Interview of A.Tozik, Belarus Ambassador to the PRC, to BelTA news agency

20 June 2006

The Republic of Belarus and the People’s Republic of China have accumulated great experience in political, economic and cultural sphere for 15-year period of diplomatic relations establishment.

The intentions of both the countries to strengthen strategic partership were confirmed during the official visit of President Alexander Lukashenko to Beijing last December.

On June, 23 A.Tozik, Belarus Ambassador to the PRC, held negotiations with Zhang Deguang, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Secretary General.

On behalf of Belarus authorities the Ambassador congratulated the SCO Secretary on the 5th anniversary of the organization formation, successful and effective SCO 6th Summit.

A.Tozik expressed Belarus willingness to develop cooperation with the SCO and confirmed Belarus request to receive observer status. All the country-members as well as Belarus itself will benefit from Belarus membership in this organization.

Zhang Deguang thanked the Ambassador for detailed statement of Belarusian position and assured him of considering Belarus membership application as soon as favourable conditions are created.

Anatoly Tozik, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Belarus to the People’s Republic of China, in the interview to BelTA news agency expressed assuarance that the successes in various spheres reached help to implement the agreements between the two countries on a new strategic level of bilateral cooperation.

- Anatoly Afanasjevich, do you think that the contractual and legal base of Belarus-China cooperation is sufficient and are there any prospects of its extension?

- The contractual and legal base is satisfactory enough. To my mind there is no need to extend the list of bilateral international and intergovernmental agreements and contracts that now amount to 33 within next 2-3 years. 12 interagency documents are also in effect.

Before last year high-level visit to Beijing a number of documents that we lacked for cooperation in some spheres were worked out. Alexander Lukashenko visit resulted in more than ten bilateral international agreements in particular in such spheres as tourism, mass media, finance, cooperation between executive and regulatory bodies of Belarus and China, interaction in educational area in 2006-2010 period. The National Academy of Science of Belarus and Chinese Academy of Science also signed a cooperation agreement. To sum up there are good foundations for contacts intensification in key spheres.

As for now transform all the agreements reached into actions. In some areas, especially in political and humanitarian, they are implemented to the full extent. As for the economy there is a great deal of work to do, in particular to increase trade turnover, to develop investment cooperation, to create joint ventures.

As I see it, Belarusian manufacturers should actively use the opportunity to increase their production export to China. Belarusian industry produces high-quality competitive goods that can be demanded by Chinese consumers. It concerns Belarusian engineering and hi-tech production first of all.

- Belarus and China leaders reported that trade turnover will increase up to $1.5bln by 2008, and up to $2 bln – by 2010. What will be the reason for such a jump, do you think?

- In my opinion bilateral regional contacts will help to achieve such a result, especially taking into account the needed base for this created. The Chinese market is developing rapidly nowadays and we have to keep pace with it. Our goods are in demand in Chinese market and Belarus should be constantly increasing its market share in this country.

Tight links with at least 6-8 Chinese provinces will contribute to active trade-economic development. At present China is actively developing western regions of the country modernizing industrial base of north-east regions by means of huge investment flows. It means that Belarusian engineering and other production may be demanded in these regions.

For example certain agreements were reached during the visit of Xinjiang autonomous region authorities to Belarus. Chinese guests got acquainted with the Belarusian potential that may be used for their region development. It is the first Chinese regional delegation to show interest to our country, six more delegations are planning to pay a visit this year. These visits favor the increase of Belarus- China trade turnover and will attract investment flows into our economy.

I think heads of Belarusian enterprises should be more active when working with Chinese partners. Belarusian party of the Belarusian-Chinese Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation promote cooperation and joint projects with Chinese partners. We can not only export Belarusian production to China but import modern Chinese equipment for our enterprises modernization and new up-to-date manufacturing processes start using Chinese loans.

As for such large-scale manufacturers as BelAZ, BMZ, MTZ, Gomselmash, Integral, definite steps based on the agreements signed are being taken to increase export to China. In particular, assembly manufacturing of mine trucks with BelAZ vehicle sets has been established in the PRC territory.

MTZ has also signed a license agreement on tractors assembly in China with a Chinese company. MTZ representative office has been opened in China.

I am sure Belarus and China can and should create more joint ventures in the territory of both the countries as joint ventures play significant role in bilateral trade and economic relations development. Unfortunately now Belarus-China joint ventures can be counted on fingers.

- The visit also resulted in the agreement to increase the number of Chinese students in Belarus to 5 thousand.

- That’s right. We have planned to gradually increase the amount of Chinese students who get education at our Universities. Highly-qualified specialists are demanded in China very much due to the rapid growth in all spheres of the national economy.

Belarusian Universities train specialists in various areas and are able to help China. For example, our Medical Universities can render help in providing China with doctors. The PRC lack in such specialists accounts for thousands. Belarus and educational system in particular will tap the gains from additional opportunity to develop the material and technical base of our Universities.

Chinese businessmen are eager to use the services rendered by our colleges and vocational schools. This initiative seems to be prospective for bilateral educational contacts.

Special emphasis I would like to place on the fact that this year will see Confucius Institute in our capital. From the beginning of a new school year one school and two Minsk gymnasiums start teaching Chinese. In 2007 the Chinese language will be taught in regional schools as well.

Minsk final of Belarusian pre-qualifying round of V International Chinese contest “Chinese – bridge” revealed great interest of the Belarusian to educational cooperation development with the PRC.

In Beijing our country will be represented by two students in the final of this contest where 100 people from all over the world will take part.

- The issue of inbound tourism development is urgent for Belarus. Anatoly Afanasjevich, how actively can we cooperate with China in this sphere?

- China has succeeded both in inbound and outbound tourism. Annually millions of tourists visit China to enjoy its unique character. The Chinese themselves are great travel lovers and increasing well-being enables them to visit many countries of the world.

- According to the World Tourism Organization report China is gaining nowadays leading positions in the sphere of tourism. From the point of view of tourism Belarus is unrevealed for China. More active work will help to attract more Chinese tourists and as a result currency flows.

- Direct flight Minsk-Beijing-Minsk restart will contribute to the intensification of Belarus-China cooperation in all the spheres, won’t it?

- Modern reality requires this issue solution. I’m sure in the near future the flight will be opened and consequently it will lead to increase in businessmen, students, tourists’ flows from China to Belarus and vice versa, help to get prepared for Olympiad-2008 and contribute to the further Belarus-China cooperation in all spheres.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus