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Beijing cautions Kiev that China’s trade ties with Crimea should not be politicized

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said Chinese enterprises "have been historically maintaining contacts with Crimea"

BEIJING, March 15./TASS/. China has urged Ukraine not to politicize cooperation between Chinese companies and Crimea, sustained according to market rules, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday.

"Chinese companies maintain contacts with Crimea and cooperate with it based on market principles. This commercial interaction should not be politicized," the spokesperson told a briefing commenting on Ukraine’s frustration over a recent visit by a Chinese delegation to Crimea.

According to the diplomat, Chinese enterprises "have been historically maintaining contacts with Crimea. "I hope that the interested parties will duly settle the relevant issues through dialogue and negotiations," he said.

A Chinese delegation recently visited Crimea to hash over partnering on trade and tourism. The program included a trip to some wine-producing and agricultural enterprises, as well as resort areas.

According to the Crimean customs service, last year, China was listed among the peninsula’s major partners in terms of imports, along with Turkey, Italy and Serbia. The regional authorities reported that a Crimean tea producer had sent a test batch of tea to one of its China’s popular e-commerce sites, selling it within two hours. Exports of Crimean ice cream have continued for the past half year. What’s more, exports of agricultural products from Crimea to China surged 13.5-fold in the first half of 2020.

Following the pro-Western coup d’etat in Ukraine in February 2014, officials in Crimea and Sevastopol held a referendum, in which 96.7% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. Eighty percent of the voting population participated in the referendum. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deal on March 18, 2014, and the Federation Council (upper house of the Russian parliament) ratified it on March 21, 2014. Despite the results of the referendum, Kiev, along with various predominantly Western countries, refused to recognize Crimea as part of Russia.