"China was the first country outside the former Soviet Union region I travelled to for a visit as head of state in March 1993," Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon recalled in a recent interview with Chinese news media.
In January last year, Rakhmon said, he also chose China as the first country to visit two months after being reelected as president.
The aforesaid facts had profound symbolic significance, Rakhmontold Chinese reporters in the interview.
Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to attend a summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe and pay a visit to Tajikistan in late August.
A land-locked country in the southeast of the Central Asian region, Tajikistan borders China to the east, with an area of 143,100 square km and a population of over 7 million.
During his last visit to China, Rakhmon and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao signed an agreement on good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation between the two countries, a document which charts the course for the development of bilateral ties in anew stage.
Tajikistan is willing to expand and deepen cooperation with China, which is experiencing rapid economic growth, in trade and economy, transportation, energy, agriculture, telecommunications and other fields.
According to Chinese customs statistics, bilateral trade reached 524 million U.S. dollars in 2007, and soared to 282 million dollars in the first half of this year, a 73.3 percent increase over the same period of last year.
The Karasu Port, China's only land port open to Tajikistan, became an all-weather port in March, which will provide a fresh impetus for bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
In efforts to attract foreign investment, promote economic growth and create more jobs, the Tajik government in May decided to establish two free economic zones that will be in existence for25 years, hoping that China's successful experience would help in this regard.
Security cooperation is a key component of their overall cooperation. In recent years, the development of cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries has been in keeping with the development of relations between the two countries and also the development of relations within the framework of the SCO.
In September 2006, China and Tajikistan held their first ever joint anti-terror military exercises code-named "Coordination-2006" in Kulyab, Tajikistan. And in August last year, they also joined the anti-terrorism military exercise code-named "Peace Mission-2007" jointly held by the six SCO member states.
As a result, the friendly cooperation between the two countries and their armed forces has been further consolidated, which is important for maintaining regional security and stability.
As Tajikistan's good neighbor, friend and partner, China firmly supports Tajikistan's efforts to choose its own path of development in light of its specific conditions, maintain domestic stability and boost national development.
Tajikistan, on the other hand, adheres to the one-China policy, and it also favors more stringent measures to fight all forms of terrorism, separatism and extremism.
Tajikistan has also offered enthusiastic support for China's hosting of the the 2008 Olympics. Early this month, Rakhmon was among scores of world leaders who attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games. He said that as a close neighbor of China, his country wishes to share China's pride in hosting the Olympics.
After southwest China was hit by a devastating earthquake on May 12 this year, the Tajik government offered China 100,000 U.S. dollars in aid and relief supplies including tents.
Rakhmon, when expressing his sympathies and condolences, said the hearts of the two peoples were linked.
During the interview, Rakhmon said he was looking forward to Hu's visit with keen anticipation.
Rakhmon said he was convinced his upcoming meeting with Hu will inject new and strong vigor and vitality into good-neighborliness and friendly cooperation between their two countries.