President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin sent congratulatory messages on Monday to the Russia-China Friendship Association on the 60th anniversary of its founding.
Xi said in his message that over the past six decades, the association has adhered to the principle of friendship in managing relations with China, actively carried out people-to-people exchanges, and contributed significantly to promoting mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples.
Calling the association an important force in cementing and developing China-Russia ties, Xi stressed that the key to sound relations between states lies in amity between the peoples.
China-Russia relations have reached a new historical starting point, Xi said, expressing his hope that the association will open up a new chapter in promoting exchanges between peoples of the two nations and make greater contributions to strengthening people-to-people bonds, fueling the development of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination at a high level.
In the message released by the Kremlin, Putin said: “The association was there through almost the entire modern history of Russian-Chinese relations, which have now reached the level of all-embracing trusting partnership and strategic cooperation.”
The two congratulatory messages have “demonstrated fully” the great importance the two leaders attach to China-Russia ties, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday.
The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is proceeding at a high level, and bilateral ties are stronger than they ever have been, Hua said at a daily news conference in Beijing.
She noted that Xi and Putin have met four times this year to lead the two countries in deepening political mutual trust and promoting pragmatic cooperation, as well as exchanging views in time over major international and regional issues.
Li Jianmin, a researcher at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European, Central Asian Studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said people-to-people exchanges are important, as they help the public of the two countries better understand bilateral ties.
The two sides should continue working closely to promote such exchanges among young people and lay a strong foundation for friendship in the future, Li said.
Xinhua and Zhou Jin contributed to this story.