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Premier Li Keqiang Publishes a Signed Article on Uzbek Mainstream Media
2019/10/31

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang published a signed article on Uzbek newspaper Narodnoye Slove under the title of "Promoting Openness and Cooperation for Common Development" on October 31, 2019, ahead of his official visit to Uzbekistan and attendance at the 18th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The English translated version of the article, also carried by the Jahon Information Agency, is as follows.

I am looking forward to my first official visit to Uzbekistan as Chinese Premier and to attending the 18th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tashkent. Short as my stay is, I am full of expectations for this visit.

Uzbekistan is seen as a friendly neighbor and cooperation partner in the eyes of the Chinese people. Such a conception has been formed through the shared memories of the two peoples over the long span of history. During China's Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD), Zhang Qian, a Chinese diplomatic envoy, traveled to this land, starting the long tradition of friendly exchanges between our two peoples along the ancient Silk Road. Back then, Chang'an (the then Chinese capital), Tashkent and Samarkand were already bustling metropolises and magnets for traders. It was the shared commitment to openness that made two-way trade possible and contributed to glorious chapters in our two countries' history.

Such a conception is also derived from the growing bilateral ties in the new era. In 2016, President Xi Jinping paid a successful state visit to Uzbekistan, which saw the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership between our two countries. This year, Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov and myself exchanged visits. Such exchange of visits is unprecedented in the history of our relations.

Today, openness has again become a key word for the development and revitalization of both countries. Since the start of the historic process of reform and opening-up in 1978, China has made tremendous progress in development, delivering benefits to the Chinese people and creating development opportunities for the world. It is encouraging to note that Uzbekistan has also embarked on the path of reform and opening-up, promising fresh economic and social development.

Openness takes courage. In a world experiencing complex changes, rising protectionism and unilateralism, and mounting downward pressure on the global economy and trade, some have expressed doubts about whether it is still relevant or possible to stick to the policy of openness and even shown an inward-looking tendency. While openness in ancient times means overcoming the geographic barriers of mountains, deserts and snowy plateaus stretching thousands of miles, openness today requires the courage to rise above barriers such as various restrictions and prejudices, and it takes self-reform and innovative actions to do so.

Openness also brings important opportunities. When a country closes its door, it would confine its own development space; when it opens up, there can be partners for cooperation all across the world. The post-World War II history shows that it is the ever-deepening win-win cooperation and mutual openness among countries in the course of economic globalization that has sustained overall peace and continued development in the world. While Uzbekistan might be seen as a "doubly land-locked country", openness has turned it into a meeting place of the East and the West and enabled it to make significant contributions to human progress. Openness will again create a broad space for Uzbekistan's development to take off, like the soaring Semurg bird on its state emblem.

China sees itself as Uzbekistan's partner for open cooperation. With a shared commitment to openness, we will support and facilitate each other's development as we open up further, and leverage our comparative strengths to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and create and share development opportunities together. China stands ready to form stronger synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and Uzbekistan's development strategy, and develop a better-structured architecture for even more productive cooperation. We need to devise new forms of industrial cooperation, work for the solid implementation of cooperation projects, and translate our economic complementarity into tangible outcomes. China encourages well-established and reputable Chinese businesses to step up investment in Uzbekistan based on market and commercial principles, and hopes to see more quality Uzbek agricultural products enter the Chinese market. We welcome Uzbekistan's seven-day visa-free regime for Chinese tourists, which will bring more Chinese travelers to this country to appreciate its time-honored history and culture, picturesque scenery and unique ethnic traditions. We look forward to opening more direct flights for the convenience of our visitors. Growing friendly exchanges between our peoples will add new splendor to our long tradition of friendship.

During my stay here, I look forward to working with other leaders of SCO member states to reaffirm the Shanghai Spirit, expand mutual openness, raise the level of trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, advance regional economic integration, and build an open and inclusive platform for mutually beneficial cooperation. Traditional Chinese philosophy believes that "a man of virtue, while pursuing his own success, helps others to succeed as well." In this spirit, it is China's hope to work with all SCO member states to firmly uphold the UN-centered international system and the WTO-centered multilateral trading system, give strong support to multilateralism and free trade, and promote open cooperation between the SCO and the rest of the world, with a view to fostering greater openness and solidifying the foundation for the development and prosperity of our world.

Only with persistent commitment to openness can we broaden our prospects for cooperation and development. China will never give up its efforts of opening-up, but only open its door still wider. We stand ready to work with Uzbekistan, other SCO member states and the rest of the world to pursue greater openness and better achieve common development.

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