Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an exclusive interview to the Director of the China Media Group
On the eve of his invitation to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an exclusive interview to Shen Haixiong, president and editor-in-chief of the China Media Group.The interview is as follows: Shen Haixiong: Dear Mr. President, I’m glad to have the opportunity to interview you again!First of all, I warmly welcome you to China for the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.In February 2014, President Xi Jinping was invited to attend the opening ceremony of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, which was the first time that a Chinese head of state attended a major international sports event held outside China.”Of course, I will come to congratulate you personally on your neighbor’s wedding event,” Xi said at the time.This year, China will host the Winter Olympics for the first time, during the Spring Festival. This is a happy event. When China bid for the Winter Olympics, it clearly stated the vision of “bringing 300 million people to participate in snow and ice sports”.You are the first world leader to make a clear commitment to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.In your opinion, what special role does sports play in the “neighborhood” between China and Russia? How can the two countries further strengthen exchanges and cooperation in ice and snow culture, ice and snow sports and ice and snow industry?What do you expect Russia to achieve in this Winter Olympics?Is it safe to make a bold prediction about how many gold MEDALS Russia will win?Vladimir PUTIN: I have known President Xi Jinping for a long time. As a good friend and politician who shares many common views on solving world issues, we have been in close communication.That is why I immediately accepted his invitation to visit China to share with my Chinese friends the joy of hosting this year’s most important sporting event in the world, the Winter Olympics.It is worth noting that the winter Olympics, the first ever held in Beijing, China, will be held during the Spring Festival, the Chinese Lunar New Year, and Beijing has become the first city in history to be awarded the right to host both summer and winter Olympics.I know the organizers have prepared well for the Games, investing heavily in sports and transportation infrastructure, building modern stadiums and ensuring the safety of foreign athletes, coaches and journalists during their stay in China.I believe that such high quality preparation for the start of the Olympic Games will help the Olympic athletes to fully display their character of will, and enable them to demonstrate their skills and achieve their goals in a fair and unrelenting competition.Of course, we cheer for our athletes and rejoice in every victory, every achievement.But how much can be achieved, and how valuable the prize is – only the competition will prove.The pandemic can also affect athletes’ participation and, in turn, their performance.Sports is a unique phenomenon of human civilization.And holding a grand sports event helps to bring people closer together, deepen mutual understanding and promote the universally recognized principle of “fair play”.The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, 2018 FIFA World Cup and other major sports events held in China are vivid examples of this.Russia has been and will remain committed to traditional Olympic values.We oppose the politicization of sport and the use of sport as a tool for pressure, unfair competition and discrimination.We believe that the practice of “collective punishment” for individual violations is unacceptable, but it has recently become commonplace.Of course, we strongly condemn the use of banned substances by athletes and advocate broad international cooperation to eliminate doping in sport.Our country has developed infrastructure, have sports school is famous for its title and traditional project, and held a major international competition experience, and our athletes have been broke many world records, all of which help us citizens, especially young people engaged in sports, promote the health, and sports achievements lay a solid foundation for the future.We plan to reach 55 per cent of the population regularly taking part in physical activity by 2024 and 70 per cent by 2030.The ties between Russia and China in the field of sports are extensive and comprehensive, and occupy an important position in bilateral cultural and people-to-people cooperation.Many events, including those in winter sports, have truly become iconic events.Among them: the Russia-China winter Youth Games and an annual ice hockey friendly on the Amur River between teams from the border region.The exchanges between Russian and Chinese sports federations and professional clubs have also witnessed positive development.For example, China’s Kunlun Hongstar ice hockey club has been playing in the Russian Continental Hockey League for several years — an agreement reached when I visited China in 2016.In addition, we have established interaction in developing youth to play ice hockey.In June 2018, President Xi and I watched a friendly ice hockey game between Russian and Chinese children.In December 2021, President Xi Jinping and I declared the year 2022-2023 as the Year of Russia-China Sports Exchange, which is sure to be a major and compelling event in the lives of our two peoples.The theme year included some 500 different events in the areas of popular and youth sports, education, sports science and talent development.The most successful of these events will be held regularly.I am confident that Beijing will host the Winter Olympics at the highest level.I wish all the athletes and Olympic athletes a smooth race and good results. I wish all the guests a wonderful and unforgettable experience and a happy mood.Shen Haixiong: In June 2019, the relationship between the two countries was upgraded to the China-Russia Comprehensive strategic Partnership of coordination for a new era, after going through “mutually regarded as friendly countries”, “constructive partnership”, “strategic partnership of coordination” and “comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination”.In your video meeting with President Xi Jinping on June 28, 2021, you announced the extension of the Treaty of Good-neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation between China and Russia. What is the significance of this for the bilateral relations?Vladimir Putin: The Treaty of Good-neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation between Russia and China signed more than 20 years ago is a basic programing document that lays the legal foundation for the long-term and stable development of the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between Russia and China.That’s why, on June 28 of last year, President Xi Jinping and I decided to extend the treaty for another five years.It is a thoughtful document and many of its provisions continue to play an important role in today’s rapidly changing international situation.Russia-china relations are developing on the basis of equality and non-ideology.Our partnership is stable and has independent values. It is not influenced by politics and is not directed against anyone.This relationship is based on respect for and consideration of each other’s fundamental interests and observance of international law and the Charter of the United Nations.In addition, the political trust built on the basis of the Treaty has enabled our two countries to build an effective, multi-tiered framework for inter-state cooperation, in which our leaders’ meetings play a key role.China remains Russia’s top trading partner.Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, preliminary data show bilateral trade reached a record high of $140 billion last year.China is our strategic partner on the international stage.On most issues of the global agenda, we are in agreement or very close.We have maintained close coordination in major multilateral organizations and mechanisms such as the United Nations, BRICS, SCO, G20, APEC and East Asia Summit, which has played a stabilizing role in the current complex world situation.In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that the concept established in the Treaty of Good-neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation between Russia and China has brought the partnership between our two countries to an unprecedented high level, changed its nature and scale qualitatively and created conditions for further joint progress.Shen Haixiong: With your permission, I would also like to ask you a question on behalf of Chinese netizens and the vast number of ice sports fans.When I interviewed you more than three years ago, you mentioned that you occasionally “try” to play a little hockey.But as it turns out, you were too modest.In the all-Russia Night Hockey League game held in May of last year (2021), you scored 8 goals in the first 30 seconds, as good as professional players.Do you have any tips to share with China’s ice sports fans?If you had to make a prediction, who do you think will score the first ice hockey goal for Russia at this Winter Olympics?Besides ice hockey, what ice sport skill would you most like to unlock right now?Vladimir Putin: I don’t think I’m qualified to give advice to people who love ice hockey.Let professional hockey players and coaches do it.In my opinion, it doesn’t matter what kind of sport one plays, the important thing is that one should often play what one likes.Stick to your goals, work steadily toward them, and gradually master your skills.Ice hockey has a long tradition and is very popular in Russia.The Night Hockey League, created in 2011, occupies a special place here.Today, the league has nearly 1,100 teams, bringing together more than 20,000 hockey players from most of the country.Many of our famous Olympic and world champions are actively involved in developing this program, so thank you very much.Our achievements in this regard are obvious.Last year, the number of hockey amateurs in China exceeded 620,000, and the number is still growing.I’m happy to attend league events when my schedule allows.However, my interest in sports does not end there.I go skiing whenever I get the chance.I also like biathlon and figure skating, in which our athletes have always had strong strength.I’m also interested in ski jumping.However, due to lack of time, I can only watch the game on TV.Of course, we are looking forward to seeing our hockey players perform well in the upcoming Winter Olympics.Russia has a well-trained, united and winnable hockey team, each of whom is capable of being the first to put the puck into the opposing team’s goal.There’s no doubt that hockey at the Winter Olympics will be as exciting and memorable as ever.We’re going to be rooting for some great hockey, and of course, we believe in our hockey players and wish them all the best.