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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Chinese leader starts Russia tour
Hu Jianto reviews an honour guard in Moscow
China's Hu Jianto hopes to secure substantial oil and gas deals
China's President Hu Jintao has started a three-day state visit to Russia aimed at promoting trade and energy ties.

"I am certain this visit will give new momentum to the deepening of Russian-Chinese relations," Mr Hu said in a statement on his arrival.

Oil and gas deals are expected to be on the agenda when Mr Hu meets his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

China has been lobbying hard for access over Japan to a proposed Russian pipeline carrying Siberian oil to Asia.

Closer ties

Mr Hu and Mr Putin is due to attend the opening ceremony for the "Year of China in Russia", a move designed to cement the strategic partnership that was first declared by presidents Jiang Zemin and Boris Yeltsin in the mid-1990s.

The Sino-Russian initiative, which follows last year's "Year of Russia in China", is expected to feature some 200 events throughout the year, including a major Chinese exhibition, a cultural festival, a business forum and an investment conference.

President Hu will also visit the oil-rich region of Tatarstan, which could yield an oil deal with the regional firm Tatneft, a local government spokeswoman said.

Correspondents say diplomatic ties have strengthened in recent years, with both countries keen to counterbalance US influence.

Ambivalent attitude

China has bought tens of billions of dollars worth of Russian military technology and would like to buy more Russian oil and gas.

But bilateral trade of around $40bn (20.4bn) a year is still only 2% of China's overall trade, and a fraction of that with the United States.

Russia would like to see China spending more of its growing wealth on goods made there.

But Moscow also views China's rise with ambivalence, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes.

Tens of thousands of Chinese businessmen now live and work in cities across Russia's vast Siberian territories, our correspondent says.

They buy up old Russian businesses or set up new ones. For the Siberian economy their arrival has been a boon.

But many Russians now worry openly that one day Chinese may come to outnumber Russians in the vast, sparsely populated land east of the Urals.

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