In July 2013, China’s President Xi Jinping and President Alexander Lukashenko adopted a joint decision, in Beijing, to move Belarusian-Chinese relations (as part of our all-round strategic partnership) to a new level, to accelerate the development of this partnership and to stimulate cooperation across all spheres on a large scale.
The historically important visit of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, to Belarus in April 2015, has brought considerable success in improving bilateral inter-state relations, while giving new impetus to their development. The heads of our two states signed a treaty ‘On Friendship and Cooperation between the Republic of Belarus and the People’s Republic of China’, stipulating in written form relations of mutual trust and friendship between our two states.
The Belarusian Government is paying ever more attention to strengthe-ning collaboration with the PRC. President Lukashenko released Directive #5, on the development of bilateral relations with the People’s Republic of China, both sides being ready to support each other across important issues. Mutual trust between our two states is constantly growing, while real business cooperation deepens and various significant advantages appear for residents of both Belarus and China. Day after day, communication between our two states becomes ever closer.
Belarusian-Chinese relations are notable for their mutual trust, equality, cooperation and mutual benefit. They are characterised by commitment to developing the potential of bilateral inter-state relations across all areas of collaboration. Also, they are notable for making maximum use of advantages and the mutual complementarity of our territorial locations, aiding business interaction, to spur on greater successes for our mutual benefit.
Trade and economic cooperation
During Xi Jinping’s visit to Belarus, in April 2015, it was announced that Belarus would receive $7bln of financial assistance, over 40 documents being signed on trade-economic cooperation. In 2015, trade between our two states had a surplus balance and China became Belarus’ third most important trade partner worldwide, and second most important importer. According to Belarusian statistical data, total trade turnover totalled $3.81 billion — up 5.6 percent on the same period of the previous year.
Over recent years, with support from Chinese financial institutions, we have implemented several major projects in power engineering, base infrastructure, industrial production, and construction of the Industrial Park, which have significantly contributed to the socio-economic development and modernisation of the Republic of Belarus. According to statistical data, we have realised around thirty projects together — worth $6bln.
The construction of three cement plants and reconstruction of Minsk electric power stations #2 and #5 is complete, as is reconstruction and electrification of railways, re-building of state highway M5, the supply of electric trains and the development of IT. A Chinese engineering company has been awar-ded for ‘Engineering Works Beyond the Country’s Borders’ (the Luban Award) for constructing the Beijing Hotel and two electric stations. Moreover, Chinese enterprises have won a tender in Belarus to receive a loan from the World Bank. Chinese entrepreneurship, equipment, technologies and services have gained a positive reputation in Belarus.
The Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park is a joint construction project. Chinese enterprises are taking an active part worldwide in setting up this largest foreign trade economic zone. Our heads of state are paying special attention to this project, personally overseeing the progress of works. On April 12th, 2015, Xi Jinping and Alexander Lukashenko personally inspected the Industrial Park and outlined major goals and areas of work. Construction and development of the Industrial Park will mark the entrance into a new epoch, while the attraction of new investments will ensure sustainable development.
A year has passed and the first stage of development of the Industrial Park has been launched, with positive results: construction is in full swing while investments are being attracted for the 3.5 sq.km territory. It operates under the principle ‘One Flat Place: Seven Connections’. A range of major infrastructural facilities have been laid, including a four-lane (in each direction) motorway, running for 11km, water supply and sewe-rage, power supply, communication and other underground utilities.
The construction of the Bureau for Attracting Investments into the Chinese-Belarusian Park for Trade and Logistics, covering 100,000 sq.m, has been finished, as has a trade and exhibition centre, a business centre and a bonded warehouse. These are to come into operation this year. At present, the 8,000 sq.m administrative building and a 12,000 sq.m factory building are under construction, with a building also launched to manufacture super-condensers, by Chinese Chengdu Xinzhu and Belarusian nano-pectins. A project dealing with power transmission and conversion is complete, with start-up works launched. Increasing numbers of enterprises are showing interest towards the Park; truly, its popularity is growing.
Belarus and China are scrupulously honest in investing into advanced technologies for the Industrial Park. The next stage of development is the optimisation of its mechanisms, with improved legislation, a steady political course and highly-efficient, quick, comfortable and quality services offered to companies wishing to join this economic zone.
Belarus and China are known to be good friends and partners, with the Republic of Belarus being one of China’s key partners in building the Silk Road Economic Belt. Joint construction of the Industrial Park is a platform for mutually beneficial and eco-friendly internationalisation of industry. This economic zone will become a pearl of our bilateral interaction and the Silk Road Economic Belt, as well as a driving force for the ‘green’ economic potential of Belarus.
Belarus-China educational cooperation started long ago, yielding positive results. Back in the 1990s, Chinese students arrived in Belarus to study and to enhance their qualifications. Now, about 2,000 Chinese students are registered at Belarusian universities, working diligently to achieve good results. Each year, three or more young people are awarded scholarships as ‘Outstanding Students’, from the Chinese State Fund for Education Abroad. Meanwhile, the best students from Xinjiang studying at Belarusian universities are given a scholarship as ‘Outstanding Students from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous District’.
This helps inspire good results and, of course, the level of education in the Republic of Belarus is notably high. Two years ago, the Chinese State Fund for Education Abroad finally included Belarus among its programmes of ‘Post-graduate Study in Construction, at Higher Educational Establishments Abroad’ and ‘Preparation of Specialists in the Sphere of Arts’. Since last year, four scholarships have been awarded to study as part of these programmes in Belarus, enabling recipient students to study abroad at the expense of the state.
In 2015, the Chinese and Belarusian governments signed a new agreement on cooperation in education, with collaboration between our two states’ higher educational establishments strengthened, thanks to the efforts of our governments. The Harbin Institute of Technology, the Dalian University of Technology and Belarusian universities have agreed on joint training of post-graduates. Particular focus is being given to economic construction and collaboration, to meet today’s economic development needs, and to promote contacts, for mutual benefit.
At the same time, the two sides have decided to increase the number of students studying abroad at state expense. In 2016, twenty-six people will arrive in Belarus to receive degrees at master and doctorate level, while around forty people from Belarus will go to China with the same purpose. The Chinese Government has prepared a widely developed system of scholarships for students from Belarus: governmental scholarships, scholarships from higher educational establishments, scholarships from the Confucius Institute and local scholarships.
Collaboration in education between our two countries is set to bring wonderful results; the prospects are boundless. This reinforces the foundation of friendly relations between our states, facilitating closer contacts in political, economic and cultural areas.
Joint sci-tech projects
Belarus-China sci-tech cooperation has always been an important element of bilateral inter-state relations and has been for many years a foundation for mutual benefit, while being part of the work of the Committee for Sci-Tech Co-operation. In recent years, the number of spheres for joint projects has increased and contacts between specialists have come closer. Joint projects are being implemented across optics, microelectronics, materials sciences, machine building and many other spheres.
The Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China and the State Committee for Science and Technology of the Republic of Belarus constantly apply efforts to stimulate collaboration between our state enterprises and scientific research institutes, creating a new model of relations. This June, Minsk hosted the 1st session of the Sci-Tech Committee of the Chinese-Belarusian Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee (the12th session of the Sci-Tech Chinese-Belarusian Intergovernmental Committee for Cooperation). During the meeting, we signed a Protocol of Main Goals of Joint Financial Support of Cooperation in Research and Development, which will form the basis for the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and State Committee for Science and Techno-logy of Belarus to allocate financial assistance to jointly elaborated research and design projects. The first twenty-five projects have been outlined, and will receive financing.
In May 2015, in the presence of Xi Jinping and President Lukashenko, an Agreement on the Creation of the Bilateral Cultural Centre of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Belarus was signed in Minsk. Our two countries have successfully conducted Days of Culture ten times.
In October 2015, Minsk hosted the 1st session of the Cultural Committee of the Chinese-Belarusian Intergovernmental Committee for Cooperation, signing a protocol. Belarusian-Chinese cultural ties are successfully developing, yielding superb results. Our governments are promoting stronger ties of friendship between our two nations while ensuring better mutual understanding and communication in the sphere of arts.
Recently, the Director of the National Library of Belarus visited China as part of a delegation of Belarusian painters. A joint event was organised in the city of Chóngqìng, to create and showcase paintings. A Chóngqìng de-legation is expected to visit Belarus next year, to conduct a similar event, aiming to reinforce contacts between our two countries’ artists.
Over recent years, Chinese artistic delegations have arrived in Belarus many times. According to incomplete statistical data, from February 2015 to August 2016, Belarus was visited by several dozen delegations of Chinese artists, musicians and cultural experts. For example, in February 2015, Belarus was visited by the Nanjing Opera and Ballet Theatre troupe, with its ‘Enjoying the Holiday of Spring’ programme, featuring a range of performances.
In February, Minsk also hosted the 22nd International Book Trade Fair and, in April 2015, Mogilev Region hosted a pictorial exhibition as part of its Day of Nanjing Culture. Meanwhile, in July 2015, the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles organised an exhibition entitled ‘Chinese Twelfth Nationwide International Mobile Painting Exhibition — Belarus’, at the National Library of Belarus.
In October 2015, Days of Chinese Culture were held in Minsk while, in November 2015, representatives of the Chinese Research Art Institute took part in the 4th ‘Traditional Culture as a Strategic Resource for Sustainable Development of Society’ forum, held in Mogilev. In February 2016, the Publishing Corporation of Beijing took part in the 23rd International Book Trade Fair in Minsk.
In February 2016, Minsk hosted the 2nd ‘Enjoying the Holiday of Spring’ Festival, where a company from the Henan Province presented an impressive theatrical performance to Belarusian audiences. In March 2016, famous pianist Li Yundi performed in a concert hall in Belarus as part of his European tour, demonstrating a high level of mastery and expression.
In May 2016, the National Library of Belarus successfully hosted a cinema festival, dedicated to the 111th anniversary of Chinese cinematography. In July 2016, during the 25th International ‘Slavianski Bazaar’ Festival of Arts, Chinese painters in the guóhuà style organised a joint exhibition with Belarusian artists, at Vitebsk’s concert hall.
Tourism, strengthening contacts between our nations, has begun to play an active role in Chinese-Belarusian relations. On May 1st, 2015, Air China mapped a new Beijing-Minsk route and, on May 3rd, a delegation from the city of Sanya invited Belarusians to take part in the ‘China-Belarus Cooperation in the Sphere of Tourism’ seminar. Fourteen tourist agencies from Belarus joined heads of hotels, cooperatives and other organizations of tourist districts of the city of Sanya in analysing how best to expand collaboration. Particular focus was given to extending inbound tourism of Belarusian citizens, allowing them to see the diversity of the People’s Republic of China. Tourist agencies of the city of Sanya signed an agreement on Strategic Cooperation with these fourteen Belarusian tourist companies, moving simple interaction into strategic collaboration.
Sanya’s tourist companies and Belarus’ largest tourist operator, TOP TOUR, have been successfully liaising, organising a presentation entitled ‘International Tourism: Sanya-Minsk’, in Minsk, which was broadcast by various local TV channels.
In October 2015, China Intourist signed an agreement on visa-free travel for groups of tourists, approved by the lower chamber of Parliament in May 2016. Relations between our two states in this sphere continue to develop. In March 2016, Gansu Province and Grodno Region signed a range of agreements on cooperation, including in the sphere of tourism.
Belarus is a wonderful, quiet country with amiable and hospitable people, rich in natural and tourist resources: a country of ‘Ten Thousand Lakes’. The famous Belovezhskaya Pushcha is located here, while the country’s flora and fauna are diverse. Belarus boasts many historical and cultural monuments, including Mir and Nesvizh castles, Stalin’s Line, Khatyn Memorial and Brest Fortress.
Since arriving, as Chinese Ambassador to the Republic of Belarus, I’ve visited numerous interesting places, and have enjoyed its natural beauty, as well as seeing its cultural relics, and have felt the hospitality of Belarusian people, as well as their sincere friendship with the Chinese nation. I hope that Belarus will be visited by more tourists from China, so that they may also feel this personally.
China boasts rich tourist resources, possessing many centuries-old cultural and historical sites, such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Dūjiāngyàn Irrigation System, the wonderful natural landscapes of Zhangjiajie, Jiuzhaigou Reserve, and Qomolangma Mount (that touches the sky). China also has the boundless prairies of Inner Mongolia, and the endless curve of the Greater Khingan Mountains, as well as the island of Hainan, surrounded by blue waters.
Of course, there are also rapidly developing cities and villages — full of life — as well as hospitable and friendly Chinese people. I’d like to see more Chinese tourists in Belarus; however, I’d also like to see Belarusian tourists in China. Good friends need to move towards each other. Only then can we understand one another and strengthen our friendship.
The forthcoming visit
In response to the invitation of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, will arrive in the People’s Republic of China in late September, on a state visit. He will exchange opinions regarding the current state and the future development of our bilateral relations while discussing further plans to develop and to reinforce bilateral interaction. This meeting of our two leaders is the most important this year. At present, our countries maintain relations of deep trust and close communication. However, the coming meeting will undoubtedly inspire a new level of bilateral collaboration.