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Belarusian authorities aspire to boost voters expectations from cooperation with China

August 24, 2016 17:44

The Belarusian state media have launched a media campaign to promote Sino-Belarusian cooperation in order to demonstrate prospects for prosperity growth amid dwindling state resources to buy the loyalty of the electorate. The authorities aim to drag people’s attention away from criticism voiced by the opposition about the authorities’ failure to find a way out of the protracted recession. In addition, the Belarusian leadership aspires to strengthen its international position and consolidate its media image of the guarantor of regional stability and security.

In late September 2016, President Lukashenka will make a state visit to China.

The Belarusian authorities are unlikely to count on a breakthrough in Sino-Belarusian economic cooperation and on a major loan for the Belarusian economy. That said, the major ‘arrival’ of China in Belarus was announced back in 2006. Independent analysts say that until now Sino-Belarusian economic and investment cooperation demonstrated modest and rather controversial results.

In all likelihood, the state media aims to distract the population from the lingering economic crisis and falling living standards in the midst of the parliamentary campaign. Broad information campaign about the prospect of large Chinese investments and loans may help to reduce people’s interest in resonant election campaigns of opposition candidates.

Events in Ukraine no longer have a huge impact on public sentiment in Belarus and the authorities have exhausted their potential of peacekeeping efforts to keep their popular ratings high. In addition, in the absence of positive results in the economy, the Belarusian government anticipates to increase trust in public institutions by making high-level contacts with the Chinese leadership.

By strengthening Sino-Belarusian military and bilateral cooperation, Minsk aspires to support its image as a guarantor of regional stability and security and as a platform for international cooperation. That said, some analysts say that the threat of military-political pressure on Belarus from the Kremlin has increased amid devalued peacemaking efforts of Minsk in the Ukrainian crisis.

The fuss in the state-run media about Lukashenka’s official visit to Beijing also has drawn away people’s attention from the visit to China of Svetlana Alexievich, this year’s Nobel laureate.

The Belarusian authorities aim to create a domestic political resonance regarding the prospects for Sino-Belarusian cooperation in order to distract voters from economic difficulties during the parliamentary election campaign.

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