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China-Central Asia cooperation continues despite COVID-19

Datetime: 2021-09-14 08:53:35

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A staff member unloads cherries imported from Kyrgyzstan at the Diwopu International Airport in Urumqi, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, June 12, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

China has strengthened cooperation with Central Asian countries in various areas despite the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, including joint efforts in fighting the virus and establishment of a foreign ministers' meeting mechanism, according to a report released on Thursday.

The Annual Report on Development of Central Asia, issued by the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China and Central Asian countries have supported each other in fighting the pandemic and carried out fruitful cooperation in political exchanges, trade, culture and other fields.

Mutual trade between Kazakhstan and China, for example, grew by 4 percent and reached $15.4 billion by the end of 2020, which was announced during a video conference between trade ministers from the two countries in April.

Although the pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the world, cooperation between China and Central Asian countries under the Belt and Road Initiative has shown great resilience and vitality, the report said.

Figures from China Railway Urumqi Group Co Ltd showed more than 5,000 China-Europe freight trains in 2020 had traveled through Alataw Pass in China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Central Asian nations, up 41.8 percent year-on-year.

Sun Zhuangzhi, director of the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the cooperation between China and Central Asia has made new progresses over the past three decades, especially due to the China plus Central Asia foreign ministers meeting mechanism lunched last July.

The new platform has forged closer ties among these countries and boosted regional cooperation, said Sun, adding it's vital to give full play to the role of the platform.

Gao Hanxun, associate editor of the report, said cooperation between China and Central Asian countries has evolved rapidly in recent years, with the Belt and Road Initiative contributing to regional economic growth.

China should step up cooperation with Central Asian countries, especially during the uncertainty brought by COVID-19 and political tumult in Afghanistan.

China and Central Asian nations could expand regional cooperation in accelerating economic recovery, maintaining regional stability and improving people-to-people exchange in the future, the report said.

In 2013, China has leveled up its cooperation with Central Asian countries and established strategic partnerships with all five nations in the region. By Zhao Ruinan | chinadaily.com.cn |