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‘Belt and Road’ initiative helps Belarus fulfill auto dream


Alwihda Info | Par peoplesdaily - 27 Avril 2017

“China is helping us develop national industry wholeheartedly,” said Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Semashko. Belarus cannot realize its car dream so soon without Chinese enterprises’ rising strength as well as the “Belt and Road” initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Semashko added.


By Wu Yan, Qu Song, Zhang Guangzheng and Xing Xue from People’s Daily

‘Belt and Road’ initiative helps Belarus fulfill auto dream
Belarus’ auto dream has come true as a result of its cooperation with Chinese car maker Geely. Their partnership has entered a fast track since the “Belt and Road” initiative was put forward by China in 2013.

BELGEE, taking the first three letters of “Belarus” and first three letters of “GEELY”, a Chinese car maker, is the first Belarus-Chinese joint venture in auto industry and the only Belarusian manufacturer of passenger vehicles still under operation.

The quality of cars made by BELGEE has been recognized by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko after a test drive, who later ordered to use the company’s cars as official business vehicles.

Belarus has been restrained by bottlenecks to develop its automobile industry, but did not give up the dream.

After its independence, Belarus’s industrial capability was still underdeveloped due to long-term division of labor system in the former Soviet Union. For a very long time, the world renowned heavy truck production base couldn’t even produce an independently-developed vehicle.

Belarus’ dream toward building its own pillar car industry was always frustrated by the lack of capital, talent, technology and market demand. In the past, Ford Motors of the US, German Volkswagen and other carmakers have invested in Belarus but all ended up in vain.

In 2011, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd. started cooperation with Belarusian auto enterprises after its 2010 acquisition of Volvo Cars. As the construction of the “Belt and Road” initiative was advanced, the partnership started to drive on a fast lane.

Vladimir Pavlovich, assistant to BELGEE general manager, said he felt very proud when the first batch of cars rolled off the assembly line though he had previously thought it impossible to manufacture domestic passenger vehicles.

“I really appreciate that China has helped us realize our car dream ahead of time,” said Pavlovich, who had worked in heavy machinery industry for a very long time before the joint venture was founded.

“China is helping us develop national industry wholeheartedly,” said Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Semashko. Belarus cannot realize its car dream so soon without Chinese enterprises’ rising strength as well as the “Belt and Road” initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Semashko added.

By the end of 2016, the joint venture had created high tax revenue and provided jobs for many locals since the old factory started operation in February 2013.

The benefits are more than that. The Geely Holding Group has not only brought capital, equipment and technologies but also cultivated auto workers for the joint venture, which is more important for Belarus to develop its own vehicle brands, according to Andrey Semelev, acting general manager of BELGEE.

In 2016, the BELGEE sent a total of 92 Belarusian employees to Geely’s base in China for a specialized training lasting one to six months.

Anna, 23, was one of the trainees. Now with expertise in polyvinylchloride (PVC), Anna said she never saw how a car was made before attending the training.

“The Chinese trainers are very nice, patient and conscientious,” she added.

Zimmer, 31, head of the welding workshop, said he learnt a lot of professional knowledge and management experience in China, which he thinks will be useful in future.

Cheng Wen’an, BELGEE’s production general manager, was proud that Geely has established the joint venture with an overseas partner.

President Xi visited Geely in January 2003 soon after he became the governor and Party secretary of East China’s Zhejiang Province, said Cheng, also general manager of Geely overseas manufacturing center.

Cheng remembered Xi’s comments that “if we don’t give additional strong support to companies like Geely, then whom are we going to support?”, saying that Xi’s attention to the joint venture in recent years have helped accelerate its development.

“That indicates a national leader’s supports to self-developed brands and the globalization of the country’s enterprises,” Cheng added.

Pic: Belarusian workers learn to weld under the guidance of Chinese technicians. (Photo by Wu Yan from People’s Daily)


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