China, Ukraine Forge New Partnership

KIEV, Ukraine -- KIEV, Ukraine - President Hu Jintao and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed a declaration establishing a strategic partnership and set out its main principles.

President Hu Jintao (L) is welcomed by his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev on Monday during a three-day visit to Ukraine. Hu is the first Chinese head of state to visit Ukraine in the past decade.

The two countries also signed deals worth $3.5 billion, including a deal for China to extend a $1-billion loan to Ukraine to build a rail link between the capital, Kiev, and the country's main airport at Boryspil, about 30 km from the capital, AFP reported.

The deals cover industry, energy, infrastructure and agriculture, and China also announced an extension of unconditional aid to Ukraine, though precise details were not released.

Both leaders praised the strategic partnership, which, Hu said, "defines a new orientation in bilateral relations". Yanukovych called it "an historic breakthrough".

China regards Ukraine as a vital partner in cooperation in the Eurasia region, Hu said.

The establishment of the strategic partnership is a "major decision" jointly made by both countries in accordance with the changing global situation, Hu said.

Yanukovych said that China remains a key partner of Ukraine in the Asia-Pacific region.

He called for increasing Ukrainian exports of grain and food products to China and voiced hope for closer cooperation in aircraft manufacturing.

The Ukraine leader also expressed his confidence that relations between his country and China will be a foundation for constructive dialogue and negotiations.

The declaration stipulates that the areas of priority for cooperation will be trade, investment, technology, aviation, agriculture and infrastructure.

It highlights, in particular, infrastructure cooperation in Kiev.

Zhao Mingwen, director of the Center for Periphery Security Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said the future for cooperation is promising as Ukraine is a leader in technology.

Of the former Soviet Union nations, Ukraine is second only to Russia in high-tech expertise.

Both countries will expand military cooperation and Ukraine needs to develop its infrastructure and China has the capital and human resources as well as technology, Zhao said.

According to Zhao, China-Ukraine ties experienced a period of coolness during Yushchenko's five-year presidency, which ended in 2010. Yushchenko looked to integration with the West and took little note of relations with Asia, he said.

China did not want to become a partner in cooperation with Ukraine during this period, when Russian-Ukrainian ties were strained, Zhao said.

Russian-Ukrainian relations have improved since the election of Yanukovych in early 2010, Zhao said.

According to Feng Yujun, head of Russian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, China has become an important trading partner for Ukraine as both countries have deepened cooperation in science and technology.

"Cooperation in military technology has also been mutually beneficial," Feng said.

Statistics show that bilateral trade in 2010 reached $7.73 billion, a year-on-year increase of 33.8 percent. The two presidents have set a target of $10 billion for 2012.

The documents signed during Hu's visit will "push the Sino-Ukraine relationship onto the fast track", Feng said.

Hu's visit to Ukraine was the last leg of a European tour in which the Chinese leader also visited Kazakhstan and Russia.

Source: China Daily

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