BRI pushed China-Kyrgyzstan relations to the fast track
Han Yichen

Editor's note: Han Yichen is an assistant research fellow at the Institute of Eurasian Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. The article reflects the author's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has embarked on a state visit to Kyrgyzstan for the 19th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) from June 12 to 14. President Xi's visit will further promote bilateral cooperation and push China-Kyrgyzstan relations to a new level.

China and Kyrgyzstan share a border of over 1,000 kilometers. The history of friendly exchanges between the two nations has lasted for more than 2,000 years. In the past 27 years since the independence of Kyrgyzstan, China-Kyrgyzstan relations have been developing rapidly.

President Xi Jinping meets with Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov in Beijing, April 28, 2019. /Xinhua Photo.

President Xi Jinping meets with Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov in Beijing, April 28, 2019. /Xinhua Photo.

In June 2018, China and Kyrgyzstan upgraded the bilateral relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership and opened a new era of China-Kyrgyzstan cooperation.

Kyrgyzstan was one of the first countries to support and participate in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Located in the center of Eurasia, Kyrgyzstan has significant regional advantages. It is a bridge connecting the East and the West, Asia and Europe. 

Under the strategic guidance of the two leaders, the construction of the BRI has become a new engine for the development of China-Kyrgyzstan relations. And the bilateral pragmatic cooperation achieved fruitful results.

In terms of trade, China remains the largest trading partner and exporter of Kyrgyzstan in recent years. Kyrgyz pure and natural honey, fruits, meat and other agricultural products are quite popular in Chinese markets, while cheap and cheerful Chinese products are in great demand in Kyrgyzstan. People of this Central Asian country began to enjoy the convenient services of e-commerce and online shopping.

In terms of investment, China is the largest investor in Kyrgyzstan. More and more Chinese enterprises bring capital, production capacity, technology and development experience to Kyrgyzstan and play an active role in promoting the economic development of the country. 

Beijing and Bishkek are working together closely in the fields of infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, energy and other fields, which helps Kyrgyzstan develop national industries and reduce import dependence.

The BRI advocates interconnection, which is of great significance to Kyrgyzstan. In February 2018, the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan highway was opened to traffic. The new route has greatly shortened the transport time, realized the potential of transportation and narrowed the distance between the peoples of the three countries. 

Significant progress has been made in the construction of the cross-border fiber optic cables for information transmission. Beijing and Bishkek have signed a cooperation agreement on fiber optic cables and practically launched the project.

With the promotion of the BRI cooperation, the friendship of the two nations is continuously deepening. The bilateral pragmatic cooperation has brought tangible benefits to Kyrgyz people. The Osh Hospital aided by China is in use now and provides high-quality medical services to residents in the southern region. 

Bilateral cooperation in the fields of education, medical care, culture and art continues to promote mutual understanding of the two peoples. Kyrgyzstan has opened four Confucius Institutes and 21 Confucius Classrooms.

More than 4,600 Kyrgyz students are studying in China. Experts from the First Hospital of Hebei Medical University have come to Kyrgyzstan for volunteer medical consultation every year since 2008. The hospital has also established a Research Center of Congenital Heart Disease in cooperation with the Ministry of Health of Kyrgyzstan. 

The State Council Information Office of China and the Bishkek Humanities University have jointly established the "China Pavilion," which provides a platform for the Kyrgyz people to know China and Chinese people.

Opening ceremony of the "China Pavilion" at Bishkek Humanities University, June 10, 2019. /VCG Photo

Opening ceremony of the "China Pavilion" at Bishkek Humanities University, June 10, 2019. /VCG Photo

In the future, the BRI will bring more opportunities to China-Kyrgyzstan cooperation. The China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway is being actively promoted. Being an important part of the New Eurasian Continental Bridge, the railway will improve its southern path, broaden its transportation scope, enhance its position in international transportation and benefit countries along the Belt and Road.

The new North-South highway is also under construction. Upon completion, it will open up a new broad path over the Tianshan mountains. In addition, China and Kyrgyzstan are actively promoting a series of projects such as the renovation of the municipal road network in Bishkek and the reconstruction of agricultural irrigation systems. These big projects will give strong impetus to cooperation between the two countries.

Today China-Kyrgyzstan relations have entered a new era. In the new era, the ancient Silk Road is opening for new opportunities, strengthening ties between China and Kyrgyzstan and making the two nations closer.

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