Minsk set to strengthen military cooperation with China


Belarus is developing military cooperation with China due to rational considerations. Moscow is unwilling and in some ways is unable to meet all Belarus’ needs in the arms. The expansion of cooperation between the military-industrial complex of Belarus and China is only natural, and Belarus is likely to increase domestic military production, thanks to Chinese assistance.

During Lukashenka’s visit to China, the two states signed a number of agreements on bilateral cooperation. For instance, Belarus’ State Committee for Military Production signed an agreement (the roadmap) with the Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) on bilateral cooperation. CASC is the largest manufacturer of communications satellites, heavy multiple rocket launchers, air defence systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and precision-guided munitions. The last four items are among the priorities for the Belarusian defence industry.

That said, Belarus already has significant results from cooperating with China in the defence industry field. With the CASC assistance, Belarus launched Belintersat-1, a communications satellite, which laid the grounds for the national military digital communications system. In addition, there is a Chinese «trace» in the MLRS Polonaise. Yet current cooperation with Russia in the security field is much more elaborate than that with China, but the dynamics of Sino-Belarusian cooperation may soon change this state of affairs.

While Belarus needs to upgrade and update her weapons, she is extremely short of funds. Russia is reluctant to transfer technology, and Russian-produced weapons are becoming more expensive. In addition, Russia does not manufacture some types of equipment (for example, single-engine fighter aircrafts). Moscow is prone to self-isolation and seeks to ensure import substitution, including Belarusian defence products. Meanwhile, China is interested in expanding its presence on the arms market; it is ready to transfer technology and offers attractive financial terms. The quality of Chinese products is improving.

Belarus is likely to expand military cooperation with China and to increase domestic military production with Chinese assistance, in particular, regarding wheeled armoured vehicles, medium-range air defence systems, precision-guided munitions of various purpose, and heavy UAV. That said, Russia will remain an important ally / partner for Belarus on regional security issues and the main source of financial support in the near future. The situation is not unique: Pakistan, which cooperates with the United States in the securing field and receives financial assistance from them, relies on the technological assistance from China in the defence industry.

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