Nation to beef up Central Asian ties

By Zheng Lifei (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-10-19 08:58

URUMQI: China will provide more assistance to Central Asian countries under a regional economic co-operation programme to promote poverty reduction and economic development in the area, said Chinese Finance Minister Jin Renqing.

In particular, China will push ahead human resource co-operation among the Central Asia Regional Economic Co-operation Programme (CAREC) member countries, Jin said in an interview with China Daily.

Jin Renqing: Human resources a priority of co-operation
Jin Renqing: Human resources a priority of co-operation. [China Daily]

"And China is ready to extend, along with other international financial institutions, financial assistance to the (human resource development) project," Jin said.

Initiated by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 1997 as a regional economic co-operation mechanism, CAREC's overriding goal is to alleviate poverty and spur economic development in its member countries through more efficient and effective regional economic collaboration.

Besides China, CAREC currently has seven other member countries Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Russia has observer status.

Jin spoke ahead of the fifth CAREC Ministerial Conference, which will open tomorrow in Urumqi, the capital of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

At a meeting of CAREC senior officials held in August, China proposed an overall enhancement of the role it plays in member countries, which was endorsed by all participants. Jin said that this topic will feature prominently during the ministerial meeting.

"China is now considering providing financial assistance to the initiative for its implementation," said Jin, who will chair tomorrow's meeting.

The conference is expected to discuss and adopt a Comprehensive Action Plan, which will serve as guidelines for the strategic management of CAREC-initiated co-operation projects in various fields, said Jin.

CAREC is likely to expand its co-operation beyond its current priority areas to other fields such as environmental protection, AIDS prevention and control, and bird-flu epidemic prevention, said the finance minister.

CAREC currently focuses on financing infrastructure and improving the region's policy environment in terms of transport, trade facilitation, trade policy, and energy.

Jin said that the ministerial meeting, which will also involve delegates from the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Monetary Fund, is also expected to adopt the Urumqi Declaration, reaffirming member countries' commitment to regional co-operation and agreeing directions for future co-operation.

The minister stressed that CAREC should stick to its principle of conducting equal consultation among members and its non-political policy.

"Regional diversity must be respected and co-operation should always comes first," Jin emphasized.

"Meanwhile, CAREC should maintain its transparency and openness and co-operate with other development institutions to address regional development issues," Jin said.

For example, CAREC has started to work with the Shanghai Co-operation Organization in the fields of transportation, trade and other areas of mutual concern, said Jin, noting that this co-operation has achieved good results.

Regarding China's involvement in CAREC, Jin said the country is and will remain an active participant.

"The Chinese Government has always attached great importance to and actively participated in CAREC initiatives," the finance minister said, pointing to a series of activities that China has undertaken so far.