“Stop the cup, throw the chopsticks, can’t eat, pull out the sword and look at the heart at a loss.”. The mood of Alexander Lukashenko, the current president of Belarus, is mixed. No matter what the result of the presidential election on August 9, Belarus will still hobble along in adversity, and its living environment at home and abroad will be more difficult.
this is the sixth time that Lukashenko, 64, has run for president, but the road to the election has not been smooth. As we all know, Belarus has been walking in the gap between Russia and NATO for many years, which can be said to be a three plywood.
Lukashenko has been discussing with Russia the possibility of unifying the two countries since the late 1990s. Recently, Lukashenko has launched the “alliance treaty”, vowing to regard the Russian White alliance as a long cherished wish to realize his dream of becoming a powerful country. However, he also has a rift with Putin for criticizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Russia’s tax reform. Russia did not send observers to observe and comment on the election of Belarus this time. At the same time, the relations between Belarus and NATO have also been good and bad. NATO countries have repeatedly condemned Minsk for suppressing human rights and the opposition and interfering in media freedom. Originally, he hoped to improve the relationship with the two camps around him, but it didn’t work out.
first, the election has tempered a group of young opposition (the opposition is basically born in the 1970s and 1980s), and Lukashenko’s road to continue to be in power will face important challenges. There are four anti Lukashenko faces in the election in Belarus. Svetlana tiffanova, who is running for her husband, claims to create a new, honest and reliable electoral environment to replace the traditional central democratic dictatorship. Traditionally, she represents the pro Russian faction. Another pro European woman named Anna kanopach, who has won a lot of support from the European Union, has advocated integration with the European Union and refused to merge with Russia. Another presidential candidate is Sergey chereichen, deputy to the legendary Stanislav shushkovich, who drafted the “White Russia agreement,” and he is the technical strength of the candidates. The last candidate is Andrea Dmitry, a veteran opposition who supports reform of the presidential election system.
these young opposition groups have their own political ideas and the support of Russia or western countries behind them. They have accumulated a lot of experience in canvassing and confrontation. We also know the effect of using we media reasonably. Taking advantage of the poor performance of the Belarusian government in the fight against the new epidemic, they represented the new forces of the country and put forward new programs, slogans and new plans to increase the country’s vitality, which won wide public support. In the future, anti system movements will be strengthened and young people will be more willing to be active in the political arena.
second, is the Russian White union truly integrated? Is Belarus a “dependent state” of Russia? Professor zubates of the Financial Research Institute of the Russian Federation gives the answer: Belarus can survive without Russia, but it has to tighten its belt, that is, the living standard will be reduced by half. Lukashenko and his opponents know that without Russia’s aid and market, Belarus will not recover. After all, Russia accounts for 40% of its exports and 60% of its imports. The second quarter of this year, affected by the new epidemic, the GDP of Belarus dropped by 2.3%. In the first half of 2020, the actual economic decline was 1.7%. Russia, too, is too preoccupied to draw on Belarus. Due to its poor economic structure and the same development background, Belarus can not get rid of Russia in the short term.
third, whether Belarus will continue to go east or turn westward. At the beginning of 2020, on the eve of the global outbreak of the new epidemic, U.S. Secretary of state pompeio quickly visited several former Soviet countries, including Belarus. After that, he immediately sent the U.S. ambassador to Belarus to resume diplomatic relations with Belarus. As Lukashenko pointed out in his visit to Austria at the end of last year, “the European Union has become a political partner and an important investor of Belarus” in order to bring closer relations with the West. Belarus hopes to increase dialogue with the West in exchange for sanctions relief and resist strong pressure from Russia. The author thinks that westward travel is the direction of the future, but the most important thing for Belarus to develop diplomacy is to give consideration to both the East and the West.
what kind of development path will the newly elected president of Belarus lead this small Eastern European country with a population of 9 million to follow its national conditions? In my opinion, the new president should first solve the following three tasks.
