London Independent 
March 23, 2013
China’s new leader began his first overseas trip as president with a much anticipated visit to Russia today – a symbolic trip that underlines China’s desire to ensure its energy supply while showing defiance in the face of US influence in Asia.
A grand reception was held to welcome President Xi Jinping upon his arrival in Moscow, with guards riding on horseback brought out to greet a foreign leader for the first time. Kremlin guards snapped to attention as Mr Xi and his long retinue walked into the gilded, chandeliered Grand Kremlin Palace, where they met members of official delegations in the ornate St George Hall before sitting down for talks.
“China and Russia are the main and most important strategic partners,” Mr Xi told Russian media upon his arrival. He said he was eagerly anticipating his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “In many ways we speak a common language,” he said.
The grand welcome was a clear indication of the importance placed on the visit by Moscow. Russia is one of the world’s biggest energy producers, and China is the top energy consumer. These realities tend to outweigh the traditionally tense relations between the two neighbouring giants, who were bitter rivals during the Soviet era despite their ideological links.