Topics likely to include pipeline routes and power plant investments Energy is expected to top the agenda of a three-day state visit to Russia by President Hu Jintao beginning tomorrow, Sino-Russian experts say. Much attention will be on a pipeline carrying oil from eastern Siberia, with China and Japan subtly competing for routes in their favour. To China's disappointment after months of lobbying, Russia announced in January that it favoured a Pacific Ocean terminus for the pipeline from Siberia's Angarsk oilfields, for sales to Japan and the United States. However, Chinese officials may have sighed in relief after Moscow announced in April that it would build a branch pipeline from Skovorodino near the Sino-Russian border to China. Observers are expecting Mr Hu's visit to produce clearer indications of how the project will be realised. They expected the summit between Mr Hu and Russian President Vladimir Putin to touch on the issue. A former Chinese diplomat to Russia, Qin Xuanren , now a professor at China's University of International Business and Economics, said Beijing was closely watching island border disputes between Russia and Japan. It was also watching to see if Mr Putin visited Japan later this year, because such a trip might indicate that Russia had made a final decision on the pipeline terminus in Japan's favour. Scholars are also expecting to see more energy co-operation between China and Russia. During a conference in St Petersburg earlier this year, Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan announced a Chinese investment of US$1.5 billion and academics believe a significant portion will go to power plants. Bai Sihong, a Chinese academic at Moscow's International Business Academy, said Russian power plants had long sought investment from China, but Beijing had made no commitment before. 'But now since they are preparing for the [revaluation] of the yuan, I believe they would like to invest the US dollars in their foreign reserves in projects abroad,' he said. Xia Yishan , a professor from the China Institute of International Studies, said he believed China would be interested in investing in hydropower projects near the Russian border. He said that since both countries had settled their border disputes, they would now focus on consolidating ties and forging more economic and political co-operation. Mr Xia also expected the two sides to sign a document expressing their views on global issues. He believed Mr Hu and Mr Putin would have in-depth discussions on a wide range of topics as both sides were consolidating their common ground. Despite differences of views in many areas, including the reform of the United Nations Security Council, Russia would need China to balance the pressure from the US and Japan, he said.