Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 17, 2017. (Xinhua/Ding Lin)
KIEV, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- The year 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Ukraine, and has seen the partnership between the two countries gain new vigor.
China and Ukraine have strengthened political dialogue, boosted trade, deepened cultural cooperation, and launched joint projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.
IN-DEPTH POLITICAL DIALOGUE
China-Ukraine ties were given a breath of fresh air in mid-January, when Chinese President Xi Jinping met his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko.
Local analysts held the view that the talks between the two leaders, which took place ahead of the opening session of the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, have set a positive tone for the future partnership between the two countries.
"Over the past several years, after the shift of power in Ukraine, many experts have repeatedly stated that it is very important for the (sake of) Sino-Ukrainian relations to revive the political dialogue at the highest level. That's why this meeting is vitally important in terms of political decisions," said Viktor Kiktenko, head of the Ukrainian Association of Sinologists.
The meeting was followed by several ministerial visits as well as the establishment of cooperation between the youth organizations of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Ukraine's ruling party Petro Poroshenko Bloc (PPB) "Solidarity."
The political dialogue culminated in the third session of the China-Ukraine Intergovernmental Commission on bilateral cooperation in December in Kiev, where the two sides signed an action plan on jointly developing the Belt and Road Initiative.
The commission was co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai, whose visit to Kiev was seen by Ukrainian experts as evidence that the political trust between China and Ukraine has risen.
"This visit is the result of years of negotiations on coordinating positions between our countries. I believe that this is a great success," said Iryna Nikorak, a secretary of Ukraine's parliamentary group on China-Ukraine relations.
FRUITFUL TRADE RELATIONS
Despite the global economic uncertainties, China and Ukraine have managed to expand their trade in 2017 due to the complementary nature of their markets.
According to Ukraine's statistics, the trade volume of the two countries has accumulated to 7.03 billion U.S. dollars this year till November, exceeding the amount of the entire year 2016 by 8 percent.
As a result, China has become Ukraine's third-largest trading partner after the European Union and Russia.
This year, Ukrainian exporters delivered more than 220 new products to the Chinese market, with agricultural goods leading the list.
Ukrainian meat, dairy products, vegetable oil and juices found consumers in China, which in turn contributed to Ukraine's economic prosperity and supported China's rising demand for healthy food.
In Ukraine, Chinese goods continued to enjoy immense popularity, with electronics and household appliances topping sales due to their high quality and reasonable prices.
During the 11-month period, China's export volume to Ukraine has increased to 5.05 billion dollars, accounting for about 11 percent of Ukraine's total imports.
It may be too early to make predictions, but experts hope that trade between the countries will further increase next year.
"Taking into account the potential of our cooperation, we believe that we can significantly increase bilateral trade. We hope that next year, we will launch sectoral dialogues in the priority areas and they would bring practical results," said Natalia Mykolska, deputy minister of economic development and trade of Ukraine.
JOINT INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS
Without doubt, the outgoing year became a golden time for China-Ukraine infrastructure cooperation, with the two sides launching a slew of joint projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.
For the first time in several years, Chinese companies were selected as contractors to implement projects to upgrade Ukraine's infrastructure.
The China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) has already started dredging works in Ukraine's southern Black Sea port of Yuzhny, aimed at expanding maritime productivity while boosting Ukraine's grain exports by 15 percent.
Also this year, the private Xinjiang Communications Construction Group Co., Ltd. and the state-owned Chinese power and infrastructure company of Sinohydro won tenders to modernize three key highways in western, northern and central Ukraine.
Furthermore, a consortium of two Chinese companies -- the China Pacific Construction Group and China Railway International Group -- signed a cooperation agreement with the government of Kiev on building the fourth metro line in the Ukrainian capital last month.
This year, Kiev authorities have initiated negotiations with Chinese partners over the construction of a ring-road around Kiev, a traffic intersection in the city center, and a 37-km-long road connecting the capital with its suburb of Brovary.
It is now safe to say that four years after its proposal by Chinese President Xi, the Belt and Road Initiative has today gained momentum in Ukraine with the help of Chinese businesses.
"We are the supporters of this initiative, which involves different countries of the world. Modernization of the infrastructure will strengthen Ukraine's position as a key country at the New Silk Road," said Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.
BROAD CULTURAL COOPERATION
The year 2017 has also been important for the development of cultural cooperation between China and Ukraine.
For the first time ever, the Sino-Ukrainian Cultural Exchange Week was held in Kiev in April, bringing together hundreds of participants from the two countries.
The event, which saw an unprecedented scale of cultural exchanges ranging from music and dance performances to workshops on traditional medicine, was another milestone in boosting understanding between the peoples.
It became a launching point for several joint exhibitions by Chinese and Ukrainian artists, concerts and people-to-people exchanges, which have proven that people from the two countries share many common values despite being geographically distant.
"There has been a significant intensification of Ukrainian-Chinese cultural ties. The progress is visible in joint cultural projects," said Eugene Nishchuk, Ukraine's culture minister.
A stellar example of the budding friendship between the two nations was the installment of a sculpture in central Kiev depicting the legendary Chinese Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu and the Ukrainian iconic poet Taras Shevchenko.
The sculpture, created by Wu Weishan, director of the National Art Museum of China, became the first monument dedicated to the Ukrainian poet made by a Chinese artist and the first to a Chinese poet installed in Ukraine.
The positive trend in cultural relations is expected to expand further because this year, China and Ukraine signed deals on joint movie production, creative industry cooperation, translation of books into each others' languages and holding joint festivals.
The prospects for bilateral ties in the long run look particularly rosy in light of the fact that the year 2019 has been declared as the "Year of China" in Ukraine.