xi china belarus lukashenko
China and Western-sanctioned Belarus have pledged to strengthen "strategic coordination", as their heads of state met in Beijing on Monday.

Referring to President Alexander Lukashenko as "an old friend", Chinese leader Xi Jinping said the two countries would improve relations in a range of areas, from industrial cooperation to cross-border transport.

China would also strengthen coordination with Belarus on multilateral mechanisms, including the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, of which Belarus is expected to become a permanent member next year.

"China is willing to continue strengthening strategic coordination with Belarus, support each other resolutely, promote pragmatic cooperation, and continue deepening our bilateral relations," state news agency Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

Xi said that since their last meeting in March "political trust between the two countries was further consolidated while coordination at the international level was further strengthened". Belarusian President Lukashenko meets with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, amid Ukraine crisis

Lukashenko arrived in China's capital on Sunday for a two-day visit, aiming to discuss "trade, economic, investment and international cooperation" with its major partner in Asia.

The trip comes amid Western criticism about Belarus' involvement in Russia's war with Ukraine and Western scepticism about China's role in the conflict.

Comment: It comes amidst the West's failing war in Ukraine, its ailing attempts to provoke China in Taiwan, and its support for Israel's genocide in Gaza, which threatens to derail China's BRI, and to destabilise countries on the borders of both Russia and China.

According to the state-owned Belarusian Telegraph Agency, Lukashenko told Xi Belarus was "a reliable partner" and would "remain so".

Lukashenko also lauded Xi's "concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind".

"Unlike Western countries that are trying to tear everything apart, you have set the single goal for all," he said.

When they met in March, the two leaders pledged to improve their "all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership".

At the time, Xi highlighted the strengthening of "political mutual trust" between the two countries while Lukashenko voiced support for China's global security initiatives and peace plan for Ukraine.

They also committed to improve cooperation in areas ranging from defence and security, technology, joint investment, to manufacturing.

Over the past decade, trade volume between China and Belarus has risen steadily, with China replacing the European Union to become Belarus' second-biggest trading partner after Russia.

The EU has imposed various sanctions on Belarus in the past year in response to its involvement in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Comment: The EU is suffering the worst from the US-led sanctions: Slovakia warns EU it will block 12th sanctions package if it includes nuclear fuel supplies

Minsk has maintained friendly relations with Beijing since Belarus gained independence in 1991 and was one of the earliest supporters of China's Belt and Road Initiative, under which the two countries collaborated on the Great Stone China-Belarus Industrial Park.

In August, with increasing diplomatic exchanges, Belarusian Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin said diplomatic relations with China had reached an "unprecedentedly high level of cooperation".