China Has Sealed BRI Agreements With All Central Asian Countries While The New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor Is A Success: China Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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China has signed Belt and Road Initiative cooperation agreements with all five Central Asian countries after China signed a memorandum of understanding with Turkmenistan days ago, and China’s BRI cooperation circle is still expanding, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin.

Central Asia stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to western China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north. It is generally considered to include five countries, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, with an approximate size of Western Europe and a population of 50 million people.

During Tuesday’s (January 10) news briefing, Wang said signing the Memorandum of Understanding with Turkmenistan is a significant achievement for both countries, which will further expand the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries and upgrade the BRI cooperation between China and the five Central Asian countries to a new stage.

Over the past year, he said, the BRI has made steady progress, injecting new impetus into world economic recovery: A total of 16,000 China-Europe freight trains were operated and carried 1.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of goods, which are up 9% and 10%, respectively. The New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (ILSTC) transported 750,000 TEUs of goods, up 18.5% year on year, according to Wang. The ILSTC is a new corridor connecting Western China and ASEAN and has been creating a huge impact on the development of transportation, trade, and economy of these regions.

The New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor

Illustrating this, Wang said that over 9 million trips have also been made on the China-Laos railway. More than 1 million vehicles have hit the road since Cambodia’s first highway, the Golden Port Expressway, opened to the public and the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, which has also been put into trial operation, Wang said.

The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project is a US$6 billion railway line that aims to connect the capital city of Jakarta to the textile hub of Bandung, reducing travel time from 3+ hours to circa 40 minutes. China was selected by Indonesia over Japan to build Indonesia’s first fast-train rail link due to China’s superior financial structure. The project is being developed by PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC) a joint venture formed in October 2015 between a consortium of Indonesian state-owned companies (60%) and China Railway International (40%). Although construction began in 2016, there have been extensive COVID-19delays. In April 2022, KCIC announced that the project was 82% complete with plans to be operational by June 2023.

Wang added that five countries signed new BRI cooperation documents with China last year, and China has just renewed the BRI memorandum of understanding with the Philippines.

“All these show that the BRI meets the needs of world development and the expectations of the international community,” Wang said. “It will remain resilient and dynamic.”

Wang noted 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the BRI and China “will continue to follow the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, work with all parties for common development, and make the BRI a bond that benefits the whole world.”

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