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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hu to Oversee Up to $4Bln in Deals

Chinese President Hu Jintao will oversee the signing of $4 billion in deals for oil, ships, buses, steel and real estate during a visit next week that will also kick off Russia's "Year of China," officials said Wednesday.

One political accord -- a broad joint declaration -- also will be signed, but no arms deals will be struck, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Hu's three-day visit, which starts Monday, reciprocates President Vladimir Putin's trip to Beijing last March, which kicked off China's "Year of Russia," a series of cultural activities.

Although Hu has been a frequent visitor to Russia, this trip will be "special" because the total value of the deals could reach $4 billion, said a lobbyist, citing China's Commerce Ministry.

"We haven't had a visit of such magnitude yet," said Sergei Sanakoyev, head of the Russian-Chinese Center for Trade and Economic ­Cooperation.

A Foreign Ministry official who helped prepare the visit and put together the deals said: "We need to fill our relations with concrete content."

"We are proceeding from the fact that there are no large political problems between us that could hamper economic cooperation," said the official, who asked not be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the visit with the media.

He noted that Moscow and Beijing had resolved their last major political problem in 2004 when they signed an agreement over the 4,300-kilometer border between the two countries.

Citing the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the official Xinhua news agency said Wednesday that the deals would be worth $4.3 billion.

Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui put the figure closer to $2 billion,

Reuters reported. Li, speaking to reporters in Beijing, also highlighted the importance of energy cooperation between China and Russia.

The two countries are expected to sign a deal to increase oil deliveries to China by railroad, Sanakoyev said. Last year, Russia delivered only 10 million tons of the 15 million tons of oil it had promised due to technical difficulties, angering the Chinese, he said, adding that the new deal could increase the oil shipments to 25 million tons to 30 million tons by 2010.

Sergei Kharlamov, a trade official with the Russian Embassy in Beijing, said he was aware of the plans to "improve oil supplies by rail" but declined to provide other details. A crude oil pipeline from Siberia to the Pacific Rim feeding China is expected to start in 1 1/2 years.

Rosneft spokesman Nikolai ­Manvelov declined to comment.

The officials did not say whether the two countries would discuss any other energy deals.

The Foreign Ministry official said work on the oil pipeline was "going ­normally."

Several banking deals also are expected to be signed next week, including one by VTB to receive a $500 million loan from China's State Development Bank to promote Russian exports to China, the ministry official said.

Sanakoyev said that agreement was likely to be signed in the Kremlin, while a raft of other deals would be signed at an exhibition at the Crocus-Expo center that will be opened by Putin and Hu on Tuesday.

The Chinese bank will also sign a framework agreement with Sberbank and an investment deal with Vneshekonombank to develop the Krasnoyarsk region, the Foreign Ministry official said. Under a similar agreement last year, China became the first foreign investor in Chechnya.

Steel major Novolipetsk, or NMLK, is expected to agree to send almost $500 million in electrotechnical steel to China, Sanakoyev said.

China, in turn, is expected to reach deals to build ships and buses for Russia, Sanakoyev said.

Talks are also to be held on a long-running plan to build a $300 million Chinese business center named Huaming in Moscow.

The Foreign Ministry said the visit is largely focused on bolstering economic ties between two countries, which want bilateral trade to more than double to $80 billion by 2010. The ministry official said the single political accord would be a joint declaration touching on major bilateral and international issues. "This is not a breakthrough document," he said.

He said no arms deals would be signed.

Kommersant, citing no one, reported Wednesday that Defense Minister ­Anatoly Serdyukov would go to China on April 2 to sort out issues related to Russia's arms supplies to China. Serdyukov was charged this week with overseeing military cooperation with China and India, the two biggest buyers of Russian weapons.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman declined to discuss Hu's visit to Russia.

Hu praised "the all-time high level" of bilateral relations in an interview published Wednesday. "At the same time," he told Rossiiskaya Gazeta, "we are counting on Russia taking steps to further improve the investment climate and further open up the market."

During Putin's visit to China last year, the two nations signed 29 agreements worth around $2.5 billion.

About 150 high-ranking Russian delegations traveled to China last year, said Kharlamov, the Russian Embassy official in Beijing.

Among the "Year of China" activities throughout the year will be tea and coffee festivals, the opening of a summer camp and many groundbreaking ceremonies, according to the Russian-­Chinese Center for Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Chinese young people really warmed up to Russia, a Cold War-era foe, after the "Year of Russia" last year, with 64.5 percent expressing an interest in the country, according to the center. No comparative figures were provided.

As part of the cultural exchange, high-voiced singer Vitas won thousands of Chinese fans by holding several concerts there.

"I love him so much," a Chinese fan wrote in a recent English-language ­posting on one of the singer's Chinese web sites.