China supports Belarus efforts to protect National Independence and Opposes Outside interference in the Country’s Internal Affairs, Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Belarus Xie Xiaoyong said in an Interview.
The Ambassador recently presented his credentials to Belarusian head of state Aleksandr Lukashenko. The head of the diplomatic mission gave his view of the cooperation between Belarus and China at the current stage, talked about Cooperation amid the COVID-19, touched on the prospects of cooperation, and shared his impressions about Belarus.
Q. Ambassador, how do you view the Belarus-China Relations at the current stage and what are, in your opinion, the main achievements in cooperation between China and Belarus? What are the priorities of business contacts in the current global economic situation?
Ambassador: In recent years, under the strategic leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, the China-Belarus trust-based comprehensive strategic partnership and mutually beneficial cooperation have been developing dynamically and progressively. In my opinion, these relationships have two distinctive features.
The first one is mutual respect and equal treatment of each other. Frequent high-level contacts are maintained and political trust is constantly deepening. Friendship between the peoples of the two countries has been growing stronger.
The second feature is mutual assistance and mutually beneficial cooperation. Both sides firmly support each other on the issues relating to national interests and important matters. China supports the efforts of Belarus to protect national independence and sovereignty, opposes outside interference in the internal affairs of Belarus, supports the development path chosen by Belarus in line with country-specific needs and priorities.
It is important that China and Belarus, working together in economy and trade, investment, science and technology, education and culture, are committed to the principle of mutual benefit and have achieved great results.
At present, business cooperation between our countries has two priorities. The first one is to deepen the joint development of the Belt & Road Initiative. Belarus was one of the first countries to respond to this Chinese initiative and to join in.
The China-Belarus Industrial Park Great Stone has become an exemplary project of the Belt & Road Initiative. Even in today’s turbulent times connected with the Pandemic, the Industrial Park continues to develop. As of the end of October, there were 66 resident companies from 14 Countries, the volume of committed investments was about $1.2 billion.
Resident companies work in such industries as engineering, biopharmaceuticals, new materials, electronic communications. Both countries are determined to make the China-Belarus Industrial Park Eco-friendly, open, safe, high-tech and innovative.
Another priority area of cooperation is the further expansion of trade and economic ties. China is the third biggest trading partner of Belarus, and Belarus is an important trading partner of China in the Eurasian region. According to the Belarusian statistics, the bilateral trade in 2019 amounted to a record of $4.6 million.
Amidst global economic turbulence and the pandemic, the trade between China and Belarus amounted to $3.128 billion in January-September 2020, down by only 2.8% year-on-year. This demonstrates a fairly strong potential in today’s difficult circumstances, which is very important. Thus, Belarus’ supplies of agricultural products to China reached a record $190 million, an increase of 1.3 times.
The 3rd China International Import Expo was held in Shanghai on 5-10 November. Belarus participated in it for three years in a row. Belarusian services companies and food producers signed letters of intent worth more than $31 million. This is a good outcome.
I would also like to note that cooperation in investment is another success story. According to Belarusian statistics, in 2019 China invested $1.17 billion in Belarus, including $390 million in direct investment.
By the way, the fifth meeting of the Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation of the China-Belarus Intergovernmental Committee on Cooperation was held by teleconferencing on 30 October. It resulted in agreements aimed at creating even more favorable conditions for the exchange of information on trade and economic issues and for cooperation between companies of China and Belarus.
I am sure that the China-Belarus relations have great prospects, and bilateral business cooperation has great potential. China welcomes more Belarusian products on the Chinese market, as these products have a high quality and competitive edge. China also supports the expansion of investment cooperation between enterprises of the two Countries.
Q. COVID-19 is raging all over the world. What is your take on the anti-epidemic cooperation between China and Belarus?
Ambassador: After the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic in China, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko sent a message to President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping to express his sympathy. Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed the Belarusian government to send medical supplies to China by military aircraft twice. Government members, business people, teachers and students of Belarusian universities, one after another, filmed videos and wrote letters of support to the Chinese people fighting against the epidemic.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic reached Belarus, China deeply empathized with the country and fully supported it. The Chinese government, local authorities, the Chinese Embassy in Belarus and Chinese-funded companies have provided many batches of anti-epidemic products to Belarus.
