Belarus and China have reached a very high level of partnership, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with Xiao Yaqing, Chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission at China’s State Council, on 1 August.
“The year 2017 is special for our bilateral ties. Belarus and China celebrate the 25thanniversary of diplomatic relations. By this anniversary, we have intensified our contacts, joint events, have reached a very high level of partnership between Minsk and Beijing,” the head of state said.
According to Alexander Lukashenko, for all these 25 years he has been keeping an eye on the development of cooperation between Belarus and China. “I could not even think 25 years ago that we will have such relations with the People’s Republic of China. I am glad that we have built such relations with Great China,” the Belarusian leader said.
“Iron friends and all-weather friendship are significant terms which have been included in the lexicon of our relations,” the head of state said.
Alexander Lukashenko remarked that China is a strategic partner of Belarus. The foundation of cooperation between the two countries is friendship and mutual understanding, support in bilateral and multilateral formats.
The President reminded that at the meeting with China President Xi Jinping the sides have once again reaffirmed the status of Belarus as a crucial partner in the implementation of the Belt and Road initiative. “Today we reach an active stage in the fulfillment of our agreements. An example of this is your visit with the representatives of China’s largest corporations which are the pride and force of the Chinese economic model,” the Belarusian leader said. “You have planned substantive meetings and events. They will focus on the main aspect which is the enhancement of economic ties, determining partners and projects for implementation in your country.”
The head of state expressed willingness to build intensive and advanced political relations between Belarus and China on the foundation of strong trade and economic relations. “If it happens, no one will be able to ruin our friendship,” the Belarusian leader is convinced.
“Together with Chinese companies the projects are gaining momentum. The construction of the China-Belarus Industrial Park Great Stone testifies to the fact. I would like (and I know that China President Xi Jinping is of the same opinion) the Great Stone to become an example of joint cooperation so that Chinese corporations could take an active part in the implementation of the project,” the head of state said.
The China-Belarus Industrial Park Great Stone offers the world’s best legal framework for doing business.
He stressed that the Park becomes international. A big interest in it is demonstrated by Belarusian, European, American and Russian companies. Alexander Lukashenko cited an example of the global European operator Duisport which is ready to take part in the management of the Park and apply its experience there.
The meeting was attended by representatives of China’s largest corporations, the majority of which are shareholders and resident companies of the park. “Their example demonstrates mutual benefits and the potential of cooperation in investment,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
According to the President, it is needed to strengthen cooperation in many avenues in the near future. These include direct investment in the park, construction of new high-tech enterprises, companies of tomorrow. “You understand that if we build enterprises of yesterday or even today, we will not be able to sell the products of these enterprises on the markets of the European Union and other markets. We need high-tech enterprises to sell their products in any corner of the planet,” the Belarusian leader noted.
In his words, a huge potential of the joint project gives us hope for a bigger presence of Chinese corporations in the park. “I am convinced that if this process is launched the park will get new breath, new opportunities,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
Another avenue is the development of bilateral projects, the merger of companies, and the integration of their potentials. “We are prepared for it,” the head of state assured.
The President said that joint efforts with state-owned corporations to enhance interaction in military technology may help develop cooperation. “It is quite possible and would be great to set up high-tech military enterprises in the park. These can be joint and Chinese enterprises. Chinese corporations working in the military industry should come to this park,” the head of state said.
Alexander Lukashenko also mentioned the importance of paying serious attention to the development of the tourism potential of Belarus and China.
“I would like to emphasize that your visit to Belarus testifies to concrete and meaningful steps in joint development and creation of the “community with common fate” of Belarus and China. I am convinced that the results of the visit will be seen in the near future,” the Belarusian leader stressed. “We will strengthen the foundation that we are building for future generations with joint ventures, joint business, and necessary conditions for China’s branching out into the center of Europe.”
He praised long-standing friendship between the two countries. “It emerged when no one was speaking about China’s using the opportunities of Belarus. We have been developing relations, and are developing them now. But the main thing is that we have never tried and do not try to make friends against anyone, we do not interfere in someone else’s affairs. We are developing our cooperation on the principles of international law. Belarus and China do not have agreements contradicting these principles. Moreover, they do not violate the stability of this region or the Asian region. We are concerned about the wellbeing of our people both in China and in Belarus. This is our goal,” Alexander Lukashenko stressed.
According to the President, during the international conference aimed at developing the Belt and Road initiative he said that China’s work with other states is special because China does not teach anyone, does not lay any preliminary conditions for cooperation. “China embarks on cooperation with open heart and soul if countries that China is willing to work with are interested. We can say that it is a new era of economic and political relations in the world, relations without pressure, preliminary conditions, and only on a mutually-beneficial basis. This is a peculiarity of the policy of the great and wise Chinese people,” the head of state said.
He pointed out the fact that China is consistently implementing all agreements in the development of cooperation with Belarus. “You have promised to open your market for our foodstuffs, and you have opened the market for our meat and dairy products. You have promised assistance in the manufacturing industry, and you fulfill your promises. You have promised to support our defense capacity and security of our state, and you have done it. You should know that we are proud of it and will always remember it,” the President said.
Alexander Lukashenko added that he is ready to discuss any cooperation issues with China and stressed that there are no closed topics in this field.
The participants considered the prospects for the development of the China-Belarus industrial park. Belarus and China consider launching an investment fund worth over $0.5 billion to attract new residents to the China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone. The fund is designed to be as large as $585 million and can be further increased to $1 billion and more, if need be.
Apart from the investment fund, the plans for boosting the cooperation between Belarus and China include stepping up research to study market demand for certain products, offering professional training and advanced training of employees for the companies that are residents of the Great Stone park.
The park is expected to be included in the list of projects overseen by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission at China’s State Council. This will create additional opportunities for granting assistance with attracting investors and addressing matters of cooperation between state-owned enterprises.
The agenda of the meeting also included issues related to the development of tourism, air travel, and removal of visa barriers.
The Belarusian officials promised Chinese businessmen every support with the resolution of any arising issues and implementation of different projects.
Xiao Yaqing emphasized that the delegation accompanying him on his visit to Belarus, which includes representatives of major Chinese corporations, aims to carry out the agreements reached by the leaders of the two countries. “The companies represented in our delegation are among the world’s top 500 largest and strongest enterprises,” Xiao Yaqing stressed.
He thanked the Belarusian head of state for the all-round support provided to Chinese enterprises in Belarus, in particular, for the assistance with the implementation of the Great Stone project. For instance, Decree No.166 of 12 May 2017 created the most favorable legal conditions for commercial activity for the Great Stone park residents that are unparalleled in Belarus and other EAEU member states. “We have seen that a great deal of work has been done in many areas to develop the park and encourage companies to become its residents. This will help us make the project international, create favorable conditions and business climate,” the head of the Chinese delegation noted.
Summing up the meeting, the Belarusian leader said that the talks and substantive discussion will help make a considerable step forward in terms of cooperation. Presently, the strategy for the development of the Belarusian-Chinese relations is based on the principle of “progressing ahead of time”.