Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is due to start his three-day state visit to China on Tuesday, with expectations high that cooperation between the two countries on post-pandemic economic recovery and the Russia-Ukraine conflict will top the agenda of talks.
The visit comes as China works toward economic recovery after the country's top leadership announced on Feb 16 a "major, decisive victory "in the fight against COVID-19. It also takes place at a time of increased tensions between the West and Russia and the West and Belarus over the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
China and Belarus agreed to upgrade bilateral relations to an all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership, following a meeting between President Xi Jinping and Lukashenko on the sidelines of the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Sept 15.
The Foreign Ministry has hailed the development of bilateral ties. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 31 years ago, political mutual trust between the two countries has been constantly strengthened, mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields has been deepened, and coordination on regional and international affairs has been getting closer.
China looks forward to working with Belarus and taking Lukashenko's visit as an opportunity to pursue further progress in the all-around cooperation between the two countries, ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a news conference on Monday.
During a telephone conversation with Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik on Friday, Foreign Minister Qin Gang said China will continue to support Belarus in its efforts to safeguard national stability and development, and oppose external interference in the country's internal affairs as well as illegal unilateral sanctions against it.
Aleinik said that Belarus fully agrees with and supports the Chinese document, and added China's proposals are of great significance to resolving the crisis.
Western countries including the United States have imposed economic sanctions on Belarus following the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Given the sanctions, analysts said the Belarusian president might use the visit to seek to further enhance the strategic partnership and strengthen economic and trade cooperation with China.
Belarus was one of the first countries to support and participate in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. The China-Belarus Industrial Park, a successful major project, is often referred to as the "pearl of the Silk Road Economic Belt".
Trade volume between the two countries totaled more than $5 billion in 2022, up 33 percent year-on-year, according to the General Administration of Customs.
On Friday, China issued a 12-point position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.
In an interview with Xinhua News Agency before his China visit, Lukashenko said that nowadays, no problem in the world can be resolved without China. He said he appreciated China for pursuing an independent foreign policy of peace, adding that China's position on resolving the Ukraine crisis is a demonstration of such a policy.