The Chinese private sector is ready to pave the way for merchandise transit traffic via Belarus because it appreciates safety and transparency.
In turn, Belarus expands presence on the Chinese market and increases the credit of trust for raising investments. Ambassador of Belarus to China Kirill Rudy made the relevant statements in an interview.
Most of the traffic by rail within the framework of the Belt and Road initiative goes through Belarus. “Everything is decided by the private sector. There is no political will at play. If the private sector believes that there are certain risks with regard to the safety of merchandise if the cargoes are routed via some other country, then it routes the cargoes through us.
Apart from that, there is feedback about more transparent work of the Belarusian customs service in comparison with other countries. It is faster and simpler to get these procedures over with in Belarus,” Kirill Rudy explained.
In his opinion, Belarus’ growing export to China is a result of mutual interests. “China is busy implementing reforms, increasing domestic consumption and import and signing free trade agreements, minimising customs duties for other countries with these goals in mind. We are now in a situation when this market is advantageous for us,” Kirill Rudy said.
He also mentioned the importance of recognition of Belarusian brands and the country as a whole. “One Chinese company, which imports beef, has hired Slavonic girls and set up a vocal band in order to promote the Belarusian brand. They are supposed to help open a national Belarusian pavilion styled after Mir Castle in the Chinese city of Chengdu in November,” the Ambassador noted.
The China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone is the main reason why Chinese investments are being poured into Belarus. “In the past investors like Midea and Geely were behind it. Now the company in charge of developing the industrial park and its resident companies are the reason,” the Ambassador noted. As far as the ratio of direct investments to the country’s GDP is concerned, China invests quite a lot in Belarus some $400 million in the last three years, Kirill Rudy said.
Chinese experience in the sphere of high technologies may be beneficial for Belarus. According to the diplomat, the first cultural shock Chinese citizens experience when they come to Belarus is the inability to pay for some services with their phones. It is inconvenient.
“We are now working with Belarusbank, other banking institutions on the possibility of introducing a system of payments using QR codes and tying bank cards to smartphones to make things fast and convenient. China is a cutting-edge country in this regard. It is ahead of the others in terms of mobile payments,” the Ambassador said.
Cultural interaction gains pace as well. They began teaching Belarusian in China not so long ago. A monument to Yakub Kolas was erected in China in 2018. A centre for studying the writer’s work was opened in 2019. There are plans to open a monument to Yanka Kupala soon.
A centre dedicated to him may be opened in the future. A monument to Francysk Skaryna may be unveiled in Beijing. Such things demonstrate the desire of China to understand the culture and mentality of the nations, whose territory the route of the Belt and Road initiative crosses.