St Petersburg University awarded the diploma of an honorary doctor to the President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping. President Vladimir Putin and Rector of St Petersburg University Nikolay Kropachev attended the event.

The title of ’Honorary Doctor of St Petersburg University’ is awarded to outstanding scientists, academics, artists, statesmen, and public figures who have contributed to the development of international scientific, cultural, economic and political cooperation.

During the ceremony, Nikolay Kropachev noted that, due to the efforts of the leaders of the two countries, Russian-Chinese relations have reached their historical peak. He said that ‘partnership in education and science has reached an unprecedented level. Our University is part of this wide-reaching and dynamic process. Among our friends, there are more than 50 Chinese organisations and more than 30 Chinese-owned companies. They provide internships for students, professors, and researchers. Our partners are involved in the development and implementation of educational programmes and the final exams.’

He also noted that a number of joint research centres have been opened within the framework of cooperation with Chinese partners. In addition, on the eve of the event, an agreement was signed on the establishment of the Russian Research Institute at Tsinghua University. Nikolay Kropachev emphasised that in recent years the University has managed to quadruple the number of Chinese students. Every fifteenth St Petersburg University student today is from China. Also, the number of educational programmes with a Chinese component has tripled, and they are now present in every tenth programme of the University.

Xi Jinping expressed his gratitude for the honour. He thanked specially Vladimir Putin for the time he had found in his busy schedule to take part in the ceremony. ‘St Petersburg University is famous for its long tradition of oriental studies and having strong staff teaching the Chinese language. In the more than 160 years of its existence, the  Faculty of Asian and African Studies has produced a galaxy of specialists in Chinese language and culture. In recent years, St Petersburg University has maintained close contacts and cooperation with Chinese universities, including Tsinghua University. This is contributing a lot to the spread of Chinese culture in the Russian Federation, and to the study of Russia in China,’ said Xi Jinping.

The ceremony took place during the joint visit to the University by President Vladimir Putin, who is a graduate of St Petersburg University, and the President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping. Vladimir Putin noted that today St Petersburg University is one of the leaders of cooperation between Russia and China in the sphere of science and education. He added that ‘I am especially pleased that my own university, where I studied and as you probably know, had the honour to work as an assistant to the rector, has awarded such an honorary title to the President of the People's Republic of China. And now the rector and the entire university are my assistants, for which I am very grateful. Thank you for your support.’

Before the ceremony, the heads of states visited the exhibition dedicated to the cooperation between St Petersburg University and Chinese partners in education and science. The stand also featured rare Chinese manuscripts and modern books written and translated by the university students. Among other things, the heads of states were shown a unique 17th century handwritten treatise on melting metals, which has been preserved in a single copy. The Rector of St Petersburg University presented a copy of this book to the President of the People's Republic of China. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping were also presented with paintings by Russian and Chinese students.