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Belt & Road Info: Cooperation in Eurasia beefs up under Belt and Road Initiative
20 Oct 2017

 

The region of Eurasia holds great significance for the Belt and Road Initiative as it is where the idea of the Silk Road Economic Belt, part of the Initiative, was first proposed by President Xi Jinping in his speech at the Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, in September 2013.

 

Including Kazakhstan, a total of 12 countries in the region have established pragmatic partnerships with China in a wide range of fields during the past five years.

 

These partnerships have achieved fruitful outcomes and made great examples for future practice.

 

POLICY COORDINATION

China's Commerce Ministry signed memoranda of understanding for the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative with seven Eurasian countries shortly after the idea of the Initiative was formed.

 

In May 2015, President Xi and his Russian counterpart Putin issued the Joint Statement on Cooperation of Connection between the Silk Road Economic Belt and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Within the framework of the communiqué, China and the EEU, along with its member countries, are in talks for an agreement over economic and trade cooperation.

 

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in May this year attracted 12 Eurasian countries to take part in. Heads of state from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan were among the attendees to show support.

 

TRADE EXCHANGE

China has now become a major trading partner for the 12 Eurasian countries. In the eight months starting from January, the trade volume between China and the countries reached US$84 billion, up 40 percent from last year.

 

Russia has become China's largest source of imports for cruel oil and electricity, and fifth largest for coal products. In August, Russia exported 104 million barrels of cruel oil to China daily.

 

As an important part of the region, Central Asia exported over 180 billion cubic meters of natural gas to China, benefiting 500 million Chinese residents including the ones in Hong Kong.

 

Food products from Central Asia, Russia, and Georgia, including