Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Beijing on October 17, 2023 (XINHUA)
The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has provided opportunities to help diversify Uzbekistan's transportation network and expand the landlocked country's export markets, a researcher affiliated with Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry told Beijing Review.
Multimodal cargo transportation via the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Highway is making headway, said Zilola Yunusova, head of department at the Center for International Relations Studies under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The highway connects Kashgar in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region with Osh, Kyrgyzstan and Tashkent, Uzbekistan as part of the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor.
The BRI, put forward by President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to boost connectivity along and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes. Its priorities include policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and closer people-to-people ties.
Chinese official statistics show trade between China and Uzbekistan amounted to $9.78 billion in 2022, up 21.8 percent year on year. China is Uzbekistan's largest trading partner and one of its major sources of foreign investment.
Engineers work at the control room of a Chinese-invested cement plant in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on September 16, 2023 (XINHUA)
"Active interaction between the two countries in promoting the BRI has become a testament to the high level of their strategic partnership," Yunusova said.
Uzbekistan, a Central Asian country that enjoyed close ties with China through the Silk Road in ancient times, was among the first to support the BRI. Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has taken part in all the three editions of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, held in Beijing in 2017, 2019 and on October 17-18 this year.
The exchange of experience in socioeconomic development, including poverty alleviation, is becoming another major area of China-Uzbekistan cooperation, Yunusova said.
Since reform and opening up began in China in the late 1970s, it has helped more than 770 million rural residents living below the poverty line escape poverty, accounting for more than 70 percent of the global total over the same period.
Based on the Chinese experience and with the participation of Chinese experts, 18 targeted socioeconomic projects have been prepared to reduce poverty in 14 districts of Uzbekistan, Yunusova said.
Copyedited by G.P. Wilson
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