Medical experts from the two countries held numerous video conferences to share experience in preventing and controlling the COVID-19 epidemic.
China and Belarus have joined forces, providing each other with support and assistance. It reflects the high level and a special nature of China-Belarus relations. It also shows that Chinese and Belarusian people have acted as true friends.
The world has been recently hit by the second wave of the virus pandemic, and the efforts to combat it have greatly intensified. China is making new progress in research and development of COVID-19 vaccines and has promised to share its vaccines as a global public good with all countries. China is also ready to cooperate with Belarus in vaccine development.
As a comprehensive strategic partner, China is committed to its anti-epidemic cooperation with Belarus, ready to provide it with all possible assistance in combating the coronavirus and restoring social and economic development.
Q. Recommendations for the development of the 14th Five-Year Plan of China and the goals through 2035 were approved at the meeting of the Fifth Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China of the 19th convocation. What are the main points of the document? Will it affect the future mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Belarus?
Ambassador: This is a good question. The meeting was held in Beijing on 26-29 October. The most important outcome of the meeting was the adoption of the recommendations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China regarding the development of the 14th Five-Year Plan of Social and Economic Development (2021-2025) and the perspective goals through 2035.
It is a policy document that opens up a new way for building a modernized socialist state in China. It is not only a guide to China’s economic and social development for the next five years and beyond. The document provides more space and numerous opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries. The main points of the final document are many. I would like to highlight four most important of them.
The first one means a new stage of development. China’s economy is shifting from rapid growth to high quality development. Its pursuit of speed and scale is taking a back seat, and more attention is paid to quality, efficiency, fairness, security and sustainability of development.
The second one is new development architectonics. China has been gradually developing it, putting the focus on the internal factor, with the internal and external cycles assisting each other. China will keep pursuing the policy of reforms and openness, promoting the dual-cycle model of development in future.
Thirdly, this is a new development concept. It comprises such notions as innovation, synergy, environmental sustainability, openness, and shared use. I would like to elaborate on the notions of ‘innovation’ and ‘shared use’. Innovation should be the driving force of the country’s development, and scientific and technological independence is its strategic support.
Shared use means upgrading and improving the systems of basic social services and public administration to achieve general prosperity, comprehensive development of an individual, and the progress of the society as a whole.
Fourthly, this is a new development requirement. What kind of development does the Communist Party of China want to achieve? This kind of development relies on the people, provides its results to the people, and meets the growing needs of the people for a better life, consistently raising prosperity and enhancing security.
I would like to stress: China will devote every effort to comprehensively increasing the openness, which not only complies with China’s development needs, but also benefits all other countries, including Belarus. China, with its population of 1.4 billion people and with over 400 million people with a middle income, remains the world’s largest market of the greatest capacity. We expect total imports to exceed $22 trillion in the next ten years.
China will continue implementing the policy of openness at a larger, greater scale, promoting international cooperation, working towards mutual gains and mutually beneficial results, facilitating the liberalization of trade, and investment, and advocating the proper joint implementation of the Belt & Road initiative. These efforts will definitely give a strong impetus to the revival and development of the world economy.
Q. Ambassador, Could you, please, share your first impressions about our Country?
Ambassador: I visited Belarus for the first time in November 2019 as the head of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization observation mission at the parliamentary elections. My first impressions about Belarus, namely about Minsk, were that it is beautiful, clean, and orderly, people are sincere and friendly, the country has the feel of rich culture.
Of course, as I have worked as a Chinese diplomat in the Commonwealth of Independent States for a long time, I am familiar with Belarus. I have always been interested in its politics, economy, culture, and history.
I like Belarus and I have a special warm regard for Belarusians. Working as the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Belarus is a great honor and responsibility for me. I am ready to cooperate closely with our Belarusian friends and partners from various fields and pool efforts to advance the multifaceted strategic Belarus-China partnership for the benefit of the two countries and two nations.