In China, Medvedev Seals Deals and Praises Weightlifting

APMedvedev, with Chinese Premier Li Kequang in Beijing, said Chinaĺs anti-corruption policies had hit home.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedeváon Tuesdayácalled for greater direct investment between Russia and China, on a visit to Beijing that resulted mostly in trade and banking deals.

An increase in direct investment would take economic ties up a notch from their current heavy reliance on Chinese lendingáfacilitiesáand bilateral exchange of goods.

Medvedev also commended some of China's severe anti-corruption measures, spoke of his past life as a weight lifter and presented a collection of his own photographs to a Chinese man who asked him a particularly interesting question.

“We have to pay attention to investment because things are not so good in that area,” Medvedev said in a joint news conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. “We expressed the wish to strengthen investment cooperation,áandáprimarily direct investment into the economies of both countries.”

The leaders spoke afteráattendingásigning ceremonies for a raft of deals earlier Tuesday.

In what appeared to beáan agreement of the sortátouted by Medvedev, Metals of Eastern Siberia Corporation, part of the Moscow-basedámulti-profileáMetropol Group, signed a contract with China Nonferrous Metal Industry's Foreign Engineering and Construction Company.áUnder the terms of the agreement,áthe Chinese companyáwilládesign and build an ore processing plant in Buryatia,áto theáeast of Lake Baikal, at an estimated cost of up to $1.5 billion.áThe Chinese companyáwill own 50 percent of the facility, according to a preliminary deal signedáearlier this year.

Alsoá Tuesday,áRussia's development bank, VEB, agreed to borrow $1.9 billion from two Chinese lenders.

Under one of the deals, VEB will borrow $800 million from China Development Bank to fund a project to build office and retail space at the site of Moscow's formeráSlava wristwatch factory near Belorussky Station.

Under another deal,áVEB will take out a $400 million loan from the same Chinese bank toáfinance the construction ofáa poweráplantáin Kazakhstan.

Ináaáthird agreement, VEB secured aá$700 millionáline of creditáfrom the Export-Import Bank of China for purposes that the partiesádid notádisclose.

In a separate deal, billionaire Oleg Deripaska, president of EN+, signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Cao Peixi, president ofástate-owned power generation company China Huaneng Group.

Rosneft also agreed to supply oil to the refinery that it wants to build in China with China National Petroleum Corporation, or CNPC.áPrivate natural gas firmáNovatek signed a deal definingáthe basic termsáunder whicháCNPCáwillábuy natural gas from theáplanned Yamal LNG plantáin the Arctic.

Asideáfrom the business agenda, Medvedev held an online question-and-answer session with an audienceádefinedábyáRussian newsáagenciesáas "Chinese Internet users."

He said Russian officials closely watched China's anti-corruption efforts, which involve death sentences to wrongdoers. But some of the harsh measures were not acceptable in Russia, heáadded.

"You have experience, which is based on Chinese traditions and is interesting," Medevedev saidáin response to one question,áInterfax reported. "I have to confess that a number of measures thatáyouáemploy areávery harsh and unacceptableáunder our legislation. But I think that these kind of measures bear fruit and hit home."

While sweeping aside the option ofáexecutions for corruption-related offenses, Medvedev lamented the poor record ofácombating theáphenomenonáin Russia.

"Of course, I cannot say that weáhaveáturned the situation around and are now OK," he said. "We will need an enormous amount of effort in the future to rectify this situation."

Answering another question, Medvedev said bothátheáRussian and Chinese governments would seek to further streamline visa rules to ease tourist exchanges.

Medvedev alsoáleakedásome personal information. When asked about his hobbies, Medvedev said he liked sports, books and taking pictures. He added that he often takes snapshots through the window of his government car or other vehicles during work-related trips because of his busy schedule.

About sports, he said he used to do weight lifting for a short while and, for a longer period, heáwas involved inárowing, a sport that he still tries to follow.

"As of now, I do neither of those," he said.

His current athletic activities are swimming andácycling, which he tries to do every day, he said.

Wrapping up the conference, Medvedev, at the urge of the host, chose the question he liked most. That was a question about ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu and Chinese culture. The exact question and Medvedev's full answer were not reported immediatelyáTuesday. Medvedev did recall, however, that both he and his Chinese counterpart had quoted Lao Tzu's maxim advising more meaningful conversations during the talks earlier.

Medvedev gave a book of his photographs to the Chinese man whoáput the question to thank himáfor asking it.

"I hope he will take a look, and, maybe, like something," Medvedev said.

Contact the author at medetsky@imedia.ru

See also:

Eastern Promises: Putin's Slow Pivot to China

China Imports Record Volume of Russian Oil

Why Russia's 'Pivot to China' Was All Talk and Little Action