China and Tajikistan established diplomatic relations on January 4, 1992. The two sides are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their relationship this year. Tajik Ambassador to China Rashid Alimov spoke to Beijing Review about the past and looks ahead to the future of relations between the two countries.
Beijing Review: Can you summarize the development of relations between China and Tajikistan during the past 20 years?
Rashid Alimov: During the past 20 years, our relationship has rapidly developed in a good way, and it will be better in the future. Our cooperation has covered political, economic, cultural and social exchanges.
The legal basis of cooperation has been cemented in the past two decades. We also made joint efforts and solved our boundary issues. Another index of our friendship is the development of trade.
China has also played an important role in helping Tajikistan consolidate our independence and sovereignty and implement our strategic plans.
China and Tajikistan are close neighbors. This provides us the possibility of coordination. The two countries not only have made great contributions to maintaining regional and world stability through security cooperation, but also have made joint achievements in striking the "three evil forces" of terrorism, extremism and separatism and cracking down on cross-border crimes such as drug smuggling.
Cultural and social communications between the two sides also have developed rapidly. Now Chinese language and culture are very popular in Tajikistan. In 1994, the first group of Tajik students, only three of them, came to China. Now, there are about 1,000 Tajik students studying in over 100 Chinese colleges and universities.
Tajikistan regards China as a priority of its foreign policy. The Tajik Government and President Emomalii Rahmon greatly value Tajik-Chinese relations. Now our relationship is in full blossom.
What are Tajikistan's expectations for trade growth in 2012?
Our trade and economic cooperation has grown tremendously. In 2005, our trade volume was $114 million. In 2008, in spite of the international financial crisis, it hit $1.62 billion. Hopefully, our trade in 2011 may set a new record of $2 billion.
We can predict that our trade volume definitely will be on the rise in the following years. Plus, more and more Chinese enterprises are investing in Tajikistan. The number of visas that we issue can also prove this point. Now the Tajik Embassy in China issues about 1,000 visas to Chinese businesspeople every month. In 2005, we only issued 514 visas during the whole year.
More Chinese enterprises are investing in your country. Can you give us some information in this area?
Tajikistan is a country of high mountains. About 93 percent of our territory is mountains. Therefore, we use mining to attract foreign investment. Chinese investors invest not only in our mining industry by exploring gold, lead-zinc ore and tin ore, but also in mineral processing. Tajikistan is a big cotton producer. Chinese enterprises cooperate with us in the textile industry as well.
The most important thing is both sides see the potential for increasing Chinese investment in Tajikistan and the quantity and quality of Chinese investment have improved. Tajikistan welcomes Chinese investors. We will try our best to make Chinese investors feel comfortable and convenient.
China's imports from Tajikistan are not large. In what areas do you think China can increase imports from Tajikistan?
In the early days of Tajikistan's independence, there were no direct roads, not even flights between China and Tajikistan. Considering the physical features of our border area, it was hard to build a railway between us. It was not until the second half of 2005 that regular flights were launched.