Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli
, special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping
, attended Saturday the funeral of late Uzbek President Islam Karimov in his home city of Samarkand.
"The Chinese leaders, government and people are deeply grieved at the death of President Karimov. On behalf of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government and people, I am extending deep condolences and sincere sympathy to the Uzbek government and people as well as Karimov's relatives," Zhang said at the funeral after laying a wreath in front of Karimov's portrait.
Karimov died Friday at the age of 78 after being hospitalized following a stroke on Aug. 27.
Karimov, founder of the Republic of Uzbekistan and an outstanding leader of the country, enjoyed great respect and love of the Uzbek people, Zhang said.
In the past 25 years, under Karimov's leadership, Uzbekistan has witnessed social stability, economic development, improvement in people's livelihood and international status, with remarkable achievements in a wide range of areas, the Chinese vice premier added.
Karimov was a close friend of the Chinese people and the founder and booster of the China-Uzbekistan relations, Zhang said, adding that the late president has made great contributions to developing bilateral friendship and deepening cooperation between the two countries.
"At this sorrowful moment, the Chinese people firmly stand with the Uzbek people," Zhang said.
The Chinese side believes that the Uzbek people will inherit and carry forward Karimov's unfulfilled wish to make great strides in national construction and revitalization, he said.
In a meeting with Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the same day, Zhang said China attaches great importance to its relations with Uzbekistan and will work with it to build a community of common interests and destiny that enjoys equality and mutual benefit and that sticks together through thick and thin.
The China-Uzbekistan relations have developed rapidly since the two countries forged diplomatic ties 24 years ago, Zhang said, recalling Xi's state visit to Uzbekistan in June, during which Xi and Karimov reached consensuses on deepening pragmatic cooperation, promoting common development and upgrading bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
"The fruits yielded in the development of bilateral ties should be cherished by both parties," Zhang said.
While hailing Tashkent for its long-standing firm support for issues concerning Beijing's core interests, Zhang said China will continue to support Uzbekistan in choosing a development path that suits its national conditions.
He said China will work with Uzbekistan to fulfill the agreements signed by both parties, continue to promote the Belt and Road initiative, and enrich the connotations of their all-round strategic partnership by prioritizing economy, trade, energy, production capacity, traffic and security in bilateral cooperation.
Mirziyoyev, who is in charge of the funeral committee, appreciated Beijing for sending a high-level delegation to attend Karimov's funeral.
Uzbekistan attaches great importance to the Uzbekistan-China relations, and will work with China to implement the consensuses reached by the two leaders of the two countries, broaden win-win cooperation and push forward bilateral ties, Mirziyoyev said.