first of all, we should carry out economic reform, especially the reform of the state-owned economy. Belarus is a mixed ownership structure with state ownership as the main body, and the national economic management system is a combination of state intervention and market mechanism. Belarus is also an export-oriented country, and its economy is extremely vulnerable to the external environment.
the economic structure of Belarus is single, mainly industrial, but there is no “strong industry”. The most distinctive feature of the economic system of Belarus is that the state-owned system is the main body, and the state dominates the regulation and control of the economy, with a strong color of planned economy. As of July 1, Belarus had 52.6 billion rubles (about 1495 billion yuan), an increase of 7.8 billion yuan over the beginning of the year. Only the drastic reform of economic institutions can lead to a new round of national development.
secondly, resolve the contradictions with Russia. “De Russianization” has become the top priority of Belarus’ diplomacy. Russia and Belarus belong to the same Slavic nation and share the same origin. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Belarus was the country with the highest degree of retaining the political and economic system of the Soviet Union. However, due to Russia’s condescending posture, the momentum of anti Russia and “de Russianization” has been significantly improved in Belarus recently. Members of the Russian private military company were arrested in Belarus on the eve of the general election, and in 2019, the Ministry of information of Belarus issued a decree requiring TV stations to reduce the proportion of Russian programs and increase the dissemination of Belarusian language, reflecting the process of “de Russianization”.
anti Russia is mainly due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and Russia’s oil tax reform act which took effect in January last year. The tax law has led to a rise in the prices of Russian oil and gas exports to Belarus. It is estimated that Belarus will lose nearly $4.5 billion due to Russia’s oil tax reform in three years, and another US $10.5 billion by 2024.
but Russia and Belarus still have room for relaxation. Recently, the U.S. military command in Europe has moved from Germany to Poland, and at the same time, the NATO member country in the north of Belarus will also deploy anti missile systems. In fact, Belarus has become the last buffer of the confrontation between the Russian army and NATO and the bridgehead of Russia’s resistance to NATO’s eastward expansion. Its importance is self-evident. Russia’s intention to provide a large amount of economic and military assistance to protect Belarus from the storm is very obvious. It is obviously impossible to give up this “brotherly barrier”. Belarus can use this to bargain for more aid. According to the latest survey, only 6% of Russians think that Russia Belarus relations are tense, and 52% of them have a positive attitude towards Lukashenko.
Finally, is China a major option for Belarus. Belarusian Prime Minister glovchenko recently proposed that Belarus’s strategic development will be steady, with zero GDP growth in 2020 and 3.5% growth in 2021. Finally, the GDP will reach 100 billion US dollars in 2025 (60 billion US dollars in 2019). This grand goal needs to absorb more investment and innovation projects. With the second spread of the epidemic in Europe, countries have no time to take into account the investment in Belarus, a small country. China is an ideal partner.
economic cooperation between China and Belarus has always been centered on three important pillars: bilateral trade, Chinese investment and “Jushi” industrial park. In 2018, the freight volume of China Europe train passing through Belarus reached 332000 containers, accounting for about 90% of the total freight volume in Belarus. In 2018, the bilateral trade volume between Belarus and China reached 4.4 billion US dollars, an increase of 13%, reaching a record high. Trade between the two countries will slow down in 2019, but it will also exceed US $3 billion. There is huge room for improvement behind this figure. According to statistics from Belarus, China’s investment in Belarus from 2010 to 2018 is only 368 million US dollars, and there is still a huge space.
no matter Lukashenko said that he no longer regarded Russia Belarus relations as fraternal relations, or regarded Russia as a “key foreign partner”, Russia Belarus relations could not go into a desperate situation like Russia Ukraine relations. The two sides will carry out a game between big and small countries around their own interests, and the West will also try to balance the influence of Russia and China in Eastern Europe, and more efforts will be made by the west towards Belarus. Belarus will become a hot topic for all major powers in the near future.
and the relationship between China and Belarus will not change because of a presidential election. The epidemic situation has tested our true feelings, fully demonstrated the all-weather friendship between the people of China and Belarus, and fully reflected the sincere friendship of helping each other in times of need and sharing weal and woe.