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Xi, Putin call for promoting China-Russia youth friendship

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for photos with youths from China and Russia and faculty representatives as they visit the All-Russian Children's Center "Ocean" in Vladivostok, Russia, Sept. 12, 2018. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin visited All-Russian Children's Center "Ocean" here on Wednesday to promote friendship between the two countries' youths.

The two leaders attended commemoration events marking the 10-year anniversary of the center's hosting of hundreds of Chinese children from regions hit by a deadly earthquake in 2008.

Calling China and Russia good neighbors and good partners that are linked by mountains and rivers and pull together in times of trouble, Xi said the peoples of China and Russia have helped each other and shared weal and woe, leaving many touching stories to tell.

After a massive earthquake hit China's southwest Wenchuan County, which left nearly 70,000 people dead and about 18,000 others missing in 2008, Russia immediately sent its rescue team to the disaster-striken area, Xi recalled.

At the invitation of the Russian government, 996 children from China's quake-hit area came to "Ocean" for rehabilitation and the experience will be etched in their memories, the Chinese president said while addressing the children and teachers at the center.

The history of China-Russia relations is also the history of close exchanges between the two countries' young people, Xi said, adding that the increasingly frequent exchanges between Chinese and Russian youths in recent years have promoted mutual understanding and friendship.

Young people are the future of a country, the future of China-Russia friendship and the future of the world, Xi said, calling on the two countries' youths to enhance communication and mutual learning, and make joint efforts to carry forward the great cause of China-Russia friendship.

Xi urged the two countries' youths to strive to be the pillars of their nations, and participate in the dialogue among different civilizations to contribute their wisdom and strength to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

The Chinese president also invited the teachers and students at the "Ocean" to visit China.

Putin, in his speech, said Russia and China have forged a friendly relationship with mutual trust and cooperation.

The friendly exchanges between the two countries' youths will further consolidate the foundation of bilateral ties and are crucial to the future of Russia-China relations, he said.

Noting that Russia and China have a tradition of hosting children from each other for recuperation, Putin said he hopes the young generations of the two countries will carry forward the profound traditional friendship between the two peoples.

Xi and Putin, among others, watched a video of the days when the Chinese boys and girls lived in the care center 10 years ago.

Some of the boys and girls, who are grown-ups now, came back to the center on Wednesday and expressed their feelings with a song "A Grateful Heart."

Xi Junfei, a boy taken care of at the center after the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, recounted his magical experience with the Ocean center: a drift bottle thrown by him, with a note that carried his wish to study in Russia in the future, came back into the hands of a staff member of the center after a four-month sea voyage.

And now as a senior student at the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Xi Junfei's dream has come true.

The youth representatives from China and Russia, together with teachers of the center, read a declaration of permanent friendship, vowing to unite and coordinate with each other to safeguard world peace and development, join hands to carry forward the friendship between the two countries, and work for a more beautiful future of the world.

Xi and Putin also saw an exhibition of handicrafts made by children from quake-hit areas when they rehabilitated in the center.

The two leaders had a cordial talk with the youth representatives from quake-hit areas who rehabilitated at "Ocean" 10 years ago and representatives of the care center's staff who took care of the Chinese children at the time.

The two leaders spoke highly of the profound friendship between Chinese and Russian peoples and encouraged all the people at present to be friendship envoys of the two peoples.

Following the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, a total of nearly 2,000 children from the affected areas in Sichuan and Gansu provinces came to the Russian center for rehabilitation at the invitation of the Russian government. Another 299 children came for rehabilitation after a quake jolted Sichuan's Ya'an city in 2013.

Xi arrived in Russia's Far Eastern port city of Vladivostok on Tuesday for the fourth Eastern Economic Forum at the invitation of Putin.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk with children at the All-Russian Children's Center "Ocean" while attending commemoration events marking the 10-year anniversary of the center's hosting of hundreds of Chinese children from regions hit by a deadly earthquake in 2008, in Vladivostok, Russia, Sept. 12, 2018. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)