China, Kyrgyzstan push ties

Xi says two sides show mutual respect, equality
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov pose for a photo after Xi was awarded the country’s top honor, the Manas Order of the First Degree, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Bishkek on Thursday. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov on Thursday held a meeting where they agreed to promote the China-Kyrgyzstan comprehensive strategic partnership to a new level and continue firm support for each other to push cooperation in every field.

Experts, residents of Bishkek and Chinese companies reached by the Global Times said that the meeting of the two leaders on Thursday further deepened political trust, which would facilitate bilateral cooperation under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and people-to-people exchanges.

Thursday’s meeting was the two leaders’ second after Xi arrived in Bishkek Wednesday night.   

China-Kyrgyzstan ties have set “a fine example of a new type of state-to-state relations featuring mutual respect, equality and win-win cooperation,” Xi said when meeting with Jeenbekov on Thursday.

Xi pointed out that jointly building the BRI has become a mainstay of China-Kyrgyzstan cooperation. China is willing to import more green and high-quality agricultural products. China will also continue to support Kyrgyzstan’s social development.  Jeenbekov congratulated the People’s Republic of China ahead of the 70th anniversary of its founding and praised the great achievements the Chinese people have made under the firm guidance of Xi and the Communist Party of China.     

Jeenbekov said that Kyrgyzstan’s national development plan accords with the BRI and Kyrgyzstan is willing to deepen cooperation with China.  

The two leaders signed a joint declaration on further deepening their comprehensive strategic partnership and witnessed the exchange of documents of bilateral cooperation.  

Xi on Thursday was awarded with the highest medal of honor of the Central Asian country, the Manas Order of the First Degree.

Mutual Support

The two leaders also pledged strong support for each other.

Xi said that he appreciated Jeenbekov’s friendly stance toward China. China will carry on supporting the Kyrgyz people’s independent choice of a development path suited to their national reality, and all policy measures taken by the Kyrgyz government to safeguard national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Jeenbekov said that Kyrgyzstan would firmly support the one-China policy and take the same firm stance in fighting separatism, extremism and terrorism.

Xi will attend the 19th meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Friday. The SCO is a security alliance that brings together Russia, China, India, Pakistan along with the Central Asia nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Experts said that cooperation agreements on safeguarding regional security are expected to be signed among member states, which will help facilitate BRI programs and improve regional development in Central Asia.

Workers from China Road and Bridge Corporation build a major south-north road in Kyrgyzstan. Photo: Courtesy of China Road and Bridge Corporation
Strong ties

Li Quanjun, head of the China-Kyrgyz enterprises co-association in Bishkek, told the Global Times that Jeenbekov described China-Kyrgyzstan ties as being like “good brothers,” a phrase that Xi also used in a signed article released in Kyrgyz media before his state visit to the country.  

“It shows that both have a strong willingness to further improve the current strategic partnership. The enhanced mutual political trust will facilitate future China-Kyrgyzstan trade cooperation and programs under the BRI. We expect cooperation in fields of energy, mining and agricultural products,” Li said.  

Li’s association has received more than 20 groups coming from across China to Kyrgyzstan to seek business opportunities in the past year.   

“More Chinese enterprises and tourists are coming to Kyrgyzstan, and this has led to a real boom in local tourism and brought more employment,” Li said.  

In the future, Chinese enterprises will focus more on running their businesses in accordance with local laws and regulations and to avoid disordered competition, Li said, noting that this would help dismiss the “China threat theory.”

 Kyrgyzstan was one of the earliest supporters of the BRI. Kyrgyzstan has benefited from the infrastructure programs under the initiatives, experts said.  

Workers from China Road and Bridge Corporation build a major south-north road in Kyrgyzstan. Photo: Courtesy of China Road and Bridge Corporation

China Road and Bridge Corporation is participating in many road construction programs in Kyrgyzstan, including a major north-south road in Kyrgyzstan and roads that connect China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, Zhang Junwu, manager of the Central Asia regional center of China Road and Bridge Corporation, was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying. 

Zhang said that once these programs are finished, Kyrgyzstan will have a well-developed road network which will shorten domestic transportation routes and provide better connections with other regional countries.   

The well-developed China-Kyrgyzstan ties and opportunities brought by the BRI have encouraged more people, especially the young, in Kyrgyzstan to learn Chinese.  

Zhang Shicai, dean of the Confucius Institute at Bishkek Humanities University, said that four Confucius Institutes and 21 Confucius Classrooms are operating in Kyrgyzstan, and more than 7,000 students are studying at Confucius Institutes.  

“People in Kyrgyzstan have seen China’s quick development in recent years. More students in Kyrgyzstan choose to learn Chinese since it will offer more opportunities for their future,” Zhang said.  

Pan Zewen, a student from China who studies at Bishkek Humanities University, said that the average monthly salary in Bishkek is around $200 while people who know Chinese and work in a Chinese company in Kyrgyzstan could earn about $500 a month.