CHANGCHUN: With the 60th anniversary of Sino-Russian diplomatic ties just months away, Chinese youth are hoping for more frequent mutual exchanges between the two countries, and not only in the fields of language and culture.
"Let's not forget Russia boasts as many as 17 Nobel Laureates. And almost 40 percent of Russia's scientific projects are thriving on vanguard technology," said Nie Weidong, a student of Heilongjiang University's Russian Language School.
"Besides their language and culture, there is a lot more China can learn from Russia, especially in the field of science and technology," Nie said.
Nie's teacher Wang Mingyu, the dean of the Russian Language School, however, believes that learning each other's languages is the most effective way for the two countries to strengthen mutual understanding and friendship.
"It is not surprising that more and more young Chinese are showing an interest in learning the Russian language and culture," Wang said, adding: "What's pleasantly surprising is that a growing number of Russians are showing interest in our language and culture of late."
Wang, who started learning Russian in the late 1960s, a time when Sino-Russian ties were on shaky ground, said a "significant number" of Russians were keen students of China and its culture in his university, as well as in other institutions on the mainland.
"It is only a sign of ever-improving ties between the two nations," said Wang, who was awarded the prestigious Pushkin Medal by the Russian government for extraordinary contributions to Russia in the spheres of culture and education.
Nine non-profit Confucius Institutes, which aim to promote the Chinese language and culture around the world, have been set up so far in Russia.
The Chinese Language Council International said it was the "growing popularity of China and its culture among the Russians" that prompted the establishment of the institutes in Russia.
Music has long been known to bring the world closer, bridging nations together by breaking language barriers. Russia and China are well aware of that.
A Russian music competition, on the lines of American Idol, kicked off in six Chinese cities last month.
Participants, young and old, can even upload their own versions of Russian tracks online and be eligible for the shortlist of the finale that will take place in Beijing in September.
Last year, some 1,570 youths traumatized by last year's massive Sichuan earthquake were invited by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for a "recuperative vacation" in his country.
The second tour, comprising 550 students, will leave for Russia this summer.