September 1, 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan celebrates this historical date as a stable, dynamically developing state, which continues to firmly and confidently follow its own path of development and implement an independent foreign policy.
It is known that, in early 2017, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev identified the main tasks of the country’s long-term development. They are reflected in the program of large-scale reforms formulated in the Action Strategy in five priority areas of development of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2017-2021.
Having started unprecedented reforms, Uzbekistan is becoming a competitive state, which is ready, on the one hand, to effectively respond to modern challenges and threats, and on the other hand, to use the opportunities that the globalization processes are opening. In our country, large-scale transformations and modernization processes are being carried out, which have become irreversible.
The new regional policy of President Mirziyoyev has created a strategically critical situation in Central Asia. Uzbekistan, together with the countries of the region, not in words, but in deeds, is actively participating in laying a solid foundation for turning the region into a zone of stability, development and good-neighborliness.
The reform course of President Mirziyoyev and an open foreign policy strengthened the position of the Republic of Uzbekistan as an attractive, responsible and long-term partner both for countries of Asia, Europe and America, and authoritative international organizations. Systemic transformations in Uzbekistan have also affected Uzbek-Chinese relations, facilitating active interaction between Beijing and Tashkent within the SCO and the Belt and Road Initiative.
It is gratifying to emphasize that in recent years there has been a high dynamics of deepening multifaceted cooperation between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the People’s Republic of China in virtually all areas. These are trade, economics, investments, energy, transportation, cultural and humanitarian and many other areas.
Such positive dynamics allows us to look with optimism and confidence into the future of Uzbek-Chinese relations. Despite all the complex consequences of the pandemic, the two countries managed not only to maintain the trend towards strengthening a comprehensive strategic partnership, but also jointly identify new facets of practical interaction.
Active political dialogue
The key factor in this dynamic of development of bilateral cooperation is an active political dialogue at the highest level. In May 2017, President of Uzbekistan Sh. M. Mirziyoyev paid his first state visit to China, during which fruitful negotiations were held with President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping. The heads of state have identified priority areas of cooperation for the coming years in order to deepen the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership.
A new impetus to the development of Uzbek-Chinese relations was given by the negotiations between President Sh. M. Mirziyoyev and President Xi Jinping in 2018 within the framework of the SCO summit in Qingdao. “New points” have been identified for further strengthening multifaceted cooperation following the meeting of the heads of the two states, held during the participation of the leader of Uzbekistan in the international forum “One Belt, One Road” in Beijing in 2019.
During the telephone conversations on May 7, 2020 and April 29, 2021, the leaders of Uzbekistan and China discussed a wide range of practical issues on the bilateral agenda. As a result, mutual agreements were reached on active interaction in the fight against Covid-19 and the consequences of the crisis, intensification of cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, and the economy in the context of a pandemic.
President of Uzbekistan Sh. M. Mirziyoyev and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping noted with deep satisfaction and gratitude the mutual support and humanitarian assistance provided during the most difficult period of the fight against coronavirus infection. The leaders of the two states said that this was another evidence of the strengthening Uzbek-Chinese relations of a comprehensive strategic partnership based on the principles of friendship, mutual respect and trust.
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Sh. M. Mirziyoyev took part in the annual summit of the heads of the SCO member states on November 10, 2020. The speeches of the leaders of Uzbekistan and China at this event once again confirmed the closeness and similarity of the positions of the two states on topical issues of ensuring security and sustainable development in the vast area of the SCO.
In order to practically implement the agreements reached at the highest level, a number of bilateral negotiations were held at the intergovernmental level. All conditions have been created for the qualitative promotion of inter-parliamentary ties between the two states. Practical interaction between the foreign ministries of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the PRC has intensified.
The economic foundation of bilateral cooperation
The consistent implementation of the agreements reached between President of Uzbekistan Sh. M. Mirziyoyev and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping allowed to maintain the high dynamics of bilateral cooperation in the spheres of trade, economy and investment. Thanks to the joint efforts of the two countries, in 2020 it was possible to minimize the impact of the pandemic on Uzbek-Chinese interaction, as evidenced by a number of positive trends in cooperation between the two countries in these areas.
First, over the past three years, China has maintained its position as the first trading partner of Uzbekistan. Before the pandemic, the annual volume of bilateral trade increased by an average of 30-40%, but in 2020 there was a slight decrease in mutual trade amid Covid-19.
The PRC also remains the largest export market for Uzbekistan. In particular, according to the State Statistics Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan, in 2020 China’s share in the total volume of Uzbekistan’s foreign trade amounted to 12.8 percent.
Along with this, not only a quantitative, but also a qualitative change in the structure of mutual trade is noted. This trend is primarily due to an increase in the volumes and types of Uzbek finished products and agricultural products supplied to the PRC markets.
Secondly, cooperation between Uzbekistan and the PRC in the field of investments and modern technologies, which are designed to accelerate technological modernization and diversification of the Uzbek economy, as well as to increase the country’s export potential, is becoming more and more intensive. The annual growth of Chinese investments in Uzbekistan ranges from 40-50 percent.
Today, China’s direct investments, along with the capital of other leading partners of Uzbekistan, are actively present in a number of sectors of the Uzbek economy. Among them are oil and gas, chemical, construction materials production, pharmaceuticals, agricultural sector, light industry and others.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the PRC