Xi touts Putin ties as US tensions bring them closer

Beijing (AFP) - President Xi Jinping gave China's first friendship medal to Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday as the neighbouring giants touted their close ties amid diplomatic and economic challenges from the US.

Xi placed the large golden medal around Putin's neck at the grandiose Great Hall of the People in front of dignitaries from both countries.

China's "highest honour" is bestowed on foreigners who have made "outstanding contributions" to the country's modernisation drive and helped maintain world peace, Xi said.