Dalian: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in northeast China for an official visit on Sunday saying that Moscow`s ties with Beijing were "sealed by blood" spilled fighting a common enemy.
Medvedev kicked off a three-day visit to the world`s second biggest economy by visiting the former Russian city of Dalian and paying respects to fallen Russian soldiers who died defending the port from Japanese invaders.
"Friendship with China is Russia`s strategic choice, it`s a choice that was sealed by blood years ago," Medvedev told Russian and Chinese war veterans.
"The friendship between Russian and Chinese peoples cemented by the military events will be indestructible and do good for our future generations.”
"For Russia and China the memory of those events is sacred."
Before meeting the veterans and Li Min, the 73-year-old daughter of Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, the Kremlin chief laid flowers at the monument commemorating the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-05 and World War II.
Accompanied by top energy officials and business tycoons, Medvedev is slated to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing on Monday and oversee the signing of a raft of agreements including energy deals.
Russia has been in talks with China, the world`s largest energy consumer, over gas deliveries.
Moscow, which has been watching China`s formidable economic growth with a mixture of awe and unease, is also eager to attract more Chinese investment.
Relations between Moscow and Beijing -- once bitter foes during the Cold War -- have a turbulent history.
The two nations position themselves as counterweights to US global dominance and the Kremlin likes to call its ties with Beijing a "strategic partnership”.
Medvedev`s visit to the city known in Russian as Dalny also comes as China is entangled in a bitter territorial dispute with Japan.
Dalian, which came under Moscow`s control following a 25-year leasing agreement with imperial China in 1898, is near the naval base of Port Arthur, where Russia lost a fierce siege battle to Japan -- a turning point in the 1904-05 war.
Many in China consider the lease a part of an "unequal treaty" forced upon the Qing Dynasty, then in decline.
In 1945, the Soviet Union expelled the Japanese from Port Arthur -- now known as Lushun -- and handed the base back to China a decade later.
The Lushun cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of Russian troops. Soviet-era tombstones topped with red stars sit on manicured lawns following a major facelift ahead of the presidential visit.
Later on Sunday, Medvedev met with students from the Dalian Institute of Foreign Languages and urged Chinese students to study Russian.
"Maybe some day when I retire I will be studying the Chinese language," he said with a smile.
Medvedev arrives in Beijing later Sunday ahead of his formal meetings on Monday. He will head to Shanghai on Tuesday and visit the Russian pavilion at the World Expo.