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BEIJING, February 17. /TASS/. China believes that politics should not hinder the development of economic ties and private exchanges between China and the Crimea, Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheng Guoping told reporters here on Tuesday.
"As for China and such a region as Crimea, some Chinese enterprises are considering development of trade, economic and investment cooperation [with it], and there is also the historically formed system of people’s exchanges. China respects these traditional normal exchanges and co-operation and believes that these normal exchanges and cooperation should not be politicised," Cheng said at a joint news conference with Russian Ambassador to China Andrei Denisov.
China’s interest towards Crimea has a long history. In late 2013, China and Ukraine signed a number of bilateral economic agreements, including one on the construction of a deepwater port in Crimea, on military-technical, investment and agricultural cooperation. China also then intended to launch a number of investment projects in Ukraine and lease some 10,000 hectares of farmland in Crimea. However, the Ukrainian coup has made the Chinese side to suspend the projects. However, already in March 2014 the Chinese side cautiously expressed the desire to develop co-operation with Crimea after the situation there stabilizes.
"China intends to develop mutually advantageous cooperation. As for the situation in Crimea, we are ready for cooperation after the situation there stabilizes," China’s Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said in March 2014.
Chinese investors later displayed an interest in taking part in the construction of a transport corridor to Crimea via the Kerch Strait. A combined railway and vehicular bridge across the Kerch Strait is to be completed and commissioned in 2018. The total length of the transport overpass is to be 19 kilometres. In January 2015, Russia’s company Stroigazmontazh owned by President Putin’s ally Arkady Rotenberg was appointed the sole contractor for the designing and construction of the bridge across the Kerch Strait. Arkady Rotenberg's fortune is estimated at $1.8 billion, making him Russia’s 27th richest person, according to Forbes magazines. Stroigazmontazh held negotiations with foreign companies, but the Chinese side has not made a decision yet on taking part in the project.