President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev will pay a state visit to China on 23-25 January.
The modern stage of Uzbek-Chinese cooperation began on 2 January 1992, when after gaining independence Uzbekistan established diplomatic relations with China as a full member of the international community.
The historical roots of relations between the two states go back to the depths of centuries and today are a powerful basis for the development of a mutually beneficial partnership at the present stage. The legendary Silk Road, which connected regions and promoted mutual enrichment and cultural exchange, has nowadays acquired a new meaning and continues to serve as an economic, cultural and humanitarian bridge between countries and people along its route.
The two countries are also strengthening close ties within the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the «Central Asia-China» format and other multilateral structures, defending common interests and making a positive contribution to achieving security and progress around the world. It should also be noted here that Uzbekistan and China stood at the origins of the SCO and have always provided mutual support in the implementation of initiatives and proposals put forward by each other.
The established trusting and friendly dialogue between the leaders of the two countries plays an important role in the current development of bilateral relations between Uzbekistan and China.
Over the past seven years, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and President of China Xi Jinping have repeatedly met at multilateral summits, reciprocal state, official and working visits of the two heads of state have taken place, and a number of telephone conversations have been held.
The state visit of President Xi Jinping to Uzbekistan in September 2022, as well as state visits to China by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in May 2017 and 2023 have given a powerful impetus to the development of bilateral relations.
High-level bilateral interaction is also characterized by dynamic and sustainable cooperation. Inter-parliamentary cooperation has intensified. In May 2017, an inter-parliamentary group on cooperation between the Oliy Majlis and the National People’s Congress (NPC) was established. A fruitful inter-parliamentary dialogue is being maintained and a mutual exchange of visits by parliamentary delegations has been established.
Within the framework of governmental exchanges, official visits of Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov to China and Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang to Uzbekistan were held in 2019, as well as an online meeting of the heads of government in June 2021. In August 2022, the 6th meeting of the Uzbek-Chinese Intergovernmental Committee on Cooperation was held online.
In October 2023, Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov visited China to participate in the closing ceremony of the XIX Asian Games, during which he met with Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Qiang.
The mechanism of inter-ministerial political consultations has been established and is successfully functioning. A total of 17 rounds of meetings have been held in this format. Effective dialogue between the foreign ministers is also maintained within the «Central Asia-China» format.
In November 2023, the first Strategic Dialogue between the foreign ministers of the two countries was held in Beijing. On the margins of this event, a business forum was held in Guangzhou and a round table with business representatives of the two countries was held in Shanghai.
Today, China is Uzbekistan’s largest economic and trade partner. In January-November 2023, the volume of trade turnover between our countries totaled $12.2 billion, exceeding the same figure in the previous year by 34 percent.
Since 2011, within the framework of the Uzbek-Chinese Intergovernmental Committee on Cooperation, the two sides have been discussing issues of development and prospects for further expansion of practical interaction.
China is also one of Uzbekistan’s largest investors. The total volume of absorbed Chinese investments for 2017-2022 is almost $11 billion. Direct Chinese investments are working today in many sectors of our country’s economy, including chemical industry, oil and gas, construction materials, pharmaceuticals, agrarian sector, light industry and others. The number of Chinese companies involved in the implementation of major investment and infrastructure projects in the country is steadily growing. To date, 2,125 enterprises with Chinese investment are operating in Uzbekistan. In 2023, 601 new enterprises were established.
Poverty reduction is also an important area of bilateral cooperation. In this area, Uzbekistan is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the People’s Republic of China. In late December, the first meeting of the subcommittee on poverty reduction within the Uzbek-Chinese Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee was held.
Visiting the Syrdarya region last April, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said that Syrdarya should become a “region of advanced innovations” in industry, business, agriculture, education and medicine. In this process, it was proposed to use the vast experience of China, which has made unprecedented progress in industry, agriculture, education and medicine.
In June 2023, a business forum “Syrdarya-China” was held in the city of Gulistan with the participation of 250 representatives of leading Chinese companies, including “Huawei”, “TBA”, “CC7” and others. As a result of the forum, about 30 agreements totalling $322 million were concluded.
One of the key areas of China-Uzbekistan cooperation is also transport and communications. It fully meets Uzbekistan’s interests in transforming from a “landlocked country” to a “land-linked country”, as well as the concept of China’s “One Way, One Road” initiative aimed at reviving the Great Silk Road economic way.
Thus, within the framework of this initiative, the Angren-Pap railway line with the longest tunnel in the country and Central Asia as a whole was built in Uzbekistan with the participation of Chinese partners. The China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan transport corridor is becoming an international artery crossing the mountains. All four routes of the Central Asia-China gas pipeline pass through Uzbekistan, setting a benchmark for friendly cooperation between the neighboring countries.
The role of the Great Silk Road, which has connected our regions for centuries, symbolized peace, cooperation and openness between East and West, and served mutual trade, cultural and scientific exchange. Since then, Uzbekistan and China have continued to share friendship and the richness of their cultures.
Today, young people in Uzbekistan are showing interest in learning Chinese, and the Chinese are also learning Uzbek. This promotes the exchange of knowledge and cultural ties. For example, the Confucius Institutes established at the Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies and the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages have become key centers for the study of Chinese culture and language.
At the same time, there is interest in learning Uzbek in China, and it is successfully taught at institutions such as the Central University of Nationalities and the Beijing Foreign Studies University, while the Shanghai University of International Studies, one of China’s prestigious educational institutions, has a specialized chair in Uzbek. This interest is reflected in the growing number of students from China studying at Uzbek universities, which facilitates the exchange of knowledge and cultural ties between the two countries.
The «Uzbekistan-China» Friendship Society, established in 1998, also contributes to strengthening friendship and cooperation between the Uzbek and Chinese people.
On 18 May 2022, the Year of Culture and Art of the People of Central Asia and China was officially launched in Xi’an as part of the first Central Asia-China Summit. A number of cultural events, concerts and festivals, exhibitions, tour exchanges and presentations of Uzbek culture took place within the framework of this year.
Thus, in May 2023, a concert of the orchestra of the State Academic Big Theatre named A. Navoi was held at the «Beijing Opera House» in Beijing.
In September 2023, Uzbek Culture Minister Ozodbek Nazarbekov took part in the 6th International Silk Road Expo, which was held in the city of Dunhuang in China’s Gansu Province.
And in September 2023, the opening of the exhibition “Archaeological Cooperation – “One Way, One Road” was held in the museum of the Imperial Palace “Gugong” in Beijing, where Uzbekistan was represented by 18 exhibits from the “Golden Fund” of the country’s historical heritage.
In turn, “Days of Chinese Culture” were held in October 2023 as part of the visit to Uzbekistan by the Chinese Minister of Culture and Tourism.
Over 380 athletes from Uzbekistan successfully participated in 39 sports at the XIX Asian Games, which were held in Hangzhou from 23 September to 8 October 2023. Uzbekistan ranked fifth in the medal standings, winning 22 gold, 18 silver and 31 bronze medals.
Expansion of economic ties also contributes to the growing interest in Uzbekistan, its history and traditions in China. Thus, last year, more than 40,000 Chinese tourists visited our country.
In short, today Uzbekistan and China have reached a qualitatively new level of partnership and cooperation. According to the leading Chinese English-language newspaper «Global Times», 2023 has become a landmark year in the history of China-Uzbekistan relations. In this regard, the upcoming state visit of our head of state to China will strengthen the successes and achievements of bilateral interaction and open up further prospects of fruitful cooperation for the benefit of the people of the two countries.