Burly Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is in Beijing, and not for just another photo opportunity. Russia means business, to the tune of US$5.5 billion in deals with Chinese companies in areas including energy resources and telecommunications. In one of the higher-profile deals, China National Petroleum Corp is expected to finalize an agreement with Gazprom to increase natural gas exports to China. As it burnishes its relationship with Russia, however, China is proving pricklier with the EU. In the latest development in an ongoing trade dispute about metal fasteners, China has asked the WTO to examine anti-dumping measures imposed by the EU against screws and bolts from China. The EU says China is selling the fasteners below cost in Europe. Further south, China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) is in the process of launching a bid for a West African oil project together with Ghana National Petroleum Corp; CNOOC will be competing with an Exxon Mobil bid that’s considered more likely to succeed given that company’s experience in developing such assets. Meanwhile, back at home, Chinese supermarket operator Times may find itself on the receiving end of a US$513 million takeover bid by South Korean retailer Lotte Shopping. Lotte would go up against a competing US$600 million bid from local retailer Wumart.