Uzbekistan and China: millennia-long friendship and cooperation
Published: Jan 22, 2024 08:03 AM
Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Recently, we have welcomed the year 2024, crossing the threshold of a new life cycle. The first month of a new year is always a time of meetings of the closest friends, a time of new hopes and accomplishments. It is profoundly symbolic that I will make my first visit this year to the Celestial Empire at the invitation of the distinguished President of the People's Republic of China, His Excellency Xi Jinping.

Every time I visit China, I sincerely admire the scale of the reforms taking place here, the accomplishments, creative strength, diligence and the talent of the Chinese people, who are confidently pursuing the path of modernization to realize their centuries-old dream.

Over the past decade, the People's Republic of China has turned into a mighty world power, achieved tremendous scientific, technological and innovative progress, and created a unique ecosystem of economic and business development.

The country has acquired a completely new image, the people's welfare has been steadily growing and a firm intellectual foundation has been forming for China's further development.

Today, China holds leading positions in world politics and governance as a responsible participant in key international processes. 

President Xi's global initiatives in development, security and inter-civilizational dialogue are significantly contributing to addressing common global challenges and accelerating the transition to a more sustainable and inclusive future.

The People's Republic of China plays a big part in supporting the economic growth of developing countries by expanding trade and investment cooperation, as well as implementing infrastructure connectivity projects.

As esteemed President Xi fairly noted, China is not only driven by domestic development, but is also looking globally and extending its responsibility as a major power. China's impressive achievements are the result of the forward-looking, deliberate and creative policies carried out under the leadership of President Xi.

Uzbekistan, as a friendly neighbor and comprehensive strategic partner of China, is sincerely pleased with the successes.

The development of multifaceted relations with China has been, and remains, one of the main priorities of Uzbekistan's foreign policy.

I would like to note with satisfaction that relations of our countries are experiencing the best period in their history, demonstrating a solid high dynamic. I believe this is indeed logical. "Great ancient civilizations always look alike, understand each other and are close in spirit." The Uzbek and Chinese peoples share similar cultures and ideals. Our historical ties go back to the origins of the Great Silk Road, through which much of the world's trade used to pass.

The oldest written sources recount in detail the visit of Zhang Qian, the first Emissary of the Han Dynasty, about 2,100 years ago, to the ancient state of Parkana in the Fergana Valley (in Chinese - Dayuan).

Chinese silk, paper, porcelain, tea and other goods became world-famous and widespread thanks to the markets of such ancient trading cities of Uzbekistan as Samarkand and Bukhara. Special breeds of racehorses, alfalfa seeds, grapes, wine production technologies, cultivation of garden crops and others were brought from Fergana to China.

Even back then, our countries - two great civilizations of their time, exchanged not only goods, but also knowledge. Scientists, mathematicians, astronomers and healers from Central Asia made a significant contribution to the development of Chinese science. Many of them became prominent public figures and scientists of ancient China.

The Canon of Medicine and other works of the great Abu Ali Ibn Sina from Bukhara were translated into Chinese and were used in the creation of the works Hui Hui Yao Fang ("Muslim Medicines") and Ben Cao Gang Mu ("Treatise on Medicinal Herbs").

The studies of historians indicate that the Tang Dynasty period was marked by the zenith of China's humanitarian exchanges with Samarkand, Bukhara and other major cities in our region. 

The art, fashion, national cuisines and other elements of cultural exchange grew quite famous in the Chinese capital and regions.

Rooted in centuries-old cultural and historical ties, and modern relations based on the closeness of mentalities and strong principles of friendship, today, mutual respect and trust serve as a solid foundation for our comprehensive and full-scale cooperation.

The Chinese people frequently say, "Brothers of the same heart can melt even iron." There is also a saying in Uzbekistan: "If brothers are united, a horse to ride shall always be." 

Over the past three decades, thanks to the trustful dialogue at the top level, and regular summits of the heads of state, the interaction between our two countries has been expanding even more, reaching new historical heights.

A unique multilevel system of development for mutually beneficial cooperation is formed, including such mechanisms as the Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee, the Inter-parliamentary Group, and the Strategic Dialogue at the level of foreign ministers, as well as active humanitarian and interregional exchanges.

We share a common desire to ensure regional and international security, a commitment to the central role of the UN and multilateral cooperation in tackling global challenges and achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

We firmly support each other on issues concerning the fundamental interests of our countries, such as state sovereignty, territorial integrity, compliance with the principles of good neighborliness, respect for the choice of one's own path of development as well as cultural and civilizational identity.

Trade, economic and investment cooperation between Uzbekistan and China has been steadily growing.

Following the outcomes of last year, the bilateral trade turnover grew by 40 percent, with China being our top trade partner.

Investment interaction is also actively developing. In recent years, the volume of Chinese investments has increased five-fold, and the number of enterprises with Chinese capital in various sectors of the economy has tripled.

A number of large joint investment projects are underway in high technology, alternative energy, chemistry, mechanical engineering, metallurgy, electrical engineering, infrastructure modernization, and other areas.

Thanks to our Chinese partners, we are taking important steps in developing green energy and creating 27 gigawatts of renewable energy generation capacity by 2030.

On the basis of this experience, we elected the Syrdarya region of our country as a pilot zone for innovations and implementation of joint perspective projects on the establishment of agro-industrial parks, automobile production and agricultural clusters.

The established firm and direct contacts enable the development of other regions as well. Last year, delegations with heads of all our regions visited China to build partnerships with provinces and cities of the People's Republic of China.

An intensive and fruitful exchange of experience and knowledge in modernization and solving socio-economic problems has been established. China's successful experience in poverty alleviation has proved to be highly relevant and useful to us.

We intend to further deepen this area of cooperation.

The Uzbek and Chinese peoples traditionally have strong ties in the cultural and humanitarian sphere. As a Chinese proverb says, "The friendship of countries lies in the closeness of nations, and the closeness of nations lies in the closeness of hearts."

It is very gratifying to note that year by year our citizens are becoming more and more interested in studying the Chinese language, as well as its rich history and culture. Chinese is taught not only in universities, but also in schools within the educational curriculum as a second foreign language.

Confucius Institutes are operating in Tashkent and Samarkand.

Several thousands of our young women and men are studying in bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in leading Chinese universities to become qualified specialists and take part in the implementation of future joint projects.

The historical and cultural proximity of our countries also benefits the development of active tourist exchanges. Uzbekistan is one of the countries that Chinese tourist groups absolutely must visit.

We, in Uzbekistan, are steadily developing tourism infrastructure. The regions of our country have established partnerships with Chinese provinces, which serve to attract hundreds of thousands of Chinese tourists every year. I would like to emphasize that hospitable Uzbekistan with its unique ancient monuments and picturesque nature always enjoys welcoming Chinese friends.

In China, the Days of Uzbek Culture, the exhibition of fine and folk applied arts of Uzbekistan, the Uzbek-Chinese Educational Forum will soon kick off. Also, the broad celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of partnership relations between Tashkent and Shanghai will take place.

I would like to invite our Chinese friends to take an active part in these events and get acquainted with the unique and centuries-old culture of the Uzbek people.

The multifaceted cooperation between our countries is a vivid model of friendship and mutual support in the international arena.

Uzbekistan is actively participating in various programs as part of the implementation of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has become a global consolidating force.

In 10 years, this grandiose idea of the revival of the Great Silk Road has gained supporters in all corners of the planet, uniting two-thirds of the world's countries. Today, from an appealing concept, it is turning into a practical reality. Renouncing the dividing line based on civilizational, economic and cultural differences, it has opened a whole new formula for strengthening interstate dialogue and cooperation, which unites the efforts of mankind for common prosperity.

For us, the BRI is not just an infrastructure project. Through the joint implementation of the initiative, the region is becoming an important link in global connectivity, overcoming transport remoteness.

Today, we can firmly state that the earlier voiced predictions of skeptics about the predestined fate of the region's countries to become only a transit corridor for China's trade with Europe, South Asia and the Middle East failed to come true.

Today, investments are increasing in Central Asia, with the number of joint high-technology industries growing, enhancing the economic potential of our countries.

China's strategic role enables Central Asia to be open to broad cooperation with the rest of the world, turning the region's geographical disadvantages into advantages. This, in turn, is an important condition for overall stability and sustainable development.

This is evidenced by the outcomes of the first summit between the heads of state of Central Asia and China, held in May last year in Xi'an, which was a breakthrough in our relations and defined the future development of multilateral cooperation.

This format has huge potential for building a model of comprehensive development of the states of the region and the western provinces of China, opens the prospects for the transition to close industrial and technological cooperation, as well as the development of transport, digital and humanitarian connectivity of the Central Asian countries with China.

Despite the instability and turbulence in world politics, we are looking into the future with confidence and building joint creative plans. That is what we will be talking about in our upcoming meeting with the distinguished President Xi.

I consider it essential to develop a new long-term agenda and forward-looking programs for the implementation of the key tasks of multidimensional cooperation for decades to come.

First, the priorities of the Samarkand Solidarity Initiative for Common Security and Prosperity and President Xi's Global Civilization Initiative are in many ways similar and aimed at achieving one noble goal: strengthening global inter-civilizational dialogue.

Nothing should prevent its development, the creation of the necessary conditions for strengthening peace and stability, and seeking mutually acceptable compromises on the most pressing issues.

Second, we are interested in taking our relations to a qualitatively new and higher level. The difficulty and dynamics of the processes taking place in the world today require regular exchanges of views and close cooperation across the entire spectrum of Uzbek-Chinese cooperation.

Our countries are united in their desire to ensure stability and security in the Central Asian region, and the SCO area in general, including addressing the negative consequences of the situation in Afghanistan.

It is important to establish mechanisms for regular, inclusive political dialogue, to achieve a multidimensional and meaningful interaction of all key agencies. The process of establishing and strengthening relations of cordial friendship, good neighborliness, and multifaceted cooperation must be constant.

Third, it is vital to maintain and build a dynamic pace of all-round trade and economic development, given the increasing range of new challenges to sustainable development such as the worsening energy, food and environmental crises.

A long-term Program of Large Infrastructure Projects will soon be approved with the participation of Chinese partners in the water, electric and energy grid, as well as the road and railway industry in Uzbekistan.

In these, it is important to envisage the strengthening of cooperation in the field of industrial cooperation and the expansion of digital and green technology transfers.

The dynamic development of our country, its huge human resources, and constantly growing scientific-technological and production-industrial potential inspire confidence in the fruitful and effective implementation of this program.

Fourth, joint work to ensure the development of transport and logistics infrastructure of foreign economic activity of our countries as part of the BRI stands as a key direction for long-term cooperation.

I am confident that the projects within the BRI will unlock the untapped potential of Central Asia for promoting connectivity and inclusive cooperation with the rest of the world.

We attach strategic importance to the formation of reliable and cost-effective international corridors with market access to the countries of South and South-East Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the entire Eurasian continent.

Development of a system of multi-optional and multimodal routes for the transportation of goods and passengers between China and Central Asia with access to the world market, creation of new terminals, construction of high-tech production storage facilities and complex infrastructure of roadside services, digitalization of logistics will be an important contribution to the development of intra-continental links along the historic Great Silk Road.

Fifth, the importance of the role of people-to-people diplomacy in strengthening Uzbek-Chinese friendship is now becoming more evident. We have established strong institutional foundations for the development of cultural and humanitarian exchange and cooperation in education, health care, sports, tourism and archaeology. This has become a shared wealth, an inviolable foundation of an understanding between our peoples.

As the famous poet of the Tang Dynasty Wang Zhihuan says, "One, wishing to see a thousand miles further, ought to elevate yet to another level." The steady positive dynamics of the development of the entire spectrum of Uzbek-Chinese relations confirm that our noble thoughts and ideas will be indeed fulfilled, creating conditions for further deepening and giving new practical substance to a comprehensive strategic partnership in a new era.

The year 2024 is the year of the "Green Dragon," promising to bring luck, well-being, and prosperity.

I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the people of friendly China on the coming New Year on the lunar calendar - a wonderful holiday Chun Jie, wishing peace, prosperity and many successes on the journey of fulfilling the Chinese dream in the year of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

The author is the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Pay a State Visit to China

Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan

At the invitation of the President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev will pay a state visit to this country on January 23-25.

Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev was born on July 24, 1957, in Zaamin District of Jizzakh Region to a family of doctors. He is Uzbek by nationality and has higher education, In 1981, he graduated from the Tashkent Institute of Engineers of Irrigation and Mechanization of Agriculture with a degree in mechanical engineering. He holds a Ph.D. in Technical Sciences and is an Associate Professor.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev started his career in 1981 at the Tashkent Institute of Engineers of Irrigation and Mechanization of Agriculture, where he served as a junior research fellow, senior lecturer, associate professor, and the vice rector for academic affairs.

In 1990, he was elected as a deputy of the Supreme Council of the Republic. He served as the Chairman of the Credentials Committee. 

In 1992, Shavkat Mirziyoyev was appointed as the khokim (governor) of Mirzo Ulugbek District in the city of Tashkent. From 1996 to 2001, he served as the khokim of Jizzakh Region and from 2001 to 2003, he was the khokim of Samarkand Region. He made a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the aforementioned districts and regions.

While working in the executive branch and concurrently serving as the deputy of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan from 1995 to 2003, he actively and fruitfully participated in the elaboration and adoption of important legislative acts.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev was appointed as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2003 and subsequently re-approved three times (in 2005, 2010, and 2015) in his post by both Chambers of the Oliy Majlis.

From September 8 to December 13, 2016, acting President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev was elected President of the Republic of Uzbekistan with 88.61 % of the vote based on the results of the presidential elections that took place on December 4, 2016. He officially assumed the post of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan on December 14, 2016.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev was re-elected in the presidential elections of the Republic of Uzbekistan in October 2021, where he received 80.1% of the votes. In July 2023, Shavkat Mirziyoyev won early presidential elections, gaining more than 87% of the votes.

Married to Mrs. Ziroat Makhmudovna Mirziyoyeva, they have two daughters and a son.