Dialogue China-Central Asia calls for "to be friends not against someone", but for the mutual benefit of all parties
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) -- On a fine April morning, the streets of the capital of Uzbekistan changed: 400 new Chinese electric buses and large-capacity buses immediately left for routes in Tashkent. Bright, modern, they immediately attracted the attention of the townspeople, they liked it.
If in history the caravans of loaded camels served as a symbol of mutual exchange between China and Central Asia along the Great Silk Road, in our time one of these signs can be called a technological and environmentally friendly transport that makes life easier for thousands of passengers every day.
Of course, in comparison with the historical past, by 2023 the exchange on the Silk Road has become completely different in quantitative and qualitative terms. However, the creative philosophy of the ancient transport artery, its connecting essence, remained unchanged.
While visiting Central Asia, President Xi Jinping gave a speech a decade ago that launched the Belt and Road Initiative. The countries of the region were among the first to join the joint implementation of the megaproject, harmonizing it with national development strategies. Over the past time, the dialogue between the countries has become a worthy example of a new type of international relations, and the common border of China with the Central Asian republics, stretching over 3,000 kilometers, has become a link of good neighborliness and partnership.
Cooperation between China and the countries of Central Asia demonstrates an unprecedented level of development. In the 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the trade turnover and the volume of investments have increased almost a hundredfold, and the PRC has been acting as the key trading partners of the republics of the region for a long time. About 60 pairs of cities have strengthened their ties with sister cities.
The parties have achieved a lot as a result of the "golden 30 years", while setting themselves much more ambitious goals, marking the beginning of a new era in building a Chinese-Central Asian community of a common destiny. There is no doubt that the tasks set will be fulfilled. After all, as the Chinese leader aptly described, the partnership between China and the five countries of Central Asia is based on “four principles” - mutual respect, good neighborliness, friendship, mutual assistance and mutual benefit.
Another important factor, thanks to which high results are achieved, is the successful diplomacy of the heads of state for the benefit of the peoples of their countries. The "China-Central Asia" format is not new for Central Asia; a number of states offer such a platform for interaction to the republics of the region. However, it is the mechanism of interaction between China and Central Asia that not only meets all the demands of the time, but also, not being aimed at “friendship against someone”, brings the maximum benefit to all parties to the interaction.
The dynamics of the formation of the dialogue platform speaks for itself. The first ministerial meeting in the China-Central Asia format was held in 2020. Its agenda corresponded to the demand of that period: the participants discussed the problems associated with the pandemic and overcoming its consequences. Nevertheless, by organizing the meeting, official Beijing demonstrated its desire to establish a dialogue with a united Central Asia, regarding it as an integral subject of political, trade and economic interaction.
By early 2022, the format had gone beyond the meeting of foreign ministers and had risen to the level of heads of state. In January of that year, the leaders of the countries of Central Asia and China held the first meeting in an online format, which became a significant impetus for advancing ties in several directions at once. In 2023, the ministers responsible for foreign economic and foreign trade activities joined the discussion of pressing issues of enhancing cooperation, at the meeting they substantively discussed liberalization and simplification of trade procedures, attraction of investments, expansion of the multilateral trading system, increase in mutual deliveries of products, introduction of the digital economy, development of transport infrastructure, strengthening regional cooperation.
It is important to note another significant advantage of the interaction platform initiated by Beijing. The parties are engaged in dialogue and cooperation within the framework of multilateral mechanisms such as the UN, SCO, CICA, the Belt and Road Initiative. The meetings between the leaders of China and the countries of Central Asia are becoming another opportunity to synchronize watches in these important areas of mutually beneficial partnership.
These days, Xi’an is hosting the first face-to-face China-Central Asia summit. A city with more than three thousand years of history, which was the starting point on the Great Silk Road, in our time opens a new page in the relationship of friendship and good neighborliness between the six countries. The leaders of China and the republics of the region have something to talk about at the same table. Neighbors face not only common development goals, but also similar challenges. Territorial and historical proximity determines an unprecedentedly wide range of issues discussed during the meeting, which makes the format unique and most in demand.