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Further developing China-Belarus comprehensive strategic partnership

Editor: Zhang Dan 丨CCTV.com

05-11-2015 17:39 BJT

By Han Lu, research assistant, Eurasian Research Institute, China Institute of International Studies

At the invitation of President Alexander Lukashenko, President Xi Jinping is paying a state visit to Belarus May 10-12.

It has been 23 years since China and Belarus established diplomatic relations. The bilateral relations have withstood severe tests of international vicissitudes and have sustained a healthy and stable development. The two countries have achieved fruitful cooperation in politics, economics, trade, science and technology, military technology and humanities. They have shared identical or similar stands on major international and regional issues. With mutual understanding and support, the two countries have become reliable around-the-clock partners. President Xi Jinping’s visit will be the first for a Chinese president to Belarus after a lapse of 14 years, just in time for the 70th anniversary of victory in the Chinese People’s Anti-Japanese War and the World Anti-Fascist War. The visit will push further development of all-round strategic partnership and become a new milestone in the history of relations between China and Belarus.

China, Belarus constantly improve cooperation

Firstly, the two countries have significantly increased their political trust and established a cooperation mechanism. In recent years, China and Belarus have continuously exchanged high-level visits. The two heads of state have reached wide consensus on deepening bilateral cooperation in various fields. In July 2013, President Xi and President Lukashenko jointly announced in Beijing that bilateral relations would be promoted to a comprehensive strategic partnership, taking bilateral ties into a new era. The China-Belarus Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee held its first meeting in September 2014, officially launching the mechanisms of the committee, secretariat and five subcommittees. The economy and trade, science and technology, security, education and culture subcommittees were set up under the cooperation committee providing for both sides a stable and efficient institutional framework to deepen cooperation.

Secondly, pragmatic cooperation by the two countries has leaped forward. According Belarusian statistics, bilateral trade volume in 2014 reached nearly US$4billion, 100 times higher than the US$40 million when diplomatic relations were first opened. China has become the fifth-largest trading partner of Belarus and its largest trading partner in Asia. Massive investment and financial cooperation have become new highlights in bilateral economic and trade relations and growth. In 2014, China invested more than US$400 million in Belarus, concentrating mainly on the construction industry, appliance manufacturing, machinery and automobile equipment assembly. Belarus took loans from Chinese financial institutions worth nearly US$5.5 billion in support of 23 bilateral cooperation projects in energy, transportation, telecommunications and services. This boosted the scale and level of pragmatic bilateral cooperation. China’s largest investment project in Belarus, the China-Belarus Industrial Park – using Suzhou Industrial Park as the template – was founded in 2014. It is the highest level of Chinese overseas cooperation across the largest area with the most favorable policy conditions. The two governments are focusing on construction of the park and have set up a coordination working group to accelerate implementation of construction.

Thirdly, the two countries have engaged in more active cultural cooperation. The two countries regularly hold activities like tech days, cultural days and so on. Literary and arts organizations of the two nations frequently exchange visits. They also have the Golden Bee Festival, Chinese lunar new year, Chinese movie week, Chinese picture exhibitions and other colorful cultural activities. Chinese fever in Belarus has been intensified as three Confucius Institutes and Confucian classes have been set up. More than 2,000 Chinese study at Belarusian universities. Growing numbers of state-funded Belarusian students are coming to China. They will continue to write the future of friendly relations between China and Belarus. Regional and non-governmental exchanges of the two countries have increasingly expanded. The six states of Belarus have signed cooperative agreements with Chinese provinces and many cities have established sister-city relationships in both countries. China and Belarus will launch direct flights in May 2015. As President Lukashenko says, years of trust between Belarus and China have closely linked the two countries, and they are continuously enriching the comprehensive strategic partnership.

Silk Road Economic Belt construction brings opportunity to pragmatic cooperation between China and Belarus

Belarus is located in the eastern part of the East European Plain, bordering Russia in the east and European Union (EU) members Lithuania and Poland in the west. In the south, it connects with the Black Sea through Ukraine, making it an important Eurasian transport and logistics hub. With Eurasian railways, highways and oil pipelines, communication systems, waterway and air transport links, Belarus connects the Eurasian Economic Union and the EU, the two largest consumer markets. This unique geographical location makes Belarus an important participant in the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt. The Belarusian government also attaches great importance to it and hopes to deepen bilateral economic and trade cooperation, promoting Belarus trade and economic relations with Asia-Pacific and European countries. The economic cooperation idea in the development plan for the China-Belarus comprehensive strategic partnership from 2014 to 2018, signed in January 2014, is highly consistent with the implementation of the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt. We have reason to believe that the two sides will take this visit as an opportunity to utilize Belarus’ unique geographical advantage. Both sides will focus on large model projects such as industrial parks, and expand pragmatic cooperation in infrastructure, high technology and finance and credit. In this way, it will push bilateral economic cooperation to a new level and benefit people of both countries.

Bilateral relations of China and Belarus look forward to a bright future

Belarus is a traditional friend of China in Eurasia. There are no political problems between the two countries. They share the same stance on developing the society and economy of their own countries and advocating the democratization of international relations. China and Belarus have strong complementarities. They both tend to greatly expand pragmatic cooperation in economics and trade, science and technology, culture and other fields. In 2010, Xi Jinping visited Belarus as Chinese vice president. The two countries signed a series of cooperation documents between the two governments, banks and companies, opening a new chapter in bilateral relations. Five years later, President Xi Jinping will pay another visit to Belarus. During the visit, the two heads of state will sign a China-Belarus treaty on friendly cooperation and deliver a joint declaration on further developing and deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership. This visit will open up a new era of China-Belarus strategic cooperation and strengthen bilateral pragmatic cooperation and coordination in international and regional affairs. It will also enhance exchanges and cooperation and consolidate the traditional friendship between China and Belarus. It is believed that in the future, China and Belarus have great potential and prospects in developing the bilateral relationship.

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

 

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