The first stage: "search for common ground and establishing contacts" (1992-2006)1 is associated with the independence of the Republic of Belarus, which opened new opportunities for international cooperation, including among the expert and analytical community. During this period, Belarus solved an important strategic goal of enhancing ties with the People's Republic of China, which also paid the most serious attention to the development of relations with the Republic of Belarus. At the same time, the expert and analytical community of both countries made active attempts to study each other, get to know each other, share visits, and hold joint events.
The second stage: "institutionalization of bilateral expert-analytical cooperation" (2007-2012)1. While forming Belarus as a sovereign state, an impetus was given to the development of national think tanks. During that period, the first bilateral documents on cooperation were signed, strong partnerships were established between Belarusian think tanks and similar structures of the PRC.
The purpose of those agreements was to establish and develop regular contacts, as well as scientific cooperation in the framework of activities implemented by the parties. The documents prescribed such areas of work as visits of delegations, participation in joint scientific events (conferences, round tables), exchange of scientists and specialists, scientific literature, preparing joint publications.
The third stage "strategic interaction and expanding cooperation areas" (from 2013 till present)1. The establishment in July 2013 of comprehensive strategic partnership between Belarus and China contributed to the development of multifaceted humanitarian cooperation in all spheres and at different levels. It addressed "strengthening mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples and consolidating friendly relations between the two countries."2
The activation of Belarus-China contacts was promoted by adoption on August 31, 2015 of Directive of the President of the Republic of Belarus No. 5 on developing bilateral relations between the Republic of Belarus with the People's Republic of China. The bilateral expert-analytical interaction in that period reached a qualitatively new level and became one of the important components that allowed Belarus and China to establish the top level of relations in their history – a trust-based comprehensive strategic partnership and mutually beneficial cooperation. The Joint Declaration signed by the heads of state following the meeting on 29.09.2016 in Beijing provides for "continuous strengthening of the political basis of bilateral relations (paragraph 2) and expansion of cooperation in the field of public diplomacy (paragraph 14)"3.
The priority tasks of cooperation in the near future are defined by Directive No. 9 of December 3, 2021 on developing bilateral relations between the Republic of Belarus and the People's Republic of China".
Thus, over the past 30 years, the expert dimension of public diplomacy has actually become an integral element of the strategic partnership between Minsk and Beijing, a tool for strengthening strategic cooperation through the diverse interaction of think tanks of the two countries. Currently, the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research which will celebrate its third anniversary on February 12, 2022 plays an important role in strengthening cooperation between think tanks of Belarus and China.
1From the report at the 2nd International round table "Belarus-China relations: new challenges, new quality of interaction", organized on February 2, 2022 by the Department of Political Science of the Institute of Social and Humanitarian Education of BSEU.
2Joint Declaration of the Republic of Belarus and the People's Republic of China on the establishment of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (Art. 7).
3Joint Declaration of the Republic of Belarus and the People's Republic of China on establishing Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.