Ukraine ties rejuvenated by 'epochal' state visit

08:07, September 03, 2010      

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Beijing and Kiev signed 13 agreements on Thursday, the first day of the Ukrainian president's state visit to China, in what analysts are predicting could be the beginning of a new "Silk Road".

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spent the opening day of his four-day state visit meeting with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao. Both leaders agreed to lift their ties in a comprehensive way.

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich (L) and China's President Hu Jintao shake hands in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing September 2, 2010.(Photo/Xinhua)

The agreements marked a new beginning in the relationship between the two countries, which had come to a standstill under Ukraine's previous president Viktor Yushchenko.

Apart from boosting their political relationship, the two sides also signed 12 agreements on technology, infrastructure and credit cooperation, including programs of cooperation in exploring and using space for peaceful purposes in 2011-2015.

An agreement was also signed securing China's credit support to a 30-km railway project and construction of auxiliary facilities for an airport in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, which will take three years before completion. The railway project, contracted to a Chinese firm, will cost $950 million and construction will begin next year.

The two countries also agreed to push forward trade deals to approximately $10 billion in 2012, about five times that of 2009.

China has always attached importance to ties with the East European country, which bridges Asia and Europe.

Strategically located it has strong cultural and political links with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as well as trade links with the European Union (EU).

Good relations with China were established under a former president, Leonid Kuchma. However, during the reign of the "Orange team", led by Yushchenko, Sino-Ukrainian relations deteriorated.

In April, Yanukovych, who became Ukraine president in February, and Hu met in Washington and agreed to the Ukrainian president's visit to China.

The visit, which local papers are describing as "epochal", "historical", or, "extraordinary", has been viewed by analysts from both countries as a strategic move both politically and economically for the two nations to secure their ties in a changing regional landscape.

"Ukraine is the second largest country of the CIS. Geographically, it serves as China's gateway to Europe. Therefore the strategic location of Ukraine is significant," said Wang Lijiu, researcher of the institute of Russia studies under the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

Meanwhile, as China and Ukraine are both non-aligned countries, their cooperation will add a new momentum to the balance of world power, said Zhu Honggen, a researcher at the institute of Russia, Eastern European and Central Asian studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Experts also said the two economies were highly complementary and both had huge market potential.

"Ukraine has gained an edge on heavy industry, notably in areas such as aviation and machinery. The past years have witnessed China and Ukraine's collaboration on agriculture, technology and shipbuilding," said Wang.

China's investment will help ease the financial deficit that faces Ukraine, and infrastructure projects from China are welcome, said Zhu.

It has been reported that Ukraine has set up an expert team specifically to learn from China's economic reforms.

Ukrainian parliament deputy, adviser to the president and chairman of the Ukraine-China Business Council, Valery Konovalyuk told Xinhua News Agency Ukraine was offering a vision of a new "Silk Road" which would connect European and Asian trade.

"We are talking about building in Boryspol (near Kiev), one of the world's largest logistics centers, allowing a reduction in delivery times of goods from one end of Eurasia to another from the current 45 days to 12-14," he said.

Konovalyuk also said China was not only one of the world's largest economies, but also a "fairly significant political influence not only in the region but also on a global scale. China's support for a number of initiatives of Ukraine may mean our state will gradually increase its authority and presence in international politics."

Vice-Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament) Committee on Foreign Affairs Leonid Kozhara told Xinhua that "we are all aware of the enormous political and economic potential of China."

Source: China Daily


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