New breakthrough in partnership relations
[b]President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko visits People’s Republic of China[/b]The capital of China has warmly and hospitably received a distinguished guest, with a great crowd gathering to meet the President of Belarus on arrival. As his cortege left the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, many filmed the procession on their mobile phones, and smiled in welcome. Clearly, friendly relations between our countries exist not only at high levels; ordinary Chinese citizens view Belarusians as friends.
The capital of China has warmly and hospitably received a distinguished guest, with a great crowd gathering to meet the President of Belarus on arrival. As his cortege left the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, many filmed the procession on their mobile phones, and smiled in welcome. Clearly, friendly relations between our countries exist not only at high levels; ordinary Chinese citizens view Belarusians as friends.
President Lukashenko was visiting the People’s Republic of China for the seventh time, having made his first official trip in 1995. The current President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, visited Belarus in March 2010, as the Chinese Vice President. Meanwhile, the previous head of China, Hu Jintao, came to us in 2000. Interstate dialogue has a rich history and continues to develop rapidly.
Mr. Lukashenko stressed that no problems exist relating to our trade, investment or politics, adding that Belarus has always supported the initiatives of the People’s Republic of China within international organisations. “We once dreamt of a sales turnover of $500m between our two states; now, we’ve reached about $3bn. It’s huge progress. China gives as good as it gets and has never failed to support Belarus. Some criticised China and Belarus for violating human rights but all have fallen silent after recent publications detailing how the West has behaved in this sphere. China and Belarus have suffered accusations but have stood firm together,” notes the President of Belarus.
The Head of Belarus is delighted to see our countries closely co-operating in the spheres of space, military-technical equipment and humanitarianism, commenting, “No major problems exist in any of these fields, allowing us to move towards strategic partnership and co-operation between the People’s Republic of China and Belarus.”
Xi Jinping has announced, “Our relations are developing steadily, step by step, now reaching an unprecedentedly high level. A new stage of rampant development has arrived, and the President of Belarus is a great friend of the Chinese people. You’ve made an enormous contribution to the development of Chinese-Belarusian relations. At this historic moment in time, when our relations are moving into a totally new level, your visit, I’m sure, will inspire further development of bilateral co-operation between our countries.”
The President of Belarus responded, “You’ve explained precisely our new level of relations and strategic partnership. We’re developing a new long-term ‘road map’ — as it is needed today. I feel confident that, by the end of the year, our departments and governments will be offering a programme of further co-operation between Belarus and the People’s Republic of China.”
Such a document is already being designed, filled with business content. The Belarusian delegation arrived one day prior to the President, meeting Chinese colleagues to discuss how best to further investment partnerships and interaction in the sectors of energy, automobile building and inter-municipal dialogue, including relating to the Chinese-Belarusian industrial park. All mutual arrangements are being fastened by concrete documents; in a single day, 12 were signed, including one raising $500m for a joint venture manufacturing Geely cars.
Minister of Industry Dmitry Katerinich tells us, “The decision has been taken, with a schedule agreed for plant construction. The projected capacity is 120,000 cars annually. The plant will be constructed according to rigid Volvo standards (bought some time ago by Chinese partners).”
Preferential loans have also been agreed for building transmission lines for the Belarusian atomic power station, notes Belarusian Energy Minister Vladimir Potupchik. Having spoken with Liu Chaoan, the Chairman of the Board of the North China Power Engineering Company (NCPE), he explained, “We talked not only about the future project — which we plan to start on January 1st 2014 — but about possibilities for joint co-operation in third countries and in China. We have well-trained professionals from whom both China and Belarus can benefit.”
Agreements are now also in place for China’s building of a therapeutic complex at Minsk’s Central Regional Hospital and constructing a student hostel. The General Prosecutor’s Office of Belarus and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate of the People’s Republic of China have signed a co-operative agreement, as has our State Military-Industrial Committee and the Chinese State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence. The cities of Minsk and Shenzhen have signed an agreement on friendly delegation exchanges while Guangdong Province and the city of Harbin are creating sub-parks at the Chinese-Belarusian industrial park.
Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Tozik emphasises, “I believe we cannot overestimate the importance of this visit for bilateral relations. A fifth Presidential generation has come to power in the People’s Republic of China while the present visit is the result of a decade of co-operation, allowing strategic directions of development to bear fruit for the future. More than 30 documents, agreements, contracts and records have been signed, including those concerning import and export deliveries, investment projects and credit agreements: these are worth a total of $1.5bn.”
There are so many areas of mutual interest, which find expression in a declaration signed by Mr. Lukashenko and Xi Jinping, noting all-round strategic partnership between Belarus and China. This outlines key political, economic and humanitarian interaction, stating: ‘The parties are set to develop a programme to promote strategic partnership between Belarus and China. Our countries will strengthen mutual support in protecting their basic interests: co-operation in matters concerning state independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, interests of national security and development’.
Belarus has reaffirmed its adherence to the ‘One China’ policy, while China has confirmed its understanding and respect for the independent domestic and foreign policies pursued by the Republic of Belarus. China has also announced its disapproval of external interference in the internal affairs of Belarus under any pretext.
Belarus and China are unanimous in their belief for the need for reform within the United Nations Organisation and its Security Council. They share similar views and approaches to modern international and regional issues, as stated: ‘The parties are against: the use of force or threat of force; the overthrow of lawful governments of other states; unilateral sanctions imposed by some countries against others; and terrorism in all its forms’.
We speak different languages but share a dialogue of mutual principles. Minsk and Beijing have agreed to promote the development of humanitarian co-operation in all spheres and at various levels. The Chinese are keen to welcome more Belarusian students and support the expansion of Chinese language teaching in Belarus. Meanwhile, they have invited 200 Belarusian children from regions affected by the Chernobyl accident for summer respite trips in 2014.
The declaration states that both sides are ‘ready to undertake further measures to assist and simplify mutual trips by citizens, ensuring the safety, legal rights and interests of citizens and legal bodies in each territory’, while creating ‘more favourable conditions for deepening co-operation and exchanges between Belarus and China in various areas’.
Another agreement tackles the investment sphere, dealing with the second stage of electrification for the Gomel-Zhlobin-Osipovichi railway line. China is to allocate an $80m loan for the project, while Belarusian Railways is to supply 18 electric freight locomotives — worth $117m.
A separate contract sees Belarusian Gomselmash supplying 1,500 harvester assembly machine sets to the Belarusian-Chinese agricultural mechanical engineering joint venture: Harbin Dong Jin Gomel. Long-term co-operation has been agreed between the two enterprises, with the joint venture expected to be assembling 2,000 harvesters annually by 2015 — worth $60m.
Collaboration in tractor building is to continue, with contracts signed in Beijing for the supply of 50 sets for Dong Jin Minsk Tractor Co. Ltd. and 300 sets for Ili Yuncheng Company. Meanwhile, MTZ has signed a contract with Chinese CNR Corporation on the joint development of electric motor drives for tractors.
CNR representatives will be liaising with BelAZ, helping Belarus set up casting and wagon-building manufacture in China and the supply of ten heavy-duty dump trucks, as well as spare parts — worth another $13m.
Signed documents include a memorandum between Mogilev’s Regional Executive Committee and Jin De Hua, tackling liaisons in the field of alternative energy sources: a loan of around $50m is being allocated by the Chinese company.
Photovoltaic Technology Co., Ltd. Guangdong Sun Island is keen to build a 10MW photo-galvanic electricity station at the Mogilev FEZ, investing $25m to produce solar modules, while the Great Wall Corporation is to create a technological cluster at the Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park. A similar document has been signed with Chinese ZTE Corporation. Collaboration is expanding in the spheres of power engineering, construction, transport and automobile building, with mutual interest in ICT.
Trade and economic co-operation is basis for development of relations between Belarus and China, noted President of Belarus on meeting Premier of State Council of China, Li Keqiang, in Beijing.
“The President of the People’s Republic of China has arrived at the common view that, whatever our relations may be, personal or interstate, economics guide all. I asked him to help our delegation to establish contacts with China for the future. This will allow us to work more intensively in the sphere of economics and finances and will help the People’s Republic of China work more actively in Belarus,” explains the President of Belarus.
Mr. Lukashenko emphasises the great influence of China in the international arena. “China, as I often say, is an empire without which no issue is solved in today’s world. It should have a presence in Europe and we are ready to promote this, first of all economically.” He wishes to see Belarusian-Chinese relations enter a more ambitious phase, raising the investment component in our credit-investment co-operation. Belarus is especially interested in attracting investors into the Chinese-Belarusian industrial park. “We’ll be grateful to the Chinese government for rendering maximum assistance in this matter, believing that the world will see the most advanced Chinese technologies and developments in our park,” Mr. Lukashenko stresses.
Bio-pharmaceuticals, new materials and information-communication technologies are priority sectors and the Head of Belarus is confident that, with joint effort, we can create a site with no European rival.
Li Keqiang is similarly confident that Mr. Lukashenko’s visit will redefine bilateral relations and inspire multi-faceted co-operation.
Mr. Lukashenko also met the Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Yu Zhengsheng, noting that he is counting on support from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in developing relations between Belarus and China.
Yu Zhengsheng commented that China knows of Mr. Lukashenko’s efforts to promote friendship and co-operation between our two countries. “Moreover, as the President of Belarus, you are seriously fulfilling your duties to protect independence and promote national security,” he underlined. Mr. Zhengsheng believes that the newly signed declaration on establishing bilateral strategic partnerships will stimulate friendship and co-operation between Belarus and China.
“I’m delighted and flattered to receive such praise. The government headed by you holds authority in the People’s Republic of China but I know that your recommendation and advice are essential to strategic decisions in China,” noted the President of Belarus. “The ‘group of wise men’ operates in the interests of the People’s Republic of China, uniting its population and all Chinese living abroad.”
“I hope that your awareness of Belarusian-Chinese relations and your appraisals will become a serious guarantee that you will advise the Chinese authorities to maintain the friendly relations which exist today,” Alexander Lukashenko added.
During his visit to China, the President of Belarus signed 36 documents worth almost $1.5bn in trade and investment, truly setting us on a new path of partnership.
By Vasily Kharitonov