Belarus president and firm Russia ally Lukashenko to visit China

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s visit to Beijing comes as China’s relations with the US have plummeted.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and China's President Xi Jinping
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, and China's President Xi Jinping. Lukashenko is due to visit China on February 28, the Chinese foreign ministry said [File: Natalia Kolesnikova and Noel Celis/AFP]

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has praised China’s predominant role in world affairs saying that no one could contain its growth and no problem in the world can be resolved without Beijing’s input.

The authoritarian leader of Belarus – a staunch ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin – also accused the United States of staging a “show” in its recent shooting down of a Chinese balloon that Washington said was gathering intelligence and which Beijing said was monitoring weather.

“Today, no one can contain China or stop its development,” Lukashenko told China’s state news agency Xinhua before his planned arrival in Beijing on Tuesday.

“Today, not a single issue in the world can be resolved without China,” he told Xinhua.

Lukashenko’s three-day state visit comes as Beijing’s relations with the US have plummeted and geopolitical tensions rise over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

China’s intentions regarding the war in Ukraine have also come under scrutiny as US officials have alleged that China is weighing up the provision of military assistance to Moscow, something that Washington has said will bring serious consequences.

China called the US allegations a smear campaign, and that Beijing was committed to promoting peace talks between Kyiv and the Kremlin.

“The US has no right to point fingers at China-Russia relations. We will by no means accept the US pressure and coercion,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Monday at a daily briefing.

Lukashenko is one of the staunchest allies of Putin and has allowed Belarusian territory to be used as a staging ground for the initial invasion of Ukraine last year and subsequent attacks.

Beijing claims a neutral stance in the year-old war, but it has also said it has a “no-limits friendship” with Russia and has refused to criticise Ukraine’s invasion.

China’s state-run Global Times newspaper said on Tuesday that Belarus was an “iron brother” of China and that some Western media were viewing Lukashenko’s visit “through a biased lens”.

Biased reporting had led to the false descriptions of Belarus as a “little ally” of Russia and suggested that China’s “expanding influence” should be a cause for concern, the Global Times said in an editorial.

“This view shows disrespect for Belarus. It is not only highly narrow-minded, but also reflects some Western political elites’ insincerity and hypocrisy towards peace,” the editorial said.

China’s relations with partner countries – such as Belarus – would remain steadfast and based on “common interests”, it added.

“We will never bypass a country just because the US or others do not like it. This is the right approach that truly conforms to the trend of globalization and the spirit of diversity,” the Global Times said.

Beijing has accused the US and NATO of provoking the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and has condemned sanctions levelled against Russia and entities seen as aiding its military effort.

China also has long ties with Lukashenko, Belarus’s only president since the position was created in 1994. Lukashenko crushed protests in 2020 over his disputed re-election in a vote that the opposition and Western countries regard as fraudulent.

Despite Lukashenko’s brutal suppression of dissent, opposition activities continue. On Sunday, anti-government forces were reported to have attacked a military airbase that hosts Russian warplanes outside the Belarusian capital, Minsk, according to activists. The opposition organisation BYPOL, in an online messaging channel run by Belarusian activists, said an A-50 early warning and control aircraft was seriously damaged in the attack at the Machulishchy base.

The activists provided no evidence to support the claims, which could not be independently verified.

Belarusian and Russian officials made no comment, but Lukashenko urged top military and security officials on Monday to tighten discipline.

Source: Al Jazeera, The Associated Press