China, Russia join hands to unlock potential of ice-snow economy

January 20, 2024
Updated 2024/01/20 at 7:02 AM
3 Min Read
China Russia

HARBIN, Jan. 20 – From winter tourism to testing vehicles for severe cold weather and from winter sports to the exchange of ice carving skills, cooperation between China and Russia in the ice and snow economy is steadily gaining momentum.

In early January, the surface of the Heilongjiang River was blanketed in white snow. Tourists from the two countries ventured across the floating ice bridge that links Heihe City in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province with Blagoveshchensk City in Amur Oblast, Russia.

Sitting on opposite riverbanks, the two cities have seen a travel boom since the resumption of mutual visa-free group tourism in September 2023.

This winter, numerous hotels in Heihe are hosting a continuous stream of Russian tourist groups. “My family and I have come to Heihe with the main purpose of enjoying authentic Chinese cuisine and seizing the chance to admire the local snow sculptures,” said Victor Kutukov, a tourist from Russia.

Apart from tourists, engineers are also frequent visitors to Heihe. “I spend most of my time here during the winter,” said Aleksei Ivanov, who hails from Russia and is a technical consultant for test drives in extreme cold weather.

At Heilongjiang Red Valley Automotive Test Co., Ltd., where outdoor temperatures plummet to below minus 20 degrees Celsius, vehicles perform maneuvers like braking and turning on specialized test tracks. The collected data will serve as vital references for adjusting vehicle parameters before the launch of a new car.

The company now owns over 10 testing grounds, said the general manager, Zhao Xinhong, adding that they have built cooperation partnerships with over 100 car manufacturers and institutes from home and abroad.

Zhao said they plan to build a test facility in Russia during the next testing season as part of their joint efforts to enhance technical, training and internship activities.

China and Russia have also seen vibrant exchanges in the field of winter sports, featuring a series of events such as ice hockey friendship matches and ice and snow car challenges.

A regional sports university alliance was also established in 2023 in the provincial capital of Harbin, serving as a platform for exchanges and fostering the cultivation of high-quality sports talents between the two countries.

The sports exchanges extend beyond competitions and education, delving into cultural and friendship aspects. Sergei Kirgizov, captain of a speed ice hockey team in Russia, said he hopes to learn from his counterparts in China and deepen his understanding of China through not only sports but also culture and cuisine.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia, and the two sides will hold the 2024-2025 China-Russia years of culture to enhance mutual trust, expand cooperation and carry forward the friendship.

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