BEIJING (RFE/RL)—China said on Tuesday that it will provide Armenia with around $16 million in additional economic assistance this year, encourage Chinese businesspeople to invest in the Armenian economy and facilitate imports from the South Caucasus state.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reportedly made the announcement during talks with Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan held on the sidelines of an international economic forum in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian. The talks were followed by the signing of several Chinese-Armenian agreements. One of them is aimed at boosting commercial ties between the two nations, according to an Armenian government statement.
“We are ready to encourage our citizens to visit Armenia and familiarize themselves with your country as tourists,” the statement quoted Li as telling Sarkisian. “Efforts will be made to increase Chinese investments in Armenia.”
“We are also ready to import various goods from Armenia. As well as making investments, we want to see Armenian cognac, jewelry items and precious stones in the Chinese market,” he said.
Li added that the Chinese government has decided to allocate the extra aid to Armenia in recognition of “friendly relations” existing between the two nations.
An explanatory note released by the Armenian government said it will come in addition to an $11 million grant that was allocated by Beijing earlier this year for the construction of a Chinese school in Yerevan and the purchase of equipment for the Armenian customs service. It did not clarify what the extra sum will be spent on.
China has also donated hundreds of public buses and ambulance vehicles to Armenia in recent years. Sarkisian was reported to thank Li for this assistance. He also said that the Armenian government would like to deepen ties with Beijing.
“I am glad that our relations have been deepening in all areas in recent years,” the Armenian premier added, according to his press office.
Defense and security appears to be one of those areas. A military source in Yerevan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) last month that Armenia has acquired Chinese multiple-launch rocket systems with a firing range of up to 130 kilometers.