New railway to link China to Central Asia
by Vladimir Rozanskij

Construction of the new line should start by next year after 20 years of talks, linking China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Scores of Chinese experts arrived in the Central Asian country for a feasibility study. The three countries are expected to sign a deal at the next SCO summit in Samarkand in September.

Bishkek (AsiaNews) – As many as 80 Chinese experts arrived in Kyrgyzstan to undertake a feasibility study for a railway to connect China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, the Kyrghyz Ministry of Transport and Communications announced.

The project has been discussed since the early 2000s, and the Central Asian country is determined to see it through.

Transport Minister Erkinbek Osoev met with representatives of the First Design and Survey Institute of the Chinese Railway Construction Corporation, headed by senior engineer Geng Jun.

A few days ago, Uzbekistan's acting foreign minister, Vladimir Norov, said that the three countries involved in the railway project could sign a deal as early as next month during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) on 15-16 September.

During an official visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Bishkek, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov spoke out in favour of the project, calling for an agreement to be inked in Samarkand.

On that occasion, Japarov stressed that the new railway was a national priority for Kyrgyzstan; for his part, the Chinese minister said, “we are ready to explore the possibilities of concluding a trilateral document on this project at the upcoming summit in September in Samarkand”.

The Kyrgyz president also noted that construction on the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway will begin by next year, to be completed within three to four years at most.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Akylbek Japarov said that work is set to start next autumn while Uzbek President of Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted that that the project will be realised "as soon as possible".

Discussions about the railway have been going on for 20 years, surrounded by many doubts, which now apparently have been lifted.