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Asia summit aims to revive trade routes

By REN QI in Almaty, Kazakhstan, XU WEIWEI in Hong Kong and CHEN WEIHUA in Brussels | China Daily | Updated: 2023-05-23 09:42
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President Xi Jinping chairs the first China-Central Asia Summit and delivers a keynote speech in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, on May 19. DING HAITAO/XINHUA

Meet reinvigorates ancient Silk Road and deepens mutual trust, experts say

The China-Central Asia Summit is reinvigorating the ancient Silk Road with the high-quality green Belt and Road Initiative that features joint contribution and shared benefits, international analysts say.

Khalid Taimur Akram, executive director of the Pakistan Research Center for a Community with Shared Future, Islamabad, said the summit hopes to revive these old trade routes and advance contemporary economic and commercial cooperation. Xi'an city represents the historical interactions and thriving commercial activity along the Silk Road as it is also the starting point of the historic trade route, the Pakistani expert said.

Akram added that China wants to see a dynamic and prosperous Central Asia that will support people in the region in realizing their aspirations for a better life and provide a significant boost to global economic recovery.

S.L. Kanthan, a geopolitical analyst based in Bengaluru, India, reminded that more than 2,000 years ago, Xi'an — also known as Chang'an — was the origin of the famed Silk Road, which linked Chinese merchants to those in Central Asia, Persia and the Roman Empire.

According to him, the ancient Silk Road could be viewed as the genesis of globalization and free trade, and its contemporary version is the BRI, the largest infrastructure project in human history.

"Obviously, the Central Asian countries are pivotal to the BRI since they act as China's gateway to the Middle East and beyond to Europe," the analyst added.

Shavkat Alimbekov, a researcher at the International Institute for Central Asia in Uzbekistan, said the summit would outline a new plan for the development of mutually beneficial relations for the future, and open a new era of cooperation.

He said the summit will continue to deepen strategic mutual trust between China and the Central Asian countries, which are friendly neighbors and strategic partners.

"One of the key aspects of this cooperation is the Green Silk Road program, which focuses on using green development strategies, innovative solutions and advanced technologies to achieve environmental efficiency and sustainability," he said.

Serik Korzhumbayev, editor-in-chief of the Kazakhstan newspaper DKnews, said he believes the summit will enhance long-term cooperation and development across multiple fields between the six countries, adding that "a new format of cooperation will make it possible to involve the Central Asian region with China's large market in close economic ties".

Common progress

"China has now become an important partner in trade and economic cooperation of the five countries," said Tursunali Kuziev, professor at the Journalism and Mass Communications University of Uzbekistan, adding that innovation and exchange in agricultural sciences have constantly pushed forward common progress in this field.

Sheradil Baktygulov, foreign affairs consultant at the Kyrgyz National Institute for Strategic Studies, said China deserves great respect and support for contributing to relations of peace, friendship and cooperation in Central Asia and for advocating mutually beneficial cooperation and peaceful development among all countries.

Mominul Islam, CEO at IPDC Finance in Bangladesh, said during his participation at the annual meeting of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific, or ADFIAP, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, that China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative has brought opportunities to Central Asia.

The summit has significant meanings to the region, as all five presidents from Central Asia participated, Islam said. He said the cooperation has been growing fast and the potential for deepening connections could be seen in various fields.

Nikolai Podguzov, chairman of the Eurasian Development Bank management board, said China is important to the whole Central Asian region. China has attached great importance to cooperation with Central Asia as well as the latter's potential, he said.

Central Asia is a fast-developing region, which has vowed to tap into energy efficiency, connectivity, food production, and other industries. The summit in Xi'an is set to solve some global and regional problems, boost mutual benefit for the economy, and strengthen cooperation both in the region and all over the world, Podguzov said.

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