China, Belarus commit to plans

Updated: 2013-07-18 07:13

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

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China is to forge ahead with plans to build an industrial zone in Belarus, a project that will form one of the "pillars and new highlights" of cooperation between the two countries, Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday.

Li made the remarks as he greeted visiting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at the Great Hall of the People.

China and Belarus signed an agreement in 2011 to build an industrial zone in the suburbs of Minsk, the Belarusian capital. Xinhua News Agency said in June that China will invest $5 billion in the project.

According to Chinese and Belarusian officials, Lukashenko has earmarked a plot of land near Minsk International Airport with an area 40 percent larger than Manhattan. Once complete, the zone will accommodate 155,000 residents.

The president has said the industrial zone will enable his country to increase annual exports by $50 billion.

Li told Lukashenko that Beijing expects to expand cooperation with Minsk in areas ranging from trade and investment to technology and energy. Lukashenko, meanwhile, welcomed Chinese companies to Belarus, where he said they would assist in creating mutual benefit.

China and Belarus signed two agreements on Tuesday involving Guangdong province and Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, in the industrial zone.

China, Belarus commit to plans

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko after they signed a joint statement on establishing a bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership in Beijing, capital of China, July 16, 2013. Xi held talks with Lukashenko here on Tuesday.[Photo/Xinhua]

President Xi Jinping and Lukashenko officiated at the signing of the documents, along with 10 other agreements. They also signed a joint declaration announcing the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Yu Sui, a senior adviser at the China Institution for International Strategic Studies, noted that aside from building the joint industrial zone, Lukashenko has appointed an expert who used to work in China as his economic adviser.

"It shows that China's political and economic achievements have attracted Belarus. It expects to boost its economy with the help of China's experience," he said.

Chen Yurong, a senior researcher with the China Institute of International Studies, noted that a major problem in Beijing's cooperation with Minsk is their trade imbalance.

Bilateral trade reached $1.58 billion in 2012, a surge of 21.4 percent compared with that in 2011. China's exports to Belarus totaled $920 million in 2012, while its imports from the European country were worth $660 million. "This is because the two countries are at different stages of economic development, Chinese investment can alleviate the problem," Chen said.

Lukashenko also met top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng on Wednesday, before wrapping up his three-day state visit to China.

Premier Li on Wednesday also met Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who is in China to attend an ecological forum this week in Southwest China's Guizhou province.

Zhang Fan contributed to this story.

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