President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday that China and Uzbekistan are working together to ensure the success of the Belt andRoadInitiative.
Speaking to the Uzbek parliament, Xi said that the trade volume between China and the countries along the Belt and Road routes has reached $1 trillion, onequarter of China’s total foreign trade volume.
Chinese companies have invested more than $14 billion in the countries along the Belt and Road route, creating more than 60,000 job opportunities, Xi said.
Xi put forward the proposals to create a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st CenturyMaritime Silk Road in 2013, with the aim of building a trade and infrastructure network along the ancient Silk Road trade routes to connect Asia with Europe and Africa.
On Wednesday, Xi also attended a ceremony to mark the trial operation of the longest railway tunnel in Central Asia.
The Qamchiq Tunnel, which is 19.2 kilometers long, is part of the 169-km Angren-Pap railway linking Tashkent with Uzbekistan’s eastern city Namangan. It was constructed by the China Railway Tunnel Group.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov said that the Qamchiq Tunnel is an important infrastructure project that has much significance for his country.
Mentioning that Xi’s hometown Xi’an is a city that flourished in olden times because of the ancient Silk Road, Karimov spoke highly of the Chinese president’s dedication to the Belt and Road Initiative.
Jointly building the Belt and Road is a highlight and priority in China-Uzbekistan cooperation, Xi wrote in a signed article published in the leading Uzbek newspaper Narodnoye Slove on Tuesday, ahead of his state visit to the country.
“China appreciates that Uzbekistan was one of the first countries to express interest in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and has joined it as a founding member,” Xi also wrote in the article.
On Tuesday, Xi visited Bukhara in central-southernUzbekistan, a city-museum with a history of more than 2,500 years, which he called a “shining pearl on the ancient Silk Road”. Located along the route of the ancient Silk Road, the city has long served as a center of trade, scholarship, culture and religion.
Chinese Ambassador to Uzbekistan Sun Lijie said on the eve of Xi’s visit that Uzbekistan has been a famous stop on the Silk Road since ancient times, and the Qamchiq Tunnel will become a link for the whole of Central Asia, which is a major partner of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
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