The non-strategic partnership
Relations between China and Belarus have been developing intensively over the past decade. This process has been fuelled by Beijing’s growing global ambitions as well as Minsk’s efforts to modernise the Belarusian economy and to partially reduce its dependence on Moscow. Given China’s great economic potential and desire to develop cooperation, it became the main non-European partner for Minsk at the beginning of the 21st century. Beijing decided to use Minsk’s great openness to cooperation and turned Belarus into an important laboratory for the Belt and Road Initiative, which was presented as one of the greatest successes of Xi Jinping’s flagship project. However, the two sides had quite different expectations as to the principles of their cooperation. In turn, the extremely ambitious visions were not filled with real content. The development of relations with China has not led to a structural transformation of the Belarusian economy. Instead, its trade deficit and foreign debt have increased. As a result, along with the growing disappointment with cooperation with Minsk, the Chinese administration and experts are again showing increasing interest in Ukraine, which is considered a much more attractive economic partner.