Visiting St Petersburg State University 2019-06-06 20:30:00 St Petersburg Vladimir Putin attended the ceremony to award an honorary doctorate of St Petersburg State University to President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping. The degree was presented by University’s rector Nikolai Kropachev. Earlier, in April 2019, during a working visit to China, Vladimir Putin received an honorary doctorate at Tsinghua University, one of the leading universities in China. Before the ceremony, the Russian and Chinese presidents toured an exhibition of collections of the St Petersburg State University Scientific Library. The display shows books of different eras, which the university translates from Chinese into Russian and publishes in Russia. In particular, the two leaders were shown a rare 17th-century manuscript book on metal melting; it was given to the university by a Chinese collector. The rector of St Petersburg State University presented a copy of this book to the Chinese President. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping were also given paintings by Russian and Chinese students. Speech at the ceremony to present President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping an honorary doctorate of St Petersburg State University President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Xi Jinping, friends, First of all, I would like to sincerely thank the University’s academic board for their decision and also to congratulate with all my heart President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping on receiving an honorary doctorate of St Petersburg State University. I would like to say that I have known the new University Doctor for many years and I can assure the academic board and the entire university that you did not make a mistake, you made the right decision, because I know how President Xi Jinping has worked for many years. Mr President and I sometimes work on major decisions that have enormous importance for bilateral relations. Without exaggeration or embellishing the truth, I can say that he really is an expert in political science theory and a real scholar. This relates not only to bilateral relations, but global issues as well. Many of you probably know about Mr Xi Jinping’s ideas that are outlined in his proposals on the development of international cooperation, an initiative called Belt and Road. It is a major international project that involves a huge number of countries. This is large-scale, fundamental work that will have a global impact. Dozens of countries have already joined the project; hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in the projects proposed by President Xi Jinping. He is both a theoretician, for he suggested these ideas, and a practitioner because he is implementing them. I am particularly happy to note that my alma mater, where I studied and where, as you may know, I had the honour of working as assistant University Rector, has conferred this honorary title on the President of the People’s Republic of China. Today, the rector and the entire university are my assistants, and I am very grateful to them for this. Thank you for your support. I would like to stress that St Petersburg University has been and remains a flagship of Russian-Chinese cooperation in science and education, and it occupies a befitting place among leading global centres for studying the language, culture and history of the People’s Republic of China. Leading Russian scholars of China of worldwide acclaim work and lecture here. In the 19th century, Russia’s first school for China studies was established at the Chinese Philology Department of the University’s Oriental Department. Today, our university implements 40 multi-level educational programmes developed with a view to expanding cooperation with China. They include unique new projects for students, such as in-depth Chinese language courses and courses on modern China’s economy, legal system and public life. Almost 2,000 students from the People’s Republic of China are currently studying at St Petersburg State University. Friends, I can see some of you here. They are mastering a wide variety of subjects, including finance, management, natural sciences and the humanities. The university maintains partner ties with many leading higher education institutions and research and development centres in the People’s Republic of China. My friend, the President of the People’s Republic of China, has just said that they include Beijing and Harbin universities, as well as Tsinghua University, of which the President is a graduate. Russia and China are actively expanding their inter-university exchanges. Currently about 90,000 lecturers, postgraduate and undergraduate students are involved in them. All this shows convincingly that Russian and Chinese young people and our research and academic community strive to maintain mutual contacts, and they are always interested in studying the immensely rich historical and cultural legacy of our countries, as well as modern Chinese and Russian achievements. Friends, allow me to once again congratulate the President of the People’s Republic of China on receiving this honorary degree and to thank him for his efforts to develop bilateral ties and to strengthen friendship between the peoples of our countries. I would also like to thank him for expanding cooperation between Russia and China. Thank you very much.