Chinese President Xi Jinping has described Russian President Vladimir Putin as his “best friend.”

The Chinese president is on a state visit to Russia that started Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday afternoon Xi highlighted the depth of their relationship saying that he met Putin 30 times in the past six years.

“Russia is the country that I have visited the most times and President Putin is my best friend and colleague,” China president said.

Observers attach high significance to the top China leader’s loud proclamation of friendship for Russia at a time, China has strained its relations with the U.S over the bitter trade war.

The Chinese leader’s visit is seen as part of the former’s efforts to explore deeper cooperation with Russia in the face of economic and political hostility from the U.S.

The Chinese president’s visit to Russia also coincides with the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Convergence of interests

Welcoming Xi to the Kremlin, Putin said ties between Russia and China have reached “an unprecedented level.”

Putin noted that the two sides share common views on many international and regional issues.

“Russia's geopolitical views align with those of China,” he added.

In an indirect reference to the U.S, Putin said the dismantling of arms control treaties is “unacceptable.”

President Xi also took off time to unveil two pandas for the Moscow Zoo.

Analysts notice that common ground of China-Russia ties is a shared sense of alienation from the West.

China has strained relations with the U.S over the protracted trade war while Russia endured the wrath of the West over the Ukraine conflict.  Russia also faced flak for supporting the Assad regime in Syria.

Both Russia and China are coming closer to cooperation in economic and military areas.

Trade agreements signed

In terms of trade, China is Russia's top trading partner and Russia is the tenth-largest trading partner of Asian power.

According to Russian state media TASS, the two sides signed 30 agreements covering security, trade, and energy.

In the area of bilateral trade, in 2018, there has been a 25 percent surge and touched a record $108 billion in value terms.

The $400bn Power of Siberia pipeline connecting Russia and China is strategic and will be completed this year.

Russia signs deal with Huawei for 5G rollout

Meanwhile, Russia’s telecom company MTS and China’s Huawei signed an agreement to develop 5G technology in Russia.

The deal seeks to expand “the development of 5G technologies and the pilot launch of fifth-generation networks in 2019-2020”, according to a statement by MTS.

But, Huawei, the maker of Huawei P20 smartphone is deemed a security risk by the U.S and is on a blacklist.

Huawei’s Guo Ping, chairmen on rotation said he was “very happy” with the agreement.

China is trying to send a message to the U.S through the top leader’s Russian visit, according to Willy Lam, professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He  said China wanted to show to the U.S. that there is a “strong Beijing- Moscow alliance which could be used against American unilateralism.”