MINSK, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday spoke highly of the China-Belarus traditional friendship and urged the two countries to push forward their comprehensive strategic partnership.
He made the remarks in a signed article carried by Sovetskaya Belorussiya, the largest newspaper in Belarus, to which Xi is about to pay a state visit.
TRADITIONAL FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN CHINA AND BELARUS
Recalling his first visit to the Eastern European country five years ago, Xi noted that today Belarus enjoys a growing economy and a steady society under the leadership of President Alexander Lukashenko.
The Chinese president lauded the brotherly bond the two nations forged during the World Anti-Fascist War, stressing that China and Belarus fought side by side and made indelible contributions to the final victory.
While China's anti-Japanese war was the earliest and longest chapter in WWII history, Belarus fired the first shot in the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany, Xi noted.
He recalled that Chinese pilot Tang Duo joined the Soviet Air Force and fought valiantly in the battle liberating Minsk, and many Belarussian soldiers in the Soviet Red Army fought shoulder by shoulder with Chinese troops in Northeast China.
"Since the two countries established diplomatic ties 23 years ago, bilateral relations have grown rapidly. Now China and Belarus have already established a comprehensive strategic partnership, made a five-year plan for the development of bilateral relations, and set up a committee for intergovernmental cooperation," Xi said.
China, he added, has now become Belarus' largest trade partner in the Asia-Pacific region, with bilateral trade up 27.3 percent last year in defiance of a weak global economy.
The two countries have carried out dozens of major projects in telecommunications, transportation, energy and infrastructure, generating great economic and social benefits to both sides, Xi said.
Taking Geely as an example, he said the Chinese car maker has filled the Belarussian industrial sector's blank in automobile manufacturing by building an assembly plant in the Eastern European country.
He also noted that the China-Belarus industrial park project near Minsk, which will play an important role in the China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, has already made substantial progress.
With three Confucius Institutes having been established in Belarus so far and 200 Belarussian youngsters affected by the Chernobyl incident traveling to China for rehabilitation last year, people-to-people exchanges are also booming, Xi added.
FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF RELATIONS
The two countries are both standing at a crucial juncture, Xi said, pointing out that China is aspiring to realize its national rejuvenation and Belarus is trying to accelerate economic restructuring and industrial upgrading.
Looking into the future, the Chinese president made a four-point proposal to dovetail the two countries' strategic visions and build a community of common interests and destiny.
First, they should strengthen mutual political trust and support on issues that concern their core interests, Xi said, stressing that staunch support for each other on crucial affairs is a cornerstone of the China-Belarus comprehensive strategic partnership.
Second, the Chinese president suggested, the two countries should deepen practical cooperation and tighten the intertwinement of their interests.
China, he said, hopes that Belarus, which has a unique geographical advantage, will actively engage itself in the China-proposed Belt and Road initiatives.
Meanwhile, he added, Beijing will encourage more Chinese companies to invest in Belarus and will provide the Eastern European country with economic support within China's capacity.
Third, the two countries need to boost people-to-people exchanges and further cement their traditional friendship, the Chinese leader said, adding that China would like to build a Chinese culture center in Belarus and increase the input into the Confucius Institutes in the country.
Fourth, China and Belarus should work together with other countries to jointly defend the fruits of the World Anti-Fascist War, Xi proposed.
Noting that both countries are founding members of the United Nations, Xi added that the two countries should boost their cooperation and coordination within the frameworks of the global body and other international organizations and promote the building of a more equitable and reasonable world order.