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China-Central Asia economic, trade cooperation shows promise

Author  :  SUN LONG     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2018-04-18

China and Central Asian countries will cooperate more closely on economic and trade issues in 2018, according to the Yellow Book of Central Asia: Annual Report on the Development of Central Asia (2018), which was recently released by the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

The report suggests that the overall situation in Central Asia developed steadily in 2017. Central Asian countries have sustained economic recovery while cooperation in the region has become closer, according to the report. This region has maintained a relatively stable security environment while the turbulence in Afghanistan continues to be the major external threat to the security of Central Asia, according to the yellow book.

National conditions in Central Asian countries remained relatively steady in 2017. However, developmental disparities have become increasingly apparent, including disparities among different areas within countries as well as among different countries within this region, according to the report. In response to this, Central Asian countries, one after another, actively made and carried out various national development strategies.

The report suggests that in order to improve public living standards and safeguard national stability, countries in this region capitalized on geographical and resource advantages, stressing the importance of infrastructure construction. These countries prioritized adjustments to their industrial structures and improved the investment environment, emphasizing their roles as traffic hubs, according to the report.

The report suggests that the overall economic situation of Central Asian countries improved in 2017. The global economic competitiveness of these countries ranks at a reasonable level. The economic liberalization in this region and the environment for conducting business has improved, according to the report.

The report also pointed out several favorable factors influencing economic and trade cooperation between China and Central Asia. Central Asian countries share China’s support for economic globalization. China’s ranking as an economic and trade partner of Central Asian countries continues to rise. Countries in this region have actively participated in the development of the “Belt and Road” initiative and they have strategically aligned their development with China’s while jointly making plans for cooperative development.

Meanwhile, the notable improvement of relations among the countries in Central Asia is favorable to promoting large-scale and multilateral economic cooperation projects that China and Central Asian countries have planned in improving interconnectivity, infrastructure and energy resources like oil and gas. In addition to this, Central Asian countries have actively connected their development to the establishment of economic corridors that connect China to Europe, West Asia and South Asia. These countries have begun to benefit from these practices. Central Asian countries began to relax restrictions on visa and immigration of Chinese citizens, which will be favorable to bilateral investment and tourism cooperation, according to the report.

The 19th CPC National Congress specified the direction and planning of China’s international cooperation from 2020 to the middle of the 21st century. The development of the “B&R” initiative is facing an unprecedented opportunity, and it will also speed up regional economic integration on the Eurasian continent. In this sense, the prospects of China-Central Asian economic and trade cooperation are promising, according to the report.

Editor: Yu Hui

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