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President Hu begins landmark visit to Kyrgyzstan
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15:01, August 15, 2007

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BISHKEK: It was a milestone for China-Kyrgyzstan ties yesterday as President Hu Jintao began his first state visit to the Central Asian country.

The two neighbors signed a joint communiqu and inked nine agreements on environmental protection, information technology, anti-drug trafficking and the establishment of a Confucius Institute, among others.

Hu met Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev yesterday afternoon in the House of Government. The visit coincides with the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries and the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Sino-Kyrgyz Friendly Treaty on Good-Neighborly Cooperation in 2002.

Bakiyev paid a state visit to China in June last year, which experts said marked the start of a new period of development in Sino-Kyrgyz relations.

"Kyrgyzstan-China relations have a long history. The ancient Silk Road brought us together and it was a bridge for us to trade our goods and exchange our views and values," Bakiyef said yesterday.

Hu will attend the Bishkek Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) tomorrow and observe the joint military exercises "Peace Mission 2007" at Chelyabinsk in the Ural Mountains of Russia on Friday before flying to Astana for a state visit to Kazakhstan on Saturday.

In recent years, Sino-Kyrgyz economic ties have seen rapid development, making Kyrgyzstan China's second largest trade partner in Central Asia.

According to official figures, bilateral trade volume hit $2.26 billion last year, up 128.6 percent from the previous year. In the first six months of this year, it reached $1.14 billion, up more than 70 percent over the same period last year.

"I like China because the increasing economic cooperation has created more jobs for us," said Eric Abudumanef, a 33-year-old taxi driver who plies between Manas International Airport and hotels in Bishkek.

China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is one company that has not only built more than 300 km of good roads, but also provides hundreds of jobs.

"Our company has more than 20 employees in Kyrgyzstan and hires more than 500 Kyrgyz people. And we are glad that we can not only expand our business, but also help develop the local economy," Wang Jingchun, vice-president of CRBC, told China Daily yesterday.

"The transport facilities in Kyrgyzstan are not very good, so we expect more projects," said Wang.

Source: China Daily

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