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Towards the 30th Anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the Republic of Belarus and the People's Republic of China

The anniversary date in the history of the development of Belarus-China relations is of particular importance for the Republic of Belarus this year. It is very symbolic that the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the Republic of Belarus and the People's Republic of China celebrated on January 20, actually opens the Year of Historical Memory. [1]

By historical standards, thirty years is a short period. It should be noted that there has been no conflicts and contradictions over the entire time of interaction between the two countries. On the contrary, Belarus and China have managed to build a comprehensive strategic and effective partnership, which, thanks to the efforts of the peoples of the two countries, has been exemplary and may be an example for other states. Chinese President Xi Jinping figuratively and clearly characterized the friendship between the two peoples with a Chinese expression: "True friends remain friends forever, their bonds of friendship are stronger than any, even the most durable, metal." [2]

The Year of Historical Memory announced in Belarus is a very good reason to once again look at events that have become bright pages in consolidating friendship between the Belarusian and Chinese peoples.

Studies of modern Belarusian and Russian scientists show that the anniversary date is only related to the newest period of cooperation between the two countries. In turn, the history of Belarusian-Chinese relations has its roots in the most distant times.

It is believed that O.M. Kovalevsky (1800-1878), a native of Grodno region, was the first orientalist of Belarusian origin to visit China. In 1830-1831, he was in the Chinese capital as a clerical official as part of another group of Orthodox missionaries sent to the Beijing spiritual mission. The main scientific result of his trip was the first work in Europe, "Buddhist Cosmology" (1837), dedicated to the in-depth analysis of the ideological basis of Buddhism.

Activities of Iosif Goshkevich (1814-1875), another famous native of Belarus, a gifted linguist, are also connected with the Russian spiritual mission in Beijing. He worked in China for almost ten years (1840-1849) and left a noticeable mark in domestic and world science and in the history of diplomacy of the Russian state in the East. The written monuments collected by him relate to geography, ethnography, history and languages not only of China, but also of other East Asian countries. According to scientists, the works of Iosif Goshkevich should be the subject of research for all students of Chinese history. Copies of archival materials about service of I. Goshkevich at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Empire submitted in 2001 by the Russian side, are kept nowadays in the archives of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.

In the future, almost in every historical period, immigrants from Belarus left their noticeable mark in strengthening the ties with China. Belarus has a special respect for the memory of the participants of the tragic events in the world history - the fight against fascism and militarism. Belarusian pilots as part of a group of Soviet volunteers added a bright page in the chronicals of the war of Chinese people's resistance against Japanese invaders. Not all the heroes returned home, more than 200 Soviet pilots gave their lives for the freedom of the Chinese people and the liberation of humanity from militarism.

A striking example of the sincere friendship of the Belarusian and Chinese peoples is mutual assistance in the struggle for liberation during the occupation of Belarus by Nazi Germany (1941-1945) and the occupation by militaristic Japan of a significant part of China, where about 70% of the total population of the country lived (1937-1945). Valuable exhibits of the Belarusian State Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War keep the memory of this.

The symbol of the participation of representatives of the Chinese people in liberation of Belarus is rightfully the outstanding life story of a Chinese girl Zhu Min (1926-2009), the daughter of Marshal Zhu De, a famous Chinese military, statesman and politician. The hard times of the war caught her at the age of 15, when in June 1941, together with other pupils of the Ivanovo international orphanage she stayed in a pioneer camp in the Dyatlovo district of the Grodno region. For her merits in the joint fight against fascism, in 2007 Professor Zhu Min was awarded the state reward – the medal "60 years of liberation of the Republic of Belarus from the Nazi invaders".

In recent years, China has shown an increased interest in the history of Belarus. This was greatly facilitated by the issue in 2016 of the book "Belarus: pages of history"[3] in Chinese, a joint work of the Chinese experts in Belarusian studies Zhao Huirong, head of the sector for Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian Studies of the Institute of Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), and Wang Xianju, Senior Researcher at the Research Center for Development of the State Council of China. The publication provided a wide range of Chinese readers with a comprehensive information about the history of Belarus from ancient times to the present day. This is the first project of the kind in the history of bilateral relations and the first publication in China on the history of other post-Soviet countries. According to the estimates of the CASS management, the implementation of such joint project is the evidence of a high level of bilateral relations that have a comprehensive strategic nature. The book will grant the Chinese people in-depth insights in the history of Belarus, and will also contribute to strengthening mutual trust between the peoples of the two countries.

К 30-летию установления дипломатических отношений между Республикой Беларусь и Китайской Народной Республикой
Photo from the author's personal archive

Belarusians and Chinese with great care and respect remember the heroic past of their peoples, advocate for the defense of historical truth and against distorting historical realities. This will allow us to form together an objective attitude of society to the rich historical past.



[1]Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko No. 1 of January 1, 2022

[2]Chinese President Xi Jinping:Let the friendly cooperation between China and Belarus be like a resounding and lively song..

[3]Belarus: Pages of History/National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Inst. of History; Ed. by А. Kovalenya [et al]. — Minsk: Belarusian Science, 2011. – 408 p., illustrated.