As bilateral trade between China and Russia gains steam, the two countries are looking to further boost cooperation at local levels to promote common growth, government officials and experts said during the ongoing 6th China-Russia Expo held in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
The expo, as an important platform for bilateral economic and trade cooperation, has attracted more than 1,300 enterprises from China's 21 provincial-level regions and Russia's 18 oblasts as well as many government officials from the two countries.
Svetlana Utyasheva, deputy director of the international department of Russia's Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic, said at a high-level forum during the expo that the Russian Far East, located on the transport corridor between Asia and Europe, has "unique geographical advantages in conducting local-level cooperation with China."
She added that the Russian Far East has maintained regular exchanges and cooperation with China in agriculture, logistics and port industry, and she hoped such cooperation can be expanded to high-tech and tourism sectors.
Aysen Nikolayev, head of Russia's Sakha Republic, said Sakha has abundant natural resources such as mineral resources and hoped to collaborate with more Chinese enterprises in improving Sakha's energy transport networks.
Bilateral trade between China and Russia has seen rapid growth in recent years. The bilateral trade volume exceeded 100 billion U.S. dollars last year, and China has been Russia's largest trading partner for eight consecutive years.
In a bid to coordinate local-level cooperation, the two countries have set up regional cooperation mechanisms for the regions along China's Yangtze River and Russia's Volga River, as well as China's northeast region and the Russia Far East.
At the ongoing China-Russia Expo, more than 600 enterprises from Heilongjiang, China's northernmost province that shares a 3000-km border with Russia, are presenting their products and projects, looking for business partners from the neighboring country.
In Heilongjiang, construction is underway on the first railway bridge and the first highway bridge connecting China and Russia, which are expected to facilitate overland cross-border transportation after their completion later this year.
Qin Enting, Communist Party chief of Heilongjiang's border city of Heihe, said Heihe and Russia's Blagoveshchensk, which will be connected by the highway bridge, have "joined hands in strengthening infrastructure connectivity and trade ties and promoting people-to-people exchanges."
Many other Chinese provinces and regions, including southern China's manufacturing powerhouse Guangdong Province and the southwestern Sichuan Province on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, have joined Heilongjiang in deepening local-level cooperation with Russia.
Li Yunze, vice governor of Sichuan Province, said Sichuan would cooperate with Russia's local governments to boost the development of cross-border logistics, which would facilitate the imports of Russia's sweets and meat products to China's western region and the exports of Sichuan's vegetables, apparel and electronics to Russia.
"Guangdong will strengthen local-level cooperation with Russia in energy, modern agriculture and cross-border e-commerce. Meanwhile, we will take advantage of the China-Europe freight trains to further increase the flow of goods between Guangdong and Russia," said Chen Guangjun, deputy head of the office for Guangdong pilot free trade zone.