Summit to lead to deeper cooperation with Central Asia
Published: May 21, 2023 10:13 PM
China + Central Asia (C+C5)  Photo: VCG

China + Central Asia (C+C5) Photo: VCG

Cooperative projects between China and Central Asian countries rolled out in succession before and after the two-day China-Central Asia Summit held in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province on Friday.

Chinese experts said that the deals underscored the huge growth potential between China and Central Asian countries, especially in higher-quality and green development. The deals will inject fresh impetus into economic and social development in the region, they said.

On the sidelines of the summit, business representatives from China and Uzbekistan gathered in Xi'an on Friday, and concluded cooperation agreements in trade, energy, agriculture, digital technology and others.

China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC) and State Power Investment Corp signed an investment agreement with Kyrgyzstan to build the Central Asian country's first large-scale centralized photovoltaic (PV) project, CRCC said on Saturday.

The agreement covers a 1,000-megawatt power plant project. Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov attended the signing ceremony in Xi'an on Thursday. Kyrgyzstan is implementing reforms across its energy structure, and the power plant will be the largest of its kind in the country, Japarov said.

CRCC is willing to leverage its advantages across the complete industry chain to actively participate in the construction of infrastructure projects such as railways, roads and PV power stations in Kyrgyzstan and make more contributions to the country's economic and social development, according to Wang Wenzhong, vice president of CRCC.

Chinese food giant COFCO signed a deal with Kazakhstan's agriculture ministry to work on improving agricultural trade between the two countries, COFCO said on Thursday. COFCO will continue to invest in key links of the supply chain for Kazakh agriculture products including wheat, barley and oilseeds.

And, the joint establishment of a Kazakhstan-China automotive industrial technology and engineering personnel training center was signed between Yutong International and Kazakh company QazTehna on Thursday.

The agreement aims to strengthen cooperation and the exchange of experiences between the two neighboring countries in the automotive sector, said Wang Wentao, chairman of Yutong International.

Kazakhstan and China signed 47 agreements worth $22 billion, the Astana Times reported.

The signing of so many project deals is China's fulfillment of its promise to support Central Asian countries to achieve energy diversification and green growth, Song Wei, a professor at the school of international relations and diplomacy at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times.

It is expected that more Chinese companies will increase investment in the region and support the development and economic diversification of the five Central Asian countries, Song said.

By adding a route to Duschanbe, Tajikistan, Xi'an has become the first Chinese city realizing full coverage of international flights to all five Central Asian countries. Xi'an is operating 11 flights to Central Asian countries per week now.

China's National Development and Reform Commission on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding on industrial and investment cooperation with related departments of the five countries, to shore up a consensus between China and Central Asian countries on promoting regional economic, industrial and investment cooperation.

Liang Haiming, dean of the Hainan University Belt and Road Research Institute, told the Global Times on Sunday that as cooperation between China and Central Asian countries deepens, digital technology could be utilized to assist products from Central Asian countries enter China in a more targeted manner. 

Tapping digital technology such as big data and artificial intelligence will promote the market recognition of products from these countries and boost their exports, Liang said.

As of the end of 2022, China's direct investment in the five Central Asian countries reached nearly $15 billion, with cooperation projects launched in fields such as oil and gas exploration, processing and manufacturing, and connectivity and digital technologies, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.

On promoting the development of a third rail line between China and Kazakhstan, Kang Shuchun, director of the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, told the Global Times that the railway could be the shortest route between China's Bohai Bay area and Central Asia, West Asia and Europe.