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Invoking Shanghai spirit in Bishkek to build a shared future

By LU SHANBING | China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-27 08:03

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Akylbek Japarov (right) holds a grand welcome ceremony for Chinese Premier Li Qiang at an airport in Bishkek, Oct 24, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

Addressing the 23rd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization via video conference in July, President Xi Jinping had called for practicing multilateralism, upholding international fairness and justice, and building an SCO community with a shared future.

Meanwhile, Premier Li Qiang is attending the 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, while on an official visit to the Central Asian country from Oct 24 to 27.

It is of great significance to promoting the development of Sino-Kyrgyz relations, deepening practical cooperation and building closer ties between the two peoples given that Li's visit is the first by a Chinese premier there in seven years.

Since China and Kyrgyzstan established diplomatic relations 31 years ago, the two countries have always adhered to the principles of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation, and promoted the leapfrog development of bilateral relations.

The two countries have always moved forward on the road to good neighborliness and mutually beneficial cooperation. They have set an example of a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, equal cooperation and the benefit of all. The development of China-Kyrgyzstan relations not only benefits the two countries and their peoples, but also contributes to peace and stability in Central Asia.

China and Kyrgyzstan have deep political mutual trust. They established diplomatic relations in 1992 and became comprehensive strategic partners in 2018. In May, President Xi Jinping met Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, who was on a state visit to China.

They vowed to build a China-Kyrgyzstan community with a shared future, featuring good neighborliness and common prosperity. Both leaders also witnessed the signing of multiple cooperation agreements in the fields of economy and trade, industry, investment, customs, agriculture, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, opening a new chapter for the two sides' friendship.

In the past 31 years, leapfrog development of the bilateral relationship has laid a solid foundation for the two countries' trade and investment cooperation. Kyrgyzstan, which boasts abundant natural resources with immense investment potential, has been cooperating with Chinese enterprises for years.

China remains Kyrgyzstan's largest trading partner and exporter. Data from the General Administration of Customs show that their trade hit a record high of $15.5 billion in 2022, up 105.6 percent year-on-year. Two-way trade between China and Kyrgyzstan in the first eight months of this year reached $12 billion, with a year-on-year increase of 27.9 percent.

Further, the two countries have been making joint efforts to strengthen cooperation and scale up trade in newly-emerged fields including the digital economy. They boost service trade and optimize trade structure to promote the balanced development of beneficial cooperation.

China and Kyrgyzstan have also made great achievements in projects under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Kyrgyzstan is one of the first countries to support the initiative and is a model zone of infrastructure projects of transportation and energy, such as the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway.

These projects not only boost economic development, but also benefit local people. The two countries' enterprises have gained experience from traditional cooperative fields to extend it to new fields such as renewable energy sources, digital economy and green finance. They can promote the high-quality development of the BRI with complementary advantages and allocate resources efficiently.

Cultural exchange is an important component of the bilateral relationship between China and Kyrgyzstan, which enjoy close people-to-people ties. The two countries have more than 23 pairs of friendship cities and four Confucius Institutes have opened in Kyrgyzstan. Some Kyrgyz universities have set up Confucius classes and departments of Chinese language.

This year the Northwest University in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, established a Research Center of Kyrgyz Studies and signed a memorandum of cooperation with the National Institute of Strategic Studies under the Kyrgyz president. It is worth noting that I am the supervisor of a smart and diligent Kyrgyz PhD candidate. So personally, I too have contributed to people-to-people exchange between China and Kyrgyzstan.

Bilateral ties are at a historic high. Hopefully, the two sides can strengthen strategic docking and policy coordination to promote the high-quality development of the BRI and build a closer community with a shared future for China-Central Asia.

The author is dean of the Central Asia Studies Institute of Northwest University, Xi'an, Shaanxi province. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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