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UPDATED: November 5, 2013 NO. 38 SEPTEMBER 19, 2013
Silk Road Revival
China and four Central Asian countries intend to strengthen cooperation to revive the ancient Silk Road
By Ding Ying

Closer ties

Promoted cooperation will realize a win-win result between China and Central Asia. And Xi's Central Asian trip is an important part of China's diplomatic strategy, observers believed.

Jia Xiudong, a researcher on international political studies with the China Institute of International Studies, stressed that Xi's recent visit makes a golden decade of China-Central Asian relations possible. "Regional peace, stability and development concerns China's core interests, and is significant to China's national development, national security and diplomatic strategy," said Jia, adding that Xi's visit will help promote China's relationship with Central Asia in the coming years.

Yao Peisheng, former Chinese Ambassador to Kazakhstan, concluded that Xi had fulfilled the goal of his visit: strengthening mutual trust with Central Asian countries, promoting cooperation in specific areas and declaring China's policy on regional issues.

The CASS released a report on Central Asia's development, suggesting China should plot out a clear Central Asia strategy as soon as possible. In 2012, total trade value between China and Central Asia hit a new record of $40 billion. In recent years, China's economic, financial, investment, energy and environmental protection cooperation with Central Asia has been on a continuous rise. Moreover, China provided 560 million yuan ($88.89 million) to Central Asian countries in 2012.

The report said that China will not intervene in Central Asia's internal affairs. But China can set a good development sample for troubled countries in the region by designing a clear and sustainable policy concerning Central Asia. The report warns that if conflict between Central Asian countries sharpens, it will affect China's economic growth as well.

The Chinese president promised China respects the development paths and policies chosen by the peoples of regional countries, and will never interfere in their domestic affairs.

China will never seek a dominant role in regional affairs, nor try to nurture a sphere of influence, he added, saying that China and Central Asian nations should be genuine friends of mutual support and trust.

He also called on all sides to support each other on issues concerning sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and other important matters, and jointly crack down on the "three evil forces" of terrorism, extremism and separatism, as well as drug-trafficking and transnational organized crimes.

Shen Jiru, a senior research fellow at the CASS agreed that Xi's Central Asian trip will comprehensively strengthen China's cooperation with the four countries, especially in political, economic, energy, and cultural aspects. "Developing a relationship with Central Asia will help China combat various risks coming from its west frontier," Shen stressed.

Promoted cooperation between China and Central Asia will also help ensure stability through development in the region, where terrorism, extremism and separatism have a strong presence. Consensus is reached to build a harmonious region featuring lasting peace and common prosperity, said Sun.

According to a CASS report released on September 11, Central Asia is still under high pressure of anti-terror. Except for the "three evil forces," widening social gaps, poverty and drug trafficking are threatening regional stability. The report pointed out that there are at least 90 tons of drugs transported from Afghanistan to Russia and Central Asia, and more than 10 million drug addicts in Central Asia are using drugs from Afghanistan. Besides, during the U.S. troop's pulling out from Afghanistan, about 70 percent of their supplies need to be transported back home via Central Asia, which has attracted great attention of terrorists and religious extremists.

Though thousands of years have passed, people in the region still have the same dream of peace, stability and prosperity. With common efforts of different countries in the region, the ancient Silk Road will become a golden corridor linking Eurasian continents today, benefiting people along the way.

Email us at: dingying@bjreview.com

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