Sun, 15 Dec 2019

Construction of the first road bridge to connect Russia and China has been completed, with the structure expected to officially open in the spring of 2020, Russian officials say.

Vasily Orlov, governor of the Amur region, on November 29 said the bridge over the Amur River represents the establishment of "a new international transport corridor.'

'It will allow us to fully reach our transit potential,' the governor added.

The bridge connects the cities of Blagoveshchensk in Russia's Far East and the northeastern Chinese city of Heihe in the Heilongjiang Province

The bridge reportedly has cost some $295 million and is 518 meters long. The project consists of a roadway and railway bridge. The railway portion is expected to be completed in March.

'These decisions are aimed at creating better conditions for mutual exchanges, trade, and economic contacts between Russia and China, for the development of a reliable and stable year-round transport connection,' the construction agreement reads.

'It will help preserve and develop the historical ethnic, family, cultural, humanitarian and economic ties between the citizens of Russia and China.'

Moscow and Beijing first began discussing a bridge connecting the two countries in 1988. The agreement was signed in 1995, but construction started only in December 2016.

Russia has sought to bolster ties with long-time rival China after the West imposed sanctions on Moscow over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are scheduled on December 2 to launch the Power of Siberia natural gas pipeline, part of a 30-year, $400-billion project. It consists of a 3,000-kilometer pipeline running from gas fields in Siberia to Blagoveshchensk.

A Russian-Chinese company handled construction of the bridge. Two Russian companies, Region and Transcontainer, are investing in customs and logistics terminals on the border.

With reporting by Reuters, The Moscow Times, and CBS

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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