Chinese President Jiang Zemin is scheduled to arrive in Moscow on Sunday to begin a 10-day trip to Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova designed to shore up relations with the former Soviet states.
During his three days in Moscow, Jiang and President Vladimir Putin are due to sign a treaty of mutual friendship between their countries, as well as discuss economic and international security issues.
Many experts have said that the U.S. factor will be high on the agenda. Some said that recent U.S. policy has been pushing Russia and China closer together.
"There is always the shadow of the U.S. around when we're talking about Sino-Russian relations," said Sergei Luzyanin, a senior China researcher at Moscow's Far East Institute.
Luzyanin said the proposed friendship treaty contained no references to military cooperation, suggesting it was more an acknowledgement of 10 years of good relations than any significant policy shift.
"In comparison to the treaty of the 1950s between the two countries which was based on ideology this treaty is basically pragmatic," Luzyanin said.
Vasily Miheyev, head of the Center for Socioeconomic Research on Northeast Asia, added: "The visit shows that Sino-Russian relations are developing well both politically and diplomatically. And the new treaty is likely to further cement our relations."
"Russia and China basically don't have any serious global problems," Luzyanin concurred. "Our trade is small but growing steadily from $6.7 billion in 1998 to $8 billion in 2000. But remember that does not include the several billion dollars in unofficial local trade."
Still, both experts acknowledged that it was not all clear skies between Russia and China with Chinese illegal immigration into Russia's sparsely populated Far East souring the attitude of the local population toward their huge neighbor. Moreover, for Russians, the fact that 14 of the 145 passengers that died in the recent air crash in Irkutsk were Chinese nationals served to underline China's growing numbers and influence in the region.
Separately, experts said the fact the Chinese leader is scheduled to arrive in Moscow two days after the announcement here of the winning bid to host the 2008 Olympics where Beijing is a leading contender is purely coincidental.