Ties with Kyrgyzstan upgraded
Updated: 2013-09-12 07:33
By Wu Jiao in Bishkek and Li Xiaokun in Beijing (China Daily)
Strategic partnerships established with all five Central Asian nations
China and Kyrgyzstan agreed on Wednesday to upgrade their ties to a strategic partnership and also to increase cooperation on security issues.
The upgrade means China has established strategic partnerships with all five Central Asian nations, paving the way for consolidated security and economic cooperation between Beijing and the neighboring region in the future.
President Xi Jinping and his Kyrgyz counterpart, Almazbek Atambaev, announced the upgrade in ties after a meeting. Xi arrived in Bishkek late on Tuesday for his first state visit there and to attend a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit. This is the last stop of his first Central Asian trip, which had taken him to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
During their meeting, Xi said the upgrade in bilateral ties marks a new milestone in Sino-Kyrgyz relations.
"We have common ideals and face the same challenges," Xi said while meeting reporters after talks with Atambaev. Aside from political and economic cooperation, Xi said, the two countries should maintain close coordination on security issues.
The Central Asian country with a population of 5.6 million borders the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Some of the terrorists groups in Kyrgyzstan are connected with terrorist forces in Xinjiang.
Atambaev said while meeting the press Wednesday that "Kyrgyzstan and China will keep close cooperation in security sector, and continue their collaboration in combating the 'three evil forces'".
Atambaev told reporters ahead of Xi's visit that at the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, leaders will exchange views on combating the "three evil forces" of terrorism, extremism and separatism, and drug trafficking and arms smuggling.
Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday quoted a Kyrgyz diplomat as saying that combating the "three evil forces" will be a priority of bilateral cooperation.
Jiang Yi, deputy head of the Institute of Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies, under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said combating the "three evil forces" now serves as a vital part of successful bilateral cooperation.
During the meeting, Atambaev also said that he "fully supports President Xi Jinping's proposal to forge a Silk Road economic belt", adding he expects fruitful progress in the economic belt in the near future.
In a speech at Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev University on Saturday, Xi proposed establishing the economic belt, similar to the original, ancient Silk Road of more than 2,000 years ago, to boost cooperation between China and Eurasian countries, which have a combined population of 3 billion.
The presidents witnessed the signing of documents, including an agreement on the construction and operation of the Kyrgyzstan-China gas pipeline, which will be a key part of the fourth Turkmenistan-China natural gas pipeline is vital to China's domestic gas supply.
The two nations also pledged to strengthen cooperation on energy and electric grid projects.
The two sides also vowed to boost cooperation in communications and transportation, and study the possibility of establishing cross-border infrastructure facilities.
China is Kyrgyzstan's largest importer and second-largest trading partner. Two-way trade reached $5.16 billion in 2012.
Chinese Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Qi Dayu said ahead of the visit that Kyrgyzstan was looking forward to Xi's visit as the Central Asian region faces challenges of economic development and security issues.
As the economic structure of the Central Asian state is still in transition, Qi said, the cooperation between China and Kyrgyzstan will focus on some large-scale infrastructure projects, such as the North-South Road in Kyrgyzstan and an upgrade to the Bishkek power plant.
Credit agreements on the two projects were signed on Wednesday.
Feng Yujun, director of the Institute of Russian Studies of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said economic relations with China is very important for Kyrgyzstan as its current trade volume with China equals the country's GDP.
"China's tangible assistance in Kyrgyzstan's infrastructure construction plays an important role in helping the Central Asian country, which holds a key position in trade in Eurasia," Feng added.
Meanwhile, a railroad that links China with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, that is under construction will form another pathway for China to go global, Feng said.
Atambaev said ahead of the visit that the China-Kyrgyzstan cooperation is important to Kyrgyzstan's "national strategy for sustainable development", a plan launched this year for the Central Asian country's development until 2017.
Kyrgyzstan will spare no effort to strengthen and consolidate its relations with China, which tops its foreign policy priorities, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldaev said in a recent interview.
Contact the writer at email@example.com
Mo Jingxi in Beijing and Xinhua contributed to this story.
President Xi Jinping meets Kyrgyz Prime Minister Jantoro Satybaldiev in Bishkek on Wednesday. Kyrgyzstan is the last stop on Xi's first Central Asian trip. Wang Ye / Xinhua
(China Daily USA 09/12/2013 page4)