Interview of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the Chinese news agency Xinhua.
- Mr. President, after taking office, you pay special attention to the development of friendly cooperation between China and Ukraine. How do you assess the current state of bilateral relations?
- Ukraine's relations with China are a long history of political and cultural dialogue, mutually beneficial economic cooperation, respect for the choice of each other's development path. Our countries have all the necessary prerequisites for building friendly, mutually beneficial relations and pragmatic cooperation.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, Ukraine and China have made significant progress in building political dialogue and practical cooperation - from the first interstate contacts and the establishment of bilateral cooperation mechanisms to a strategic partnership, the decade of which we will celebrate next year.
The sphere of our interests in cooperation with China has always been extremely wide. However, new times dictate new requirements - and, in my opinion, we must breathe new life into our relations.
There are several centers of power on the geopolitical map of the world. And China is definitely one of them. I am pleased to state that Ukrainian-Chinese cooperation has always been based on a solid foundation of mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence, non-interference in internal affairs and recognition of the people's chosen path of development. These inviolable basic principles and their firm support from China are important to us, especially in the last years of Russia's aggression against my state.
China has always been and remains one of Ukraine's foreign policy priorities. The President and Government of Ukraine pay special attention to the development of cooperation with China.
We must work together to develop a new strategy, a new vision, new growth points. I am confident that the regular meeting of the Commission on Cooperation between the Government of Ukraine and the Government of the People's Republic of China, on the organization of which both parties are actively working, will facilitate the implementation of this. Analysis of the current state of cooperation, joint formation of a new agenda are the main tasks of this bilateral body.
Ukraine has a significant potential for cooperation with China in various fields, commensurate or even greater than in many other Eastern European countries. We are interested in the successful realization of this potential.
China has confidently taken the first place in the ranking of our largest trading partners: last year our trade turnover reached about $ 13 billion. And more and more confidently, China is gaining a leading position among Ukraine's main export partners. I am convinced that the current figures can be significantly increased.
However, it is important not only to increase trade, but also to diversify goods, increase high-tech products and products with a high degree of processing, high added value. Ukraine is working to leave the category of exclusively "raw material" supplier. We are confident that we will have something to offer, including China.
We are ready to work on finding new opportunities for further expansion of bilateral trade and economic cooperation within the Commission on Cooperation between the governments of our countries.
I would like to emphasize that Ukraine became one of the first countries to support the initiative of President Xi Jinping "One Belt, One Road". Ukraine has a unique geographical location - on the eastern border of the EU, on the way from Asia to Europe, as well as between the Black and Baltic Seas. We have the necessary economic and industrial potential to participate effectively in this ambitious project.
Credit and investment, agro-industrial, machine-building and transport spheres should be mentioned among the priority areas of practical cooperation. Ukraine has significant scientific and educational potential, rich culture. All this provides good opportunities for increasing the volume of trade and economic cooperation, intensification of bilateral humanitarian contacts and exchanges.
To create better conditions for tourism development, Ukraine introduced a temporary visa-free regime for Chinese tourists on August 1. We will continue to try to improve the conditions for mutual travel of citizens of the two countries so that they have better opportunities to get acquainted with the rich history and culture of Ukraine and China.
One of the steps towards cultural rapprochement between our friendly nations should be the systematic training of sinologists in Ukraine. Chinese is already taught in secondary schools and higher education institutions. In Ukraine, about 500 sinologists receive diplomas in philology every year. We have qualified translators.
Ukrainians have always been interested in the history, culture and language of fascinating and mysterious China. China is being studied by Ukrainian economists, lawyers and historians. Our specialists willingly participate in international scientific conferences of sinologists.
Today, thousands of Ukrainian specialists work in China in various fields, from teaching to IT. Of course, we would be pleased to see our professional youth at home. And this is what we strive for. However, I am sure that our Chinese friends appreciate the experience and professional level of Ukrainians. A clear evidence of this is hundreds of interested Chinese enrollees willing to receive diplomas of Ukrainian universities every year.
- What are your hopes and plans for the further development of Chinese-Ukrainian relations?
- This year our bilateral contacts were significantly limited by the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, our countries have worked together effectively to address this common challenge. I would like to thank the Government of China for its humanitarian assistance to Ukraine in the fight against coronavirus, assistance in the air transportation of medical cargo, as well as in the return of our citizens from China to Ukraine.
Thousands of test systems, masks, goggles, gloves and other personal protective equipment were sent to Ukrainian hospitals at the beginning of the pandemic in Ukraine in the spring. This saved many Ukrainians.
We are especially grateful to Chinese companies, NGOs, provincial people's governments and ordinary citizens for providing much-needed and timely assistance to Ukraine. This expression of friendly support is especially important and valuable for us in these difficult times.
Ukraine is interested in further coordination with China in the fight against the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. The issue of providing our citizens with a high-quality vaccine is of particular importance.
As I said earlier, Ukraine is developing and moving forward. I also want to see progress in Ukrainian-Chinese relations. In my opinion, it is time to give new impetus to our dialogue. I think that for this we need to resume a full-fledged political dialogue between our states. We need to restore the dynamics of bilateral contacts at the level of ministries and departments, at the level of heads of governments, parliaments and, of course, leaders. I will be glad to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping to Ukraine. It would be a great honor for me to visit wonderful China.
- The Chinese people will soon celebrate the Day of the establishment of the People's Republic of China. What would you like to wish the Chinese people and President Xi Jinping?
- On October 1, 1949, in the central square of Beijing, the then Chinese leader Mao Zedong announced the establishment of the People's Republic of China and opened a new page in the millennial book of Chinese history.
Today, China is the world's largest exporter of a wide range of products, the world leader in the market of e-commerce and online services, the second largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP. We see how your country continues to renew, improve and develop, achieving new goals, overcoming today's challenges.
I am confident that thanks to wise leadership, far-sighted policies and a willingness to win, the Chinese people will realize all their ambitious plans.
I sincerely congratulate President of the People's Republic of China Mr. Xi Jinping, as well as the entire Chinese people on the national holiday. I wish friendly China success and new achievements. Congratulations on the founding of the People's Republic of China!