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15 September 2022, 16:47

Lukashenko, Xi Jinping meet in Samarkand

SAMARKAND, 15 September (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and China President Xi Jinping met in Samarkand where the heads of state are expected to participate in a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on 15-16 September, BelTA has learned.

Xi Jinping stated: “Dear President Lukashenko, my good friend, I am very glad to meet with you. It is our first face-to-face meeting since the pandemic began. A meeting of old friends is always warm. Our bilateral relations have been incessantly advancing over the 30 years of China-Belarus diplomatic relations. Together with Mister President the reached agreements are being effectively realized, all-round cooperation of the two countries is characterized by strength and resilience. As a result of the meeting we are passing a joint declaration on establishing relations of all-weather and all-round strategic partnership and implement a historic upgrade of our cooperation to a new level.”

Xi Jinping assured he is ready to continue working together with Aleksandr Lukashenko to realize mutual political support and activate the entire complex of China-Belarus cooperation for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries. The China president also expressed gratitude for the close attention paid to China-Belarus relations.

In turn, Aleksandr Lukashenko assured China President Xi Jinping of the reliability of Belarusian friendship.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Dear Chairman, I thank you for the kind words you've just said. If you want to know our attitude to the People's Republic of China and to you personally right now, you can multiply what you've said by two. You have always been not simply a solid and reliable friend for us but a serious support in these complicated times. You know what those are as well as I do.”

The Belarusian leader said: “I'd like to once again reaffirm our determination to advance the relations. We have always supported China on all matters of principle. Such as economic growth, unity, integrity of China, the ‘One China' policy. We've always stood by you on all matters and even if someone wanted to rebuke us for something, they would not find a reason to. It will always be like that. We are reliable friends. Whatever it may cost us, if we've promised, we will stick to this policy and practice.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko also thanked his Chinese counterpart for the fact that in these complicated times – the pandemic and instability in the world – the sides had found strength and resolve to advance the relations to a new level of iron brotherhood, exemplary all-round strategic cooperation and all-weather partnership. “To a very decent and worthy level. And we will do everything for you not to regret it and not be mistaken about your choice,” the Belarusian head of state assured.

Words of gratitude were also offered in exchange for supporting Belarus' intention to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. “As I was meeting with your colleagues, members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, I said that no country is likely to make any complaints about Belarus regarding the observance of principles of cooperation within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. And such a not-insubstantial and reliable friend in Europe like Belarus will always be useful not only for the Shanghai organization but also for China,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also thanked the Chinese minister of foreign affairs, the entire Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chinese Commerce Ministry for resolute and prompt actions in the course of realizing agreements. “The [industrial park] Great Stone that you and I founded in Belarus is growing larger despite hindrances of individual countries. We are determined to continue its development,” the Belarusian leader stated.

Aleksandr Lukashenko added: “I'd like to personally thank you for supporting the development of the biotechnology industry. I thank our Chinese friends. We've agreed that we will meet in Minsk soon and will think about how we can expand our cooperation not only in biotechnologies but also in math, physics, and optoelectronics. In the areas where our technologies are sufficiently advanced, the technologies the People's Republic of China needs.”

The Belarusian head of state had met with China President Xi Jinping 11 times: during visits to China in 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, on the sidelines of the Tashkent summit (2016), the Astana summit (2017), the Bishkek summit (2019) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as well as during Xi Jinping's visit to Belarus in 2015.

In September 2016 the leaders of Belarus and China established relations of trustful all-round strategic partnership and mutually beneficial cooperation. An agreement in principle was reached on advancing the relations to “iron brotherhood, exemplary all-round strategic cooperation and all-weather partnership”.

With a view to addressing priority tasks in the course of advancing relations with China and with a view to taking practical cooperation to new heights Aleksandr Lukashenko signed Directive No.9 “On advancing bilateral relations of the Republic of Belarus with the People's Republic of China” on 3 December 2021.

China is traditionally one of Belarus' top three trade partners. In 2021 Belarus-China trade reached $5.1 billion (111.5% as against 2020), with Belarus' export at $911.9 million (117.3%) and import at $4.19 billion (110.3%). In January-July 2022 Belarus-China trade amounted to $3.07 billion (110.2% as against January-July 2021), with Belarus' export at $943.3 million (198.9%) and import at $2.13 billion (92.4%).

The main growth points of export to China include potash fertilizers, frozen beef, poultry meat and edible offal, sawn timber, condensed and dry milk and cream, defense and security products, milk whey. Belarus' export to China is dominated by food and agricultural products. Belarus is one of China's top 10 suppliers of potash fertilizers (3rd place), milk whey (5th place), meat products such as chicken meat and beef (7th and 9th places), rapeseed oil (11th place).

As of 1 August 2022 as many as 162 Belarusian producers were certified to sell their products to China, including 63 producers of dairy products, 18 producers of frozen beef, 11 – frozen chicken meat, 9 – frozen berries, 7 – processed fish products. Over 20 producers represent confectionery, alcohol products, and other spheres of food industry.

In 2021 China's investments in Belarus amounted to $109.2 million (104.5% as against 2020), with direct investments at $74.8 million (137.6%). A significant increase in investment activity has been registered this year.

In 2021 over 50 investment projects were in progress in Belarus with participation of Chinese companies, including 44 projects in the China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone. The industrial park accounts for most of the incoming investments. All the participants have invested $753.7 million in the park. The share of state investments is minimal – 5% or about $35.6 million. For the sake of improving legal control and improving the investment climate a presidential decree was passed on 11 June 2021. It provides for an increase in the permitted types of activity, support for startups, and enables preferential terms for major investment projects. As of 10 August 2022 the China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone was home to 93 resident companies from 15 countries, including 46 with Chinese capital. The total declared investments stand at $1.25 billion. Eight new resident companies were registered in 2022, including four with Chinese capital.

Belarus-China cooperation in credit and finance sphere develops vigorously. As many as 25 projects worth nearly $4.73 billion have been implemented thanks to loans from the Chinese government under effective credit agreements. Four projects worth $2.26 billion are being implemented.

A number of technical and economic aid projects are in progress. Three key avenues of cooperation in the medium term till 2025 have been determined: the projects “National football stadium” and “International-standard swimming pool”, support for the development of the China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone, assistance with stability and security.

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