Visiting Tajik president seeks to enhance ties

Updated: 2013-05-20 02:38

By ZHAO SHENGNAN (China Daily)

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Tajik President Emomali Rahmon seems to have enough reasons to be confident that his first visit to China under Beijing's new leadership will maintain close bilateral ties and give them "a new and fresh breath".

Visiting Tajik president seeks to enhance ties

Emomali Rahmon, president of Tajikistan

"Over two decades, we have built a relationship of sincere friendship, mutual trust and reciprocal support at the highest levels," Rahmon told China Daily ahead of his visit. "We treasure these relations very much."

Rahmon kicked off his two-day visit to China on Sunday, the country he paid his first official visit to outside the former Soviet Union in 1993. He is scheduled to meet with President Xi Jinping on Monday.

Since 2003 he met with former president Hu Jintao 13 times and saw both sides settle a centurylong border issue in 2011. He also witnessed bilateral trade increase by 14 times from 2007 to 2012.

Discussing his latest visit, Rahmon said he aimed to "analyze and review" the implementation of agreements reached last year during his visit to China, to "establish new horizons of interaction" and to uplift Tajik-Chinese relations to a "long-term strategic partnership".

"This level of partnership in the political domain complies with the fundamental interests and aspirations of our people because it will in the very near future positively affect the intensification and expansion of cooperation between Tajikistan and China in economic, military-technical, humanitarian and other fields," he said.

The close ties between the two neighboring countries were recently underlined by growing investment by China in the Central Asian country and cooperation under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

China's investment was widely believed to boost the development of other members of the bloc - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, but it also caused concern over China's so-called clout in the region.

Partner, not threat

Rahmon dismissed such concerns, saying: "China has never imposed or added any political conditions to any foreign aid it delivers to developing nations.

"In a globalized world the concept of 'sphere of influence' is somewhat outdated. As for China, it pursues a respectful and good-neighborly policy toward Tajikistan and other Central Asian states."

Last June, the two countries signed 10 deals, which would bring Tajikistan about $1 billion in new Chinese investment, loans and aid. Beijing also promised to grant Shanghai Cooperation Organization members preferential loans of more than $12 billion for cooperative projects. Up to then, China's total investment in other members was more than $20 billion.

"China's principles of assistance and cooperation with foreign countries - equality and mutual benefit, the desire for real efficiency, various common developments" are valued and welcomed by the organization's members, Rahmon said. Tajikistan, with its strategic objective of integration into the emerging new economic Asian realm, is in favor of China's steadfast and continuous progress, said the president. "It, beyond doubt, will provide more realistic chances for stability and harmonious development and prosperity for Asia and the world at large."

Rahmon hailed the "favorable and diverse" prospects for Tajik-Chinese cooperation, saying both countries are mulling over the signing of new cooperation documents in the fields of economy, energy infrastructure and development, communications and road infrastructure, agriculture, tourism, physical culture and sports.

In 2011, trade between China and Tajikistan reached $2 billion. China is the biggest investor in the Tajik economy. The total share of Chinese investments in the economy was 40 percent by the end of 2012.

Rahmon emphasized joint efforts to enhance bilateral cooperation in the energy sector, including construction of medium- and small-scale hydroelectric power stations on the country's rivers, development of "green" technologies, such as coal gasification, as well as an accelerated search for and development of oil and gas deposits.

Tajikistan is also "eager to expand Chinese investment in its agriculture and use the invaluable experience of Chinese farmers" and expects an acceleration of construction of Chinese new agricultural technology centers in Tajikistan, he added.

Meanwhile, the two "good neighbors" and "reliable strategic partners", which share a 500-km border, will strengthen cooperation to deal with security threats including the "three evil forces - international terrorism, separatism and extremism", said the president.