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Ukraine looking to boost ties with China

By Ren Qi (chinadaily.com.cn)

Updated: 2015-03-09 15:54:44


Ukraine looking to boost ties with China

Mr. Oleg Dyomin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the People's Republic of China

1. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang released Annual Government Report on March 5. What's your take on the report? Are there any points that impressed you?

Ambassador : I had the honour to attend personally the opening ceremony of this year's NPC annual session and its first plenary meeting. The report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang on the government activities in 2014 and outlines of key directions for the current year, I must admit, was tangible, concrete and optimistic as expected.

The final year of the 12th Five-year plan was mentioned, whose idea and tasks were to ensure China's deep structural reforms, especially in economic development. Premier clearly described contemporary conditions of China's development and outlined external and internal challenges that require prioritised attention while moving in line with "low tendencies" and not decelerating reforms of political, economic and social life. It seemed that in Premier's report special emphasis was made on need to identify new growing points of Chinese economy, while maintaining a steady balance between reforms, development and stability.

For strategic partner and traditional friend of China like Ukraine is, there is an important element in the report, namely evidence of reliability, reticence, stability and friendly orientation of Chinese foreign economic policy, which is open for innovative, original and courageous approaches, aiming at sustainable and long-term common development. In Ukraine at all levels from official to expert we fully support innovative foreign economic initiatives of Chinese Government, particularly the idea of the Silk Road Economic Belt. China set ambitious but very realistic goals. I sincerely hope Ukraine actively and widely participate in its implementation.

I am absolutely confident that Chinese people led by the government will ensure efficient implementation of most urgent and long-term strategic plans and objectives set for the country.

2. What do you think about China's development in the past year?

Ambassador: It is difficult to overestimate rapid qualitative and quantitative changes that occur in China all the time, right before our eyes. During a year when the PRC celebrated its 65th anniversary, the country confidently narrowed the already not-so-obvious gap between itself and the first world economy – US. Real breakthrough in various fields was achieved; notable results were reached in building-up the civil society based on the principles of rule of law and everyone's equality before the law.

In this context, it is impossible to ignore a significant intensification of systematic fighting corruption in China. Expulsions from the party, investigations, dismissals of government officials, party bureaucrats, even the NPC deputies and the most senior officials – all of that is, in my view, a raw fight against this evil social phenomenon. Moreover, I am pleased that such "sanitation activities" have got much in common with our Revolution of Dignity, which has primarily arisen as the resistance against the corrupt government. Unlike Chinese Government, our previous authorities were not ready for self-cleaning, implementing reforms and taking any anticorruption measures.

Certainly, in many industries, scientific researches, education, medicine and other spheres China also became world leader by the number of patented inventions. For example, in December 2014 China launched the 200th space vehicle. The Chinese satellite navigation system "Beidou" is being successfully deployed over the Earth. Incidentally, we are proud there is a serious contribution made by Ukrainian experts, who have been cooperating for years closely with Chinese partners on space programs.

Of course, one of the main challenges facing China within last years was a slowdown of economic growth. Despite changing international situation and urgent tasks of internal development, the Government managed to improve state's economic structure, ensuring the growth of industrial and agricultural production and upgrading citizens' life. All these changes clearly demonstrate the successful implementation of a new model of economic development and reforms.

It is worth mentioning, that China played a prominent role in developing inter-regional economic relations, including establishment of free trade zones, new banks and funds which are to invest into projects within regional structures. I believe it to be important for China to continue the state policy facilitating easy access to foreign markets for Chinese investments, technologies and products not solely for the ones of leading economies, but also of the developing countries.

We also have to mention the initiative of China's leadership on reviving the "Silk Road" - both on-land and sea paths. It is worth mentioning that Ukraine, which remains a kind of geopolitical and economic "corridor" between East and West, provided having powerful production and industrial capacities, scientific and technological potential, was the first country expressed publicly the support of the governmental initiative regarding the creation of the Economic Belt of the Silk Road. And we are prepared to take active measures to participate in this large-scale project.

With great interest and enthusiasm we observe worldwide spread of Chinese culture. This "soft power" has a vocation not only to promote peaceful settlement of numerous international conflicts, but also to prevent them simply by providing communication, knowledge of each other and thus improvement of mutual understanding, respect and trust. One of such efficient "tools" is a global network of Confucius Institutes, of which 10th anniversary we celebrated in 2014. Today this network consists of nearly 500 institutions in 126 countries, including five in Ukraine.

On the whole, to my mind, China can be proud of its achievements, but you should not dwell on it. A doorway for progress and improvements is widely open!

3. How do you view cooperation between China and Ukraine in the next year?

Ambassador:It's hard to determine what is the most important for further cooperation between our countries. It includes political contacts at all levels ensuring our path forward, as well as a whole variety of inter-sector cooperation that requires active development and innovative approaches. Economics, finance, science, education, space exploration, medicine, culture, tourism – this is far not a complete list of our bilateral cooperation.

For example, this year we expect the 4th five-year program on cooperation in the field of space to be approved. In education field, students exchange programs will be expanded. We plan to open Center of traditional Chinese medicine in Kiev and to use appropriate TCM methods in healthcare. We are preparing to hold reciprocal Days of Culture of Ukraine and China expecting to revive exchanges of creative art performances. We will widely present Ukraine to Chinese tourists taking into account already established and agreed mode of groups travel which should present Ukraine as very attractive travel destination for Chinese citizens. A direct flight by "Ukraine International Airlines" between our two countries to be launched at the end of April will facilitate mutual tourist exchanges.

However, I have to emphasize that the strategic nature of the partnership between Ukraine and China has economy as its primary basis. Thus, a level of bilateral cooperation will be enhanced by improvements of China economic policy (implementing "new wave" of reforms, ensuring development under the "low trends", increasing the capitals export volumes etc.) and certainly by reforms and modernization of the Ukrainian economy.

Ukraine and China are planning to launch new or continue implementation of the existing multibillion projects in such areas as energy, agriculture, infrastructure, transportation, and telecommunications. I want to emphasize that free unused potential permits us to expect optimistically some serious intensification of cooperation in all possible spheres. Primarily it refers to joint projects in the fields of aerospace, high-technology, telecommunications, infrastructure construction, which are potentially of high demand. I am confident that this collaboration will be accelerated on structural level with the next meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Cooperation and its seven specialized sub-commissions.

Undoubtedly, in the trade and economic sphere now it is the time to move forward from crediting practices to the increase in investment component, since current volumes of mutual direct investments satisfy neither our state leaders, nor business elites.

An increase of bilateral trade turnover is an important direction for cooperation between Ukraine and China. Unfortunately, during the last year we lost 35 percent of bilateral trade volume and 24 percent are due to Chinese exports to Ukraine. This year we will apply all possible efforts to restore and further increase our trade turnover. All existing mechanisms will be employed for this purpose. These measures include currency swap instruments which appeared to have an active phase of cooperation in the beginning of the year.

Another point I have to stress upon is the necessity to look at the prospects of joint participation in the events dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the World War II, when Ukrainian and Chinese soldiers were fighting together against German fascism and Japanese militarism. Many of our compatriots spared their lives liberating China from invaders and our nations both remember it.

We will also continue active cooperation within international organizations, primarily within the UN Security Council. Ukraine expects to become its non-permanent member for the years 2016-2017, provided friendly support by China.

I believe this year Ukraine and China as reliable and predictable strategic partners will make outstanding progress in all fields of cooperation.