Baltic Sea is a modern multifunctional residential and commercial zone, with a total construction area of 1.94 million square meters.
More than 10 years later, the Pearl of the Baltic Sea has become a well-known local brand. At the project’s 10-year anniversary ceremony, St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko said the Pearl of the Baltic Sea had broken local stereotypes of residential districts by creating an environment comfortable for living, work and leisure.
In 2015, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) completed a 13.8 million-cubic meter dredging operation project in the Bronka port in St. Petersburg. The cost of the work was approximately $110 million.
This is not only the first dredging project in Europe undertaken by China, but also an integral part of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.
The Belt and Road Initiative comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and aspires to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.
In order to ensure the completion of the project, the CCCC gathered eight dredgers from five countries in the Bronka port. The CCCC managed to finish the dredging operation ahead of schedule, and the quality of work was highly estimated by Russia.
On July 3, 2016, Beijing Jiaotong University, in collaboration with St. Petersburg State Transport University and Moscow State University of Railway Engineering, created the China-Russia High-Speed Rail Research Center headquartered in St. Petersburg.
Vice-Premier Liu Yandong said the center would accumulate knowledge from higher education and research institutions, well-known enterprises and experts from the two countries.
The center will focus on key issues of high-speed rail development, and develop the sharing of research results and joint training, she said, adding that it will also provide technical and intellectual support to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
On the same day, Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine established the first legally recognized Chinese Medicine Center in Russia — also in St. Petersburg. It has already become very popular among local residents.
Cultural exchanges are also successful: Peking opera and theatrical performances can be seen in the most famous theaters of St. Petersburg, notably Mariinsky and Alexandrinsky, and they are praised by the Russian audience.
In exchange, Russian theaters have successfully staged ballet and drama performances in China. Yulia Mylnikova, the Russian side director of the Confucius Institute in St. Petersburg State University, has noted that cultural exchanges have developed in parallel with the deepening of bilateral relations and have a great potential for further growth.
Moreover, hundreds of thousands of Chinese tourists visit St. Petersburg every year.
If one walks across the streets in the city, it’s easy to notice that more and more shops, restaurants and sightseeing attractions have identification signs in Chinese.
During this year’s Spring Festival — the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday season, the city government in collaboration with the Consulate General of China in St. Petersburg organized a plenty of thematic events.
Guo Min, consul general of China in St. Petersburg, said this is the best period of time in the history of relations between China and Russia.
The cooperation between Russia’s local authorities and the Chinese Consulate General is in practical demonstration of such a success, Guo said.