Chinese premier's visit enlivens ties, BRI cooperation with Kyrgyzstan

(Xinhua) 13:03, October 26, 2023

BISHKEK, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- On the uppermost floor of the Kyrgyz State Historical Museum in Bishkek lies a captivating exhibition showcasing an array of state gifts to Kyrgyzstan. Among them are a coral-red porcelain vase adorned with gold dragons, a gilt bronze Ruyi scepter, a masterpiece of traditional brushwork and others.

These Chinese gifts displayed in one of the most important museums in Central Asia bespeak the good neighborliness and close interactions between China and Kyrgyzstan, which are being further solidified and enlivened by Chinese Premier Li Qiang's ongoing official visit to the Central Asian country.

On Wednesday, the second day of his stay in Bishkek, Li met respectively with Kyrgyz Prime Minister Akylbek Japarov and President Sadyr Japarov. During his meeting with the Kyrgyz president, the Chinese premier said China stands ready to work with Kyrgyzstan to build a stronger, more dynamic and effective community of a shared future with Kyrgyzstan to better benefit the two peoples.

The meetings took place some five months after the two countries lifted bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership for a new era, pushing their diplomatic relationship to its best in a 31-year-long journey.

China-Kyrgyzstan relations have maintained high-level development in recent years, said Li during his meeting with the Kyrgyz prime minister.

Echoing Li, Japarov said 2023 is a "fruitful" year for Kyrgyzstan-China relations.

In his meeting with the Chinese premier, the Kyrgyz president also said bilateral relations have maintained a strong momentum of development.

Data showed that in 2022, trade volume between China and Kyrgyzstan reached a record high of 15.5 billion U.S. dollars, up 105.6 percent year-on-year. By the first quarter of 2023, China had invested 29.35 million dollars in Kyrgyzstan, becoming the second largest source of investment, the largest trading partner and the largest source of imports for Kyrgyzstan.

"Over the past 10 years, the main investment partner of Kyrgyzstan has been China, that is, in general, 33 percent of the attracted investments came from China," Zhalyn Zheenaliev, deputy director of the National Investment Agency under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Kyrgyzstan-China relations have been developing intensively in recent decades and today they are characterized as strategic, said Zheenaliev.

China and Kyrgyzstan share a genuine fraternal good-neighborly relationship and Sino-Kyrgyz cooperation is not bound by any agreement, said Igor Shestakov, a Kyrgyz political scientist.

In the two rounds of high-level exchanges on Wednesday forenoon between Li and Kyrgyz leaders, the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway, a key project under Belt and Road cooperation, was repeatedly brought up.

During the meeting with his Kyrgyz counterpart, the Chinese premier called for speeding up the construction of key projects such as the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway. Hours later, in his meeting with the Kyrgyz president, he called on both countries to work for an early start of the construction of the railway.

In reply, the prime minister made it clear that Kyrgyzstan is willing to work with China to deepen Belt and Road cooperation and speed up the construction of the railway. The Kyrgyz president said his country stands ready to promote Belt and Road cooperation with China.

These appeals and pledges bear great significance as they came roughly a week after the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing celebrating the first golden decade of the Belt and Road Initiative, during which China announced it would work with all parties involved to usher Belt and Road cooperation into a new stage of high-quality development.

In September 2022, China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation on the Kyrgyz section of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway, making significant headway in the construction of a transport corridor in the Eurasian continent that will enhance interconnectivity while enabling an economic breakthrough for Central Asian countries. Preparations for the railway have already begun.

For Zheenaliev, the railway is of strategic importance to Kyrgyzstan.

"The railway branch in the country is not developed, and the construction of this railway will allow Kyrgyzstan to get out of the railway dead end and reach a new level of logistics and transportation," he said.

"Central Asia is located along the ancient Silk Road, and all countries in the region have participated in Belt and Road cooperation in one way or another," said Kubanychbek Taabaldiev, a Kyrgyz political scientist and professor of international relations at Bishkek-located Ala-Too International University.

The China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway is indisputable evidence that China and Central Asia want to jointly improve infrastructure along the ancient Silk Road, Taabaldiev told Xinhua. "With the opening of this railway, regional countries will all have the opportunity to reduce the time of cross-border cargo transport."

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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