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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: President Xi Jinping, ladies and gentlemen, friends,
We are truly pleased to welcome our Chinese friends to Moscow, Russia’s capital. Exactly three years ago, my friend Mr Xi Jinping and I opened the Year of Chinese Language in Russia in this same palace, and today, we are officially launching the Year of Chinese Tourism in Russia.
In recent years, Russian-Chinese ties have taken on the characteristics of an all-encompassing and truly strategic partnership. Humanitarian ties hold a special place in this context: they bring our peoples closer together, strengthen trust between them, and form a broad civil and societal foundation for interstate relations. We successfully implemented large-scale projects such as the national Years of Russia and China, the Years of Russian and Chinese Language; we have held hundreds of bright, memorable events that garnered positive responses from the peoples of our countries. Many of these joint initiatives have taken on a permanent format. Student festivals, competitions for the best knowledge of the Chinese and Russian languages, forums for university rectors, national cinema weeks, and youth athletic events have become regular occurrences.
Let me stress that the Year of Russian Tourism in China was held quite successfully. The number of Russian tourists visiting China grew by almost fifty percent, and Chinese guests were the second largest national group of foreign visitors to Russia. Germany is currently in first place, but if we compare the populations of Germany and China, it is clear that we have great potential in our tourist exchanges with China. I am confident that the popularity of our country among Chinese people will continue to grow.
For Russian tourists, China is also among the most appealing destinations. China’s history spans many centuries and the nation has a very rich culture and philosophy. It has unique monuments, an exquisite cuisine and ancient healing arts. At the same time, China has rapidly-developing tourist and resort centres meeting the most modern demands. In 2012, 1.3 million Russian tourists visited China. China became the third most popular country visited by our people. Here, too, we have great potential for growth.
There is no doubt that events for the Year of Chinese Tourism will be colourful and interesting, broadening the geographic scope of mutual tourist visits and promoting greater knowledge between our citizens about one another, as well as strengthening our special strategic relations.