BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese and Russian companies attending a regional conference in northeastern China signed a raft of cooperation deals on Monday in sectors ranging from manufacturing and logistics to e-commerce and agriculture, Chinese state media reported.
The conference in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province, followed last week's meeting in Beijing between Russian President Vladimir Putin and China's President Xi Jinping. Russian local government officials, business representatives as well as nearly 800 Chinese companies hoping to enter the Russian market were attending the conference.
China has urged increased cross-border connectivity with Russia and deeper economic cooperation despite disapproval from the West after Russian forces invaded Ukraine last year, with northeast China - comprising the provinces of Liaoning, Heilongjiang and Jilin - gaining new strategic significance as a zone of bilateral trade and commerce.
In January to September, 40 Russian firms set up businesses in Liaoning, China's national broadcaster reported on Monday.
Liaoning's outbound shipments to Russia soared 82.3% in the first nine months from a year earlier to 42.64 billion yuan ($5.83 billion).
In March, a new cargo hub for China-Europe freight trains was put into operation in Shenyang, with a train carrying 55 containers departing for Russia to mark the hub's inauguration.
In May, Chinese customs said the landlocked province of Jilin would be able to use Vladivostok, the biggest port in the Russian Far East, to ship goods to Zhoushan and Jiaxing in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang from June, cutting costs and transportation time for Jilin cargo bound for eastern China.
Heilongjiang should also become a "pivotal" gateway for China's opening up in the north, Xi declared in September, saying the province ought to play an active role in safeguarding national defence, food, and energy security.
In September, bilateral trade between Russia and China surged to $21.18 billion, the highest since February 2022 when Russia began the war in Ukraine, according to the data by Chinese General Administration of Customs earlier this month.
($1 = 7.3172 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Ellen Zhang; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)