China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan signed a project cooperation agreement

Seetao 2022-09-16 17:27
  • The total length of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine Railway is about 523 kilometers, of which 213 kilometers are in China.
  • After the completion of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine Railway, it will open up access to markets in Southeast Asia, West Asia and the Middle East
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16 Minutes

On September 15, 2022, the Ministry of Transport of Kyrgyzstan, the Ministry of Transport of Uzbekistan and the National Development and Reform Commission of China signed a cooperation agreement on the Kyrgyzstan Sectional Construction Project of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

The signing of the cooperation agreement on the China-Gyrgyzstan-Ukraine railway construction project is the latest progress of the project. The Kyrgyz Presidential Press Office said on the 15th that the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine Railway will open access to markets in Southeast Asia, West Asia and the Middle East, and ensure the transportation of goods from China to Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, the Middle East including Turkey, and then to Europe. , the reduction in distance and time will improve competitiveness in the international transit transport market.

The agreement calls for the completion of all work on the feasibility study of the Turgat-Alpa-Makmar-Jalalabad route proposal for the Kyrgyzstan section of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine railway project in the first half of 2023.

Negotiations have lasted for more than 20 years with little progress

The China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway construction project was originally proposed by Uzbekistan. In 1997, China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan signed a memorandum of cooperation, and initially planned a project construction route from Kashgar, Xinjiang, to Kyrgyzstan via Turgat, and then to Andijan, Uzbekistan via Karasu in southern Kyrgyzstan, with a total length of about 523 kilometers. Among them, 213 kilometers are in China, 260 kilometers in Kyrgyzstan, and about 50 kilometers in Uzbekistan.

China attaches great importance to this project. In 2006, China included the construction of some trunk lines of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine Railway in its sixth five-year plan. In 2008, China adopted the railway construction plan of "Kashgar-Turgat-Karasu-Andiyan". However, due to various problems, the negotiation of the project lasted for more than 20 years, but it was difficult to make progress.

One is the track distance issue. Kyrgyzstan insists on using the former Soviet Union's 1521 mm wide gauge standard, while China hopes to adopt the internationally accepted 1435 standard gauge; the second is financing. The railway construction costs a lot, and Kyrgyzstan's finances are difficult to support, but it is unwilling to borrow again, which increases the debt burden, and the source of project funds has become a major problem; the third is the issue of interests. The Sino-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine Railway is located in the geopolitically sensitive Central Asia region, and passes through the First Eurasian Continental Bridge in Russia and the Second Eurasian Continental Bridge through Russia and Kazakhstan. These two bridges originally undertaken railway transportation in the Eurasian continent. The China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine Railway has formed a competition with it to a certain extent. In addition, the Kyrgyzstan regime has frequently changed, and the domestic situation has often fallen into chaos. Therefore, although all parties are aware of the importance of the project, it has been nearly 20 years until 2018. After discussions, planning and preparations, the project is still delayed and at a standstill.

The project construction began to make breakthroughs and gradually entered the fast lane

In recent years, with the continuous changes in the international situation and the rapid development of China-Uzbekistan-China-Kyrgyzstan relations, the political, economic, trade, security and cultural cooperation has been deepening, which objectively promoted the negotiation of the China-Uzbekistan-Ukraine railway construction project, and the progress of the project began to achieve breakthroughs.

In June 2019, China and Kyrgyzstan emphasized in the "Joint Statement on Further Deepening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership" that the two sides would continue to maintain communication, discuss technical parameters, and steadily advance the work related to the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine railway. In October of the same year, the working group of the Foreign Investment Department of the National Development and Reform Commission visited Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and held working meetings with the transportation departments of the two countries respectively to study and promote the work related to the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway project. In December 2020, China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan held a meeting of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine Railway Investment and Financing Working Group via video.

After the current President of Kyrgyzstan Zaparov came to power, he attached great importance to the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine railway project and expressed his support for the project in public on many occasions. In February 2022, President Zaparov held a meeting with President Xi Jinping when he attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The leaders of the two countries decided at that time the basic strategy for actively promoting the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine railway project. In May, when answering a reporter's question about the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine Railway, Zaparov said that he had explained to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Kyrgyzstan needs the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine Railway just as it needs air and water. After the sexual research, the construction of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine railway will start in 2023.

In June, the transportation departments of China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan jointly held a video conference of the three-party working layer of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine Railway. In August, Kyrgyzstan said that 80 Chinese experts arrived in Kyrgyzstan to start preparations for the feasibility study report on the construction of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine Railway.

If the project is successfully completed, it will be of great significance to China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan

In fact, for the two countries, the completion of the railway will not only help the two countries expand product exports and attract international investment, but also help optimize domestic transportation infrastructure and increase employment. In addition, the China-Kyrgyzstan-Ukraine railway project will not only play a role in connecting Central Asian countries, but also promote the connectivity between Asia and Europe. In addition to economic benefits, the completion of the railway will also help enhance the international status of the two countries and even Central Asia.

China-Europe Railway Channel Planning Map

From a larger perspective, after the completion of the China-Jiangsu-Ukraine Railway, it will become an important part of the New Eurasian Continental Bridge, improve the southern network of the New Eurasian Continental Bridge, expand the transportation scope of the New Eurasian Continental Bridge, and become a country covered by China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The interconnected and mutually beneficial landmark projects under the framework of the "Belt and Road" will not only help improve the transportation network in the Eurasian continent, but also help to create new opportunities for restarting the economy and exploring economic potential after the epidemic. Editor/Zhao E