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Kyrgyzstan Hopes to Cement Role as Bridge Through BRI

Central Asia hopes to further consolidate its role as a bridge connecting China and Europe and strengthen its status as a logistics hub by participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, said Djoomart Otorbaev, former prime minister of Kyrgyzstan.

Otorbaev said he expects to see Central Asia, once a key passage of the ancient Silk Road, build a “new great silk road” that will bring the region back “onto the map of the world”.

The former prime minister said during a recent interview in Beijing that he hopes that through BRI cooperation, especially the construction of a railway linking Kyrgyzstan with China on the east and Uzbekistan on the west, Kyrgyzstan will transform itself from a landlocked country into a land-linked one.

The railway project is one focus of cooperation between China and Kyrgyzstan.

During his talks with visiting Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov on the sidelines of the China-Central Asia Summit in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, in May, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for an early start of the construction of the railway.

In a joint declaration that the leaders signed after the talks, the two countries agreed to speed up work on the railway to further tap into Central Asia’s potential for cross-border transportation, and said they will promote BRI cooperation in trade, infrastructure and other fields.

Otorbaev said the railway construction will not be easy in his country, but the success of the Kunming-Vientiane Railway linking China with Laos, a landlocked and mountainous country like Kyrgyzstan, gives him confidence.

“China has state-of-the-art technology to build a railroad in mountainous conditions (and) to drill tunnels. We can see it in the Kunming-Vientiane railroad,” he said.

Once completed, the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway will boost trade and investment in Kyrgyzstan, Otorbaev said, pointing out that the railway will allow his country to better benefit from the enormous rail traffic between China and Europe.

In March 2011, a freight train embarked on a trip from Southwest China’s Chongqing to Duisburg, Germany, making it the first train trip of the China-Europe Railway Express.

By the end of last year, a total of 65,000 trips had been made on the railway express, with 6 million TEUs of freight worth $300 billion shipped, official statistics show.

In the past decade since the BRI was launched in 2013, the railway has become an artery for BRI cooperation. Currently, there are 82 train routes for the express, and nearly 80 percent of its train trips run through Central Asia, People’s Daily reported.

Otorbaev said the completion of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway will further shorten the distance and time needed for trains to travel between Chinese and European cities, which will also benefit the inland regions of China.

Kyrgyzstan was among the first countries to have supported and participated in the joint construction of the Belt and Road.

Otorbaev said the fact that more than 150 countries and international organizations have joined the BRI is a demonstration of the “enormous success” of the initiative.

The world, which is becoming more divided over the past decade, needs dialogue to remain open and connected, Otorbaev said. “The Belt and Road Initiative is about dialogue and win-win (cooperation),” he said.

Source : China Daily