06/07/2024, 16.37
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Xi signs rail corridor deal Moscow didn't want

Bishkek and Tashkent ink a memorandum to connect Kashgar to Andijon. This will cut the freight journey to Europe and the Persian Gulf, while bypassing Russia. For the Chinese president, the agreement is "a show of determination,” part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan have officially signed an agreement in Beijing to build of a key railway corridor as part of China’s Belt on Road Initiative.

The 525-kilometre line would run from the city of Kashgar, in Xinjiang, through southwestern Kyrgyzstan, until Andijon, in eastern Uzbekistan.

Talked about since the 1990s, the US$ 8 billion-project is of strategic importance for China since it would significantly shorten the freight journey for goods from China to Europe and the Persian Gulf.

The three countries had signed a memorandum on the railway back in 1997, but technical and especially geopolitical issues stalled it.

Russia, which considers Central Asia as its backyard, was not at all enthusiastic about the railway since it was not a party.

With the war in Ukraine, however, the balance of power with China has changed. Due to Western sanctions, Russia is increasingly reliant on China for trade, and so the Kremlin gave the green light.

At the signing ceremony in Beijing, with the three presidents linked via videoconference, Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed the agreement as "a show of determination".

“The China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway is a strategic project for China’s connectivity with Central Asia and a landmark project for [our] three countries to jointly build the Belt and Road Initiative,” Xi said.

For the Chinese leader, such a project will benefit the three countries and their peoples and boost the economic and social development of the region.

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