Minsk is counting on actions by China which can be presented as a guarantee against external pressure. However, even in more favourable times, Beijing avoided such far-reaching commitments.
Lukashenka paid a state visit to Beijing and announced the following results. The Belarusian side is trying to present its results as:
- A confirmation that the West’s policy of isolating the Belarusian regime is ineffective.
- An evidence that Minsk and Beijing are aligned regarding the settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
- A confirmation of China supporting Lukashenka’s domestic and foreign policy.
- Grounds for economic optimism despite the gradual deterioration of the Russian economy.
Obviously, Minsk desires tangible evidence of Chinese support, such as extended lines of credit, landmark investment projects, and intensification of military and technical cooperation. However, judging by publicly available information, Beijing is not prepared to furnish Minsk with undertakings of a political or military-political nature, limiting itself to agreeing with alignment on international political matters and credit support on a repayment basis.
Minsk emphasises that the basis of Belarusian-Chinese relations is the personal relationship between Lukashenka and Xi Jinping; however, this is insufficient to develop or maintain ties in the security field. Joint training exercises between Chinese and Belarusian enforcement authorities have stalled for some time. Lukashenka’s suggestion that Chinese military-industrial companies open production facilities in Belarus has come to nothing. Beijing also seems less enthusiastic about pursuing agreements already in place regarding assisting Belarus with missile technology.
China avoided making long-term security commitments to Belarus even before the regional crisis. Some cooperation can be expected where interests coincide, such as in the situation of the Russian-Ukrainian war; however, in practical terms, Beijing’s relationship with Minsk will take account of the reaction of the United States and the EU and will continue to follow Chinese national interests prudently and rationally.