Baku-Beijing relations enter new stage
In his July 1 speech, President Xi Jinping reiterated China's proposals to build a community with a shared future for mankind and promote cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative framework.
In fact, Azerbaijan and China's cooperation can be a case in point to show how countries can advance cooperation toward such goals.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and China in 1992, bilateral relations have developed smoothly, along with cooperation in political, economic, transport and logistics spheres. That bilateral ties will continue to develop smoothly was confirmed during a telephone conversation between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Chinese President Xi Jinping in early June.
Aliyev said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the two countries have demonstrated friendship, overcome difficulties and supported each other, and Baku is ready to further strengthen ties with Beijing, and welcomes the expansion of Chinese companies' operations in Azerbaijan.
Xi Jinping, on his part, stressed that Sino-Azerbaijani ties are on the verge of a new historical stage and Azerbaijan is an important partner of China in the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. Xi also said the Chinese government will further encourage Chinese companies to invest in Azerbaijan and strengthen cooperation in infrastructure projects, while emphasizing that China intends to import high-quality special products from Azerbaijan.
The two countries have a lot in common. Both have based their policies on the same principles, and focused on cooperation, economy and peace. And the two heads of state have repeatedly stressed the importance of fairness in the distribution of vaccines and making them accessible to people across the world. China has provided $2 billion to developing countries to fight the pandemic, and will offer $3 billion more in the next three years. As for Azerbaijan, it has provided humanitarian and financial assistance to 30 countries.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 74th session of the World Health Assembly, Aliyev said the "vaccine nationalism" being practiced by some advanced economies and the deepening inequality between developed and developing economies in accessing vaccines are a matter of great concern. In this regard, he called on developed economies and donor organizations to support developing countries, especially the least-developed ones.
The Chinese president made a similar appeal during the online discussion on the Davos Agenda of the World Economic Forum. China, according to Xi, is dedicated to promoting international cooperation to ensure equitable global distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, which is an urgent necessity, especially because countries with poor health infrastructure need immediate help to vaccinate their people so as to contain the pandemic. Only proper coordination of policies and cooperation can ensure victory against the pandemic, Xi said.
Baku and Beijing attach special importance to the development of trade and economic ties. Despite the pandemic and the global economic crisis, cooperation between the two sides is deepening. Huawei-Azerbaijan is already helping with the telecom infrastructure restoration work in the country. As a leading information and communications technology company, Huawei is ready to use advanced technologies in the development of "smart villages".
As a provider of leading smart city and smart village technologies, the company has extensive experience in this area, as it has implemented more than 100 global projects. For the first time in Azerbaijan, Huawei is using "AirPON Gigabyte" technology, which has already been brought to the notice of the Azerbaijani president.
Chinese companies are also showing interest in other areas of infrastructure building projects.
In April, the third Trade House of Azerbaijan was opened in Qingdao, Shandong province, which presents 45 types of domestic products and investments related to transport, tourism and other fields.
Azerbaijan attaches particular importance to the development of transport and logistics cooperation, primarily within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. It has completed all the necessary transport projects within its borders, and in order to become a part of the initiative, it has provided the necessary infrastructure, including the largest seaport in the Caspian Sea at Alat.
Today Azerbaijan and China are reaping the benefits of their partnership. The "Middle Corridor" passing through Azerbaijan and Turkey is acquiring special importance for China. In April, Baku received the second container train from Qingdao. Some of the 51 forty-foot containers were then transported via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway, as part of the New Silk Road, to Georgia and Turkey. By the end of 2021, ADY Container LLC plans to run about 50 container trains between China and Azerbaijan.
On Dec 4, 2020, the Turkey-China section through the BTK Railway became operational, with a train from Istanbul reaching Xi'an, Shaanxi province, 15 days later. The first container train on the China-Azerbaijan section started in February this year and carried cargo for Azerbaijan, as well as Turkey, Georgia, Romania and Italy. A link has also been established between the ports of Baku and Qingdao.
In short, Azerbaijan and China have a lot to discuss and develop, and have an agenda that is broad and meets the interests of both countries and their peoples.
The author is director of the international expert club EurAsiaAz and editor-in-chief of Azerbaijani news agency Baku Tribune. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.