MINSK, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- China is a best friend of Belarus while Belarus is a highly reliable partner to China, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said Friday.
Belarus and China have all along maintained traditional friendly relations and their relationship has been upgraded to a strategic level, Lukashenko said in an interview with Xinhua and other mainstream media of China, on the eve of his visit to China.
Expressing satisfaction over the state of bilateral ties between the two countries, the president highly appreciated China's strong support to his country during the global financial crisis.
"We will always remember that our Chinese friends stretched out a helping hand to us in times of crisis," he said.
In the last 20 years or so, Lukashenko has paid many visits to China, which helped him know China very well.
Belarus has set up a number of free economic zones, modeled after those in China, said Lukashenko, adding that China's experience in economic development has begun to bear fruit on Belarussian soil.
Belarus is ready to expand exchanges and cooperation with China in all fields, from aerospace and military technology to manufacturing of household appliances, he said.
He said industry is the foundation and lifeline of Belarus' economy, accounting for 80 percent of the country's gross domestic product.
Belarus is now engaged in large-scale industrial modernizationon and is in dire need of funding. Lukashenko hoped China could increase investment in Belarus.
"China's investment has never had any political strings attached, therefore, we are more than willing to see China speed up its investment in Belarus on a larger scale," he said.
Although the yuan is not freely convertible yet, Belarus still holds the Chinese currency in its foreign exchange reserves, Lukashenko said.
"While many other countries in the world are mired in economic crisis, the Chinese economy enjoys stable and free development... The Chinese economy's robust growth gives us full confidence in the future of the yuan currency," Lukashenko said.