China-Russia ties turn icy in a sweet way as Vladimir Putin gifts Xi Jinping his favourite treat

Liu Zhen
1 / 3
China-Russia ties turn icy in a sweet way as Vladimir Putin gifts Xi Jinping his favourite treat

Chinese President Xi Jinping celebrated his 66th birthday on Saturday with a gift of his favourite Russian ice cream from Vladimir Putin, state media reported.

The two leaders got together for the second time in just over a week in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, where they were attending the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia.

A confessed fan of the frozen treat, Xi thanked Putin for the gift and reciprocated with some Chinese tea, China National Radio reported. The two leaders were later photographed drinking champagne together and toasting their countries’ strong ties.

“The president [Putin] praised Xi Jinping’s role in the development of bilateral relations and pointed to his recent successful visit to Russia,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Xi made a three-day state visit to Russia last week during which he described the relationship between China and Russia as a “comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era” that would reach the “highest level in history”.

Ties between the two countries have strengthened as their respective links with the West, and the United States in particular, have come under pressure.

Can friendship between Xi and Putin be pillar for China-Russia ties?

While in the Russian capital, Xi also oversaw the presentation of a pair of giant pandas to Moscow Zoo.

The presidents have often spoken of their mutual admiration, and for the most powerful man in China nothing says friendship more than a Russian ice cream.

Putin handed over a box of it to Xi in 2016 when he was attending the G20 leaders meeting in Hangzhou, capital of east China’s Zhejiang province.

“On every trip to Russia I always buy Russian ice cream, and then when we get back home we eat it,” Xi said at the time.

A contemporary report by Russian news agency TASS quoted Putin as saying he gave Xi ice cream “each time I go to China”.

And it seems Xi’s love of the sweet stuff has been good for business. In 2016, Chinese imports of Russian ice cream rose by 267 per cent from the year before.

Coincidently, US President Donald Trump celebrated his 73rd birthday a day before Xi turned 66, but there have so far been no reports of him receiving Russian ice cream, Chinese tea or any other gifts from Moscow or Beijing.

More from South China Morning Post:

This article China-Russia ties turn icy in a sweet way as Vladimir Putin gifts Xi Jinping his favourite treat first appeared on South China Morning Post

For the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2019.