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Russian Patriarch Starts First-Ever Visit To China

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (front)
Russia's Patriarch Kirill has started the first-ever visit to China by a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church.

On May 10, the first day of his six-day visit, the patriarch met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

While in China, Kirill will meet with Orthodox believers at the Russian Embassy in Beijing and lead a religious service at the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin in China's northeastern city of Harbin, a city founded by imperial Russia in 1898.

Similar services will be held in a former Orthodox cathedral in Shanghai.

The first Russian Orthodox missionaries arrived in China from Siberia in late 1600s.

The Chinese Orthodox Church split from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1957 when political relations deteriorated between China and the Soviet Union.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax