Dec. 2 (UPI) -- China and Russia launched a natural gas pipeline that connects the countries, more than five years after the two countries agreed to a multibillion-dollar gas supply deal.
In a ceremony in which Russia's Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping were connected by a televised linkup, the two countries claimed the pipeline would boost both economies, Radio Free Europe reported Monday.
"Today is remarkable, a truly historic event not only for the global energy market, [but for] Russia and China," Putin said.
Xi said the new pipeline would raise two-way trade to $200 billion by 2024, while Putin said Russia's trade with China has reached a record $100 billion, up from $87 billion last year, according to RFE.
The pipeline "serves as a model of...mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries," Xi said.
The deal was forged in 2014, when China National Petroleum Corp. and Russia's Gazprom signed a 30-year, $400 billion gas supply deal, China's CGTN reported Monday.
Construction began in June 2015, and the pipeline is expected to be completed in 2020. The ceremony on Monday marked the first-time operation of the east route of the pipeline, according to the report.
The east-route pipeline will provide gas to Chinese consumers as well as to the Russian Far East. It crosses into Heilongjiang Province near the North Korea border. In total, the pipeline measures 3,176 miles, with 2,095 miles of new construction and 1,080 miles of pre-existing pipelines.
Russian officials welcomed the new development, Russia's Tass news agency reported Monday.
"Friendly Russian-Chinese ties have been gradually developing based on the principles of transparency and mutual respect," Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said.
"Strengthening dialogue with China for us is an absolute and long-term priority meeting the goals of ensuring national security and stable social and economic development."
In November at the BRICS Summit in Brazil, Xi had said 2019 is an "important year to open the future of Sino-Russian relations."