China / Politics

Belarus aiming to play its role for Silk Road

By REN QI, LI XIAOKUN and MO JINGXI (China Daily) Updated: 2014-01-22 03:32

Belarus wants to use its location to get the best out of the Silk Road Economic Belt project that Beijing will roll out this year, the Eastern European nation"s prime minister said on Tuesday

Mikhail Myasnikovich told China Daily, "The ancient Silk Road connected China with Europe, and we believe that this time our country will play its due role."

Myasnikovich was speaking in an exclusive interview at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing.

President Xi Jinping raised the proposal to build an economic belt to increase cooperation between China and Eurasian countries when he visited Kazakhstan in September.

The annual Central Economic Work Conference held in December, which set the tone for major economic tasks this year, also vowed to promote the economic belt.

Belarus was one of the lands to benefit from the ancient Silk Road more than 2,000 years ago and Myasnikovich said, "There is a positive perception of the proposal in our country."

He said Belarus, "at the crossroads of an important trade route linking the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and Russia to the European Union", has a very special location on the route.

Belarus wants to push for related projects and to build a transport corridor to help the country"s logistics sector, he said.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, China"s exports to Belarus reached $1.62 billion in the first seven months of 2013, a year-on-year increase of 46.7 percent.

However, exports from Belarus to China in the same period stood at $363 million, a rise of only 5.6 percent.

Myasnikovich said Belarus plans to build a logistics distribution center with help from China.

He also said his country has bought 12 high-powered locomotives from China and plans to import 18 more under an agreement signed in July. The two countries will cooperate on railway electrification, he added.

Myasnikovich arrived in Beijing on Sunday on a five-day trip and will also visit Heilongjiang province and Shenzhen in Guangdong province.

On Monday, Premier Li Keqiang and Myasnikovich agreed on a five-year roadmap for cooperation between the two countries.

Xi told Myasnikovich on Tuesday that he views his visit as "meaningful and fruitful". He also noted the Belarusian prime minister"s contribution to relations between the two countries.

Myasnikovich was awarded the Friendship Award, the top prize conferred by the Chinese government on foreigners, in 2011 for his contribution as chairman of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus from 2004-10.

Xi said Myasnikovich"s visit, which comes just six months after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko"s trip to China, "fully demonstrates the importance and high level of the China-Belarus relationship".

Xi and Lukashenko jointly formed a comprehensive strategic partnership in July.

Myasnikovich told China Daily bilateral cooperation has entered a new phase.

He cited the example of Belarus reaching initial agreement with Chinese automaker Geely to jointly produce light cars.

Chinese high-tech companies such as ZTE and Huawei have also expressed willingness to join the China-Belarus Industrial Park, he said. The park, near Minsk International Airport, will grant tax exemptions to enterprises for the first 10 years and 50 percent tax breaks for another 10 years.

"Belarus is willing to provide more privileges for Chinese enterprises coming to the industrial park," Myasnikovich said.


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