Ukraine leader tours China amid resignation calls
A Ukrainian protester wrapped in the European Union flag stands in front of riot police in Kiev, on December 4, 2013
Ukrainians have been protesting since last month after the government turned its back on a deal with the European Union to tie the former Soviet republic's future to Brussels rather than forging deeper relations with powerful neighbour Russia.
Ukraine's government survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday over the issue, but the opposition and demonstrators are now demanding Yanukovych's resignation.
Over the weekend the country experienced its largest protests since the 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution, with about 100,000 demonstrating in central Kiev on Sunday.
That followed protests on Saturday spurred by Yanukovych's failure to sign the deal with the EU at its summit in Lithuania the day before. Saturday's protest resulted in a violent police crackdown for which Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov both expressed regret.
According to Ukraine's presidential website, Yanukovych kicked off a visit to China in the city of Xian, where he met the local governor and toured the World Heritage site housing the Terracotta Warriors, buried in the 3rd century BC by China's first emperor Qin Shi Huang to guard his tomb.
Yanukovych said Ukraine wants to forge closer economic ties with China, the world's second-largest economy.
"We are ready to cooperate in different economic spheres," Yanukovych told Lou Qinjian, the governor of Shaanxi province, according to the website.
"Ukraine is willing to cooperate with China at both interregional and interstate level."
Yanukovych was due to arrive in Beijing later Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a regular briefing.
Hong said that China was "following developments" regarding the political situation in Ukraine.
"We hope and believe that all relevant parties in Ukraine can solve differences through dialogue consultation and maintain national solidarity and stability," he said.
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