On the first day of his 3-day state visit to China, Russian President Vladimir Putin was received with the warmest foreign welcome of a friendship medal by President Xi Jinping of China. Although his arrival here was for presiding over the Shanghai Cooperation Organization during the weekend, President Putin decided to drop by the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where he was anointed with the first ever friendship medal issued by China.

During the meeting, which was broadcasted live on state television, President Xi Jinping pondered over the friendly relations between the two countries and praised Russia for always standing beside China, acknowledging their whole-hearted efforts to develop a comprehensive partnership with the country, despite Western pressures. It was during this time when President Xi Jinping decided to award the Russian President with a huge gold-colored medal, calling President Putin a great influential leader of an even greater country, an old ally of the Chinese people, and his best and most intimate friend in the world. Such friendly gestures between the two leaders are not uncommon at all, as in an interview prior to this visit, President Putin had confirmed to have never had such a relationship with another foreign leader, with President Xi being the only state leader to have ever downed a shot of vodka in celebration of the former President’s birthday.

During the 25th visit of the two Presidents, several agreements were signed at the Great Hall, all of which are expected to deepen the relationship and rapport between the two countries on the world stage. As President Putin himself confirmed, a good relationship with China was always among the top priorities of Russia, and Russian and Chinese interests had always been aligned in the sense of people, the West, and their bilateral friendship.

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