China’s President Xi Jinping hailed ties with Russia as the most important bilateral relationship and called for eternal friendship .

“Russian-Chinese relations are among the most important relations in the world. They are the best relations among great powers,” he said, addressing students at Moscow’s prestigious State Institute of International Relations on Saturday.

“Strong Chinese-Russian relations at a high level not only answer our own interests, but serve as an important, reliable guarantee of international strategic balance and peace,” he said during a televised speech.

The Chinese President railed against “hegemonism, use of force and interventionism” that “rear their heads from time to time”. “We must respect the right of each country in the world to independently choose its path of development and oppose interference in the internal affairs of other countries.”

Mr. Xi was speaking a day after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin followed by the signing of a raft of agreements in the energy, investment and other spheres.

At a meeting with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday, Mr. Xi said the visit, his first foreign trip as China’s new leader, had brought results that “far surpassed my expectations”.

Mr. Xi called for further strengthening the relations. “Eternal friends never become enemies,” he said.

Mr. Xi called for diversification of ties away from trade in raw materials and towards “investment, high-tech and financial cooperation”.

The accords reached will further shift the focus of bilateral trade towards raw materials. The sides agreed to more than double Russian oil deliveries to China from 15 to 31 million tons a year; to step up export of electricity and coal; and to sign by yearend a contract for the annual supply of 38 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas to China over a period of 30 years.

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