Belarus president Lukashenko enhances bonds with China, aims for deeper collaboration

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FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko review the honour guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 1, 2023. cnsphoto via REUTERS/File photo

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko held a meeting with China’s leader, Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday which marks their second encounter this year. Lukashenko, who is currently facing diplomatic isolation and Western sanctions, emphasized the economic ties between Belarus and China during the visit.

Lukashenko’s visit, described as a “working visit ” was warmly welcomed by Xi at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. The agenda included a working lunch and extensive discussions that lasted for three hours as reported by state media in Belarus.

While receiving support from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lukashenko endorsed Russia’s intervention in Ukraine in February 2022 allowing the use of territory for the conflict. However Belarus faces challenges due to its reliance on trade with Russia.

According to reports from Chinese state news agency Xinhua Xi stated that “China is willing to strengthen cooperation with Belarus, promote practical collaboration and deepen bilateral relations.” He also emphasized the importance of implementing projects such, as the China Belarus Industrial Park and enhancing cooperation.

According to U.N. Comtrade data from 2021, China stood as Belarus seventh trading partner. Despite being Belarus’ second-largest import partner, the country purchased significantly less from China compared to Russia.

Belarusian President Lukashenko highlighted the potential for increased ties with China. He praised the extensive bilateral visits between Chinese and Belarusian parties since their last meeting in March amounting to over 120 visits.

During their discussions, the focus was on accelerating cooperation between China and Belarus. Lukashenko emphasized that this was the purpose of his visit to Beijing. According to Belarussian state media, Lukashenko expressed that he only wanted to discuss one issue with President Xi; expediting cooperation between the two nations.

President Xi suggested measures to improve cross-border transport facilitation, promote trade initiatives such as the China Belarus Industrial Park and encourage people-to-people exchanges. In light of sanctions faced by Belarus from countries due to its support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and political repression, China’s initiatives offer some solace.

Lukashenko expressed gratitude towards China for its involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative while contrasting it with countries tendencies towards fragmentation. In response, President Xi offered coordination and cooperation between China and Belarus in governance systems emphasizing their significance in reform and development.

Belarus is seeking to strengthen its alliance with China as it navigates the complexities of international relations.

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