First highway bridge linking China, Russia opens to traffic, set to convert bilateral strategic partnership into more trade bonuses
Published: Jun 10, 2022 04:39 PM


The first China-Russia highway bridge, which stretches from Heihe, a border city in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, to the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk spanning the Heilongjiang River, opened to traffic on Friday, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported. It will open a new international highway that will boost the connectivity between cities in China and Russia. 

The highway opening is set to foster trade between Northeast China and Russia in the agricultural sector, experts said, expecting the increased road connectivity to convert the bilateral strategic partnership into more trade bonuses.    

According to the report, the Heihe highway port was also put into service the same day, which combined with the opening of Heilongjiang bridge, marks the opening of a new international transportation channel between Northeast China and Russian Far East. 

Along with the opening of a road port and the Heihe-Blagoveshchensk highway bridge, China and Russia will also set up a bridgehead cross-border economic cooperation zone to facilitate comprehensive cooperation and further opening-up between China and Russia, meet soaring demand in economy and trade, and promote the development of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, the CCTV report said. 



Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua and Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Plenipotentiary Representative to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev attended the highway bridge opening ceremony via video link on Friday, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Hu said that the highway bridge is a major cross-border infrastructure project jointly pushed by Chinese and Russian presidents. 

China stands ready to meet Russia half way and the bridge opening will steadily push for mutual connectedness and provide better and more convenient customs clearance and logistics services for bilateral flows of people and trade, Hu said.

The team-up between Northeast China and the Russian Far East region maintains good momentum and the two regions are expected to deepen pragmatic cooperation in varied areas for the partnering achievements to better benefit the people of both countries.

The availability of the China-Russia highway bridge facilities trade between Northeast China and Russia's Far East region, adding to existing conduits linking the two countries that span railways, inland waterways, sea freight and pipelines, Zhang Hong, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday.

Russia's Far East region has in recent years been upping the stakes in farm produce and food processing and the newly opened road bridge would facilitate shipments of Russian agricultural products into China, Zhang said.

Heihe port is China's important border trading port with Russia, and it is the border waterway port with the shortest shipping distance and largest capacity between China and Russia. But due to weather conditions, the port is only accessible 240 days a year, and transportation is carried out by hovercraft, floating bridge and ice roads in winter. But with the opening of the highway port, the port will be able to provide customs clearance 365 days a year.

Closer agricultural partnerships are one of the highlights of China-Russia trade in the past few years, complementing bilateral economic bonds that center around energy cooperation, the expert said, noting that China has increased farm produce imports from Russia as bilateral political mutual trust and strategic partnership have improved in terms of the  economic tie-up.  

The opening of the bridge will boost China-Russia trade, as infrastructure connection is further expanded, Jia Zhongzheng, a research fellow at the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday.

"It is another example of the deepening strategic mutual trust between China and Russia. Infrastructure connectivity must be based on mutual trust," said Jia.

In the first five months, China's imports from Russia grew 46.5 percent from a year earlier, accelerating from 37.8 percent in the first four months, Chinese customs data showed. 

Expanding exports to China matters significantly for Russia in the face of mounting sanctions from the West, observers said.

Construction of the 1,284 meter-long Heilongjiang bridge began at the end of 2016 and the two sides of the span were joined on May 31, 2019. The overall highway project, with an investment of 2.47 billion yuan ($369 million), has a length of 19.9 kilometers, of which 6.5 kilometers are within Chinese border and 13.4 kilometers are in Russia. It is one of flagship projects under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. 

The maximum load of the bridge was 318 tons during its final acceptance test, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Last year, China and Russia pledged to jointly promote the opening of the Heihe-Blagoveshchensk highway bridge as soon as possible in a joint communique following the 25th regular meeting between the Chinese and Russian premiers. 

In April, Russia also completed construction of its section of the first China-Russia railway bridge, Tongjiang-Nizhneleninskoye railway bridge, which will be open to traffic soon, marking major progress in rail transportation between the two countries, according to Russian news agency TASS.