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Zhang Xiyun: There are no political obstacles for cooperation between Ukraine and China

21.01.2011 | Interview by: Vadym Denysenko

PH: i. Chernysh

Over the past year, Ukraine and China have made several important steps towards each other. In an exclusive interview, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the People´s Republic of China to Ukraine Zhang Xiyun talks about how relations between our countries are developing and the prospects of mutual economic and cultural relations

KW: Mr Ambassador, in your opinion, what are the export priorities of China in trade relations with Ukraine in the short run?

Z.X.: We currently have statistics on the total volume of foreign trade in 2010 it is around three trillion dollars. For the moment, I do not have exact customs statistics, but according to preliminary assessments Ukraine and China exchanged goods last year in the amount of US $7.5 billion, which as you can see is a rather miserly share of the total volume. Last September, our heads of state agreed that in 2012 we will bring this indicator up to the US $10 bn benchmark. This is a rather ambitious plan, but we will achieve it. More importantly, the presidents agreed to increase not only the quantity, but also the quality of economic cooperation.

KW: The Chinese corporation Hongxing is developing the Velykotokmakske deposit of manganese ore. Could you tell us more about this project?

Z.X.: Id like to start from afar. After the September visit of the president of Ukraine to China, we saw an inflow of Chinese business people onto the Ukrainian market. Based on the results of the visit, bilateral documents on three projects were signed: the Boryspil-Kyiv high-speed electric train, a gas and steam power station in Crimea and modernization of the coal industry. Aside from these projects, Chinese and Ukrainian businessmen are starting to work on so to speak popular projects and I would believe the Hongxing project is one of them. The project is off to a good start and is not from scratch: the corporation has always supported good partnership relations with Ukrainian businessmen in the sphere of manganese supplies to Ukraine. The owner of Hongxing is a major Chinese businessman who saw that Ukraine has abundant reserves of manganese ore. It is economically beneficial for him to produce and process ore here in Ukraine. He will build a plant in Ukraine and sell his products. He is supported both by the national government and oblast authorities.

KW: China has purchased several aircraft carriers from Ukraine, including the Varyag. Is China interested in Ukraines experience in building ships of this type, particularly since last year the Chinese mass media reported about the possible choice of Ukrainian-made gas-turbine units of for equipping Chinese aircraft carriers?

Z.X.: Ukraine and China are two friendly countries and there are no political obstacles for cooperation between them. Our countries are approximately on the same stage of social and economic development. Finally, we largely complement each other in terms of economics: Ukraine has powerful economic, agricultural, R&D potential, while China has huge production capacities. I may point out the solid cooperation in the military and technical spheres, which has been ongoing for twenty years now and we have achieved a measure of success on a mutually beneficial basis. I would like this mutually beneficial cooperation to continue.

KW: Will China support Ukraines application for participation of Ukraine in the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member?

Z.X.: There were agreements made at the presidential level that China and Ukraine would interact in the sphere of international affairs. We will be delighted if Ukraine has a desire to enhance its presence on the international arena. We understand Ukraines strive to be a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and have a positive attitude on this note. I would like to see more interaction with other members of the regional group.

KW: How do you assess the possibilities and prospects of the acquisition or lease of agricultural land in Ukraine, taking into account that China is one of the worlds largest importers of foodstuffs?

Z.X.: Cooperation in the area of agriculture is one of the potential spheres of our interstate relations. So far, the work is on the first stage of mutual recognition.

KW: So the issue of acquisition or lease of land is not under consideration for the time being?

Z.X.: There are many ideas but no real work for the moment. There is no need to rush into things: there will still be plenty of work based on mutual benefits. For now, there are joint scientific developments, exchange of information on the protection of plant life, environmental issues and selection.

KW: What does the agreement on partnership between the Communist Party of China and the Party of Regions mean? With what other parties does the CPC have similar agreements?

Z.X.: The Communist Party of China and the Party of Regions play an important role in the political, economic and social lives of both countries. There is a need to at least exchange information about socio-economic development in the two countries. The processes in China and in Ukraine, I believe, are interesting for both the CPC and for the PoR. The signed document indicates normal inter-party relations implying regular exchange of visits at the level of the heads of these political parties, exchange of information, mutual trips of representatives, think tanks of both parties and, if necessary, mutual training of young specialists.

KW: So, first and foremost, it is exchange of information?

Z.X.: Generally speaking, that is correct.

KW: Are there plans for signing an agreement on Ukrainians studying in Chinese schools and are there any programs in this sphere?

Z.X.: We are fruitfully cooperating in the sphere of education. In June 2002, an agreement on cooperation between Chinese and Ukrainian ministries of education was signed. It stipulates an exchange program between students, BA graduates and a certain amount of mutual quotas at the government level.

KW: Can you provide some concrete figures?

Z.X.: 25 students go through studies in Ukraine and China every year on government stipends. 8,500 Chinese students are studying in Ukrainian non-government institutions and 1,500 Ukrainian students study in our schools. During the Ukrainian presidents visit to China he voiced a mutual desire that the number of enrolled students be increased so that they can more closely get to know one another. I highly value our cooperation.

It is worth noting that our countries mutually acknowledge diplomas and school attestations. In short, a Chinese citizen who earned a diploma from a Ukrainian college or university can continue education in a Chinese institution on the basis of having earned a part of their education in Ukraine or find a job in China on the grounds of a Ukrainian diploma.

Conversely, young Ukrainian students that completed their education in a Chinese learning institution acknowledge young specialists in Ukraine. Finally, if a student graduated from university in one of these two countries or received a doctors degree, this is recognized in the partnering country.

KW: There is only one school in which students learn the Chinese language in Kyiv and only a few such schools in the country. Does China plan to cooperate with middle schools in order to increase the number of classes in which students can learn Chinese?

Z.X.: As a Chinese citizen I hope this will happen. I have a personal plan of expanding the work of the Confucius Institute (so far three departments are operating) so that Ukrainians interested in learning the Chinese language, literature and culture will be able to learn these subjects within the framework of this institution.

KW: Ukraine and China are similar in the sense that with growing import of energy sources their economies are as earlier characterized by a low level of energy efficiency. Would it make sense to unite efforts in resolving this problem or should each country rely on its own capacities?

Z.X.: I dont quite agree with the assertion that Chinese technologies are energy-ineffective. If you are talking about the China of the past, then perhaps you are right. But over the past several years the government, industry and business in China have done a lot to reduce waste and lower energy consumption. China gave a sincere promise to the global community that within a specified period of time we will reduce exhausts by 40-45%. A huge amount of work must be done in order to fulfill this promise by the year 2020. I must note that there are people that accuse China of excessive amounts of emissions, but a scientific approach must be taken here. First of all, China has a population of 1.3 billion. If to look at the per capita waste indicators, in this category China is 75% cleaner than the U.S. and 50% cleaner than European countries. These are wastes are necessary for the normal life of our citizens, while the emissions in the U.S. and Europe I would call luxury waste as their volumes exceed the level required for normal life. Nevertheless, we are placing every effort to reduce the amount of emissions. Its a small world, so maintaining a clean living environment is the task of every country and every human being.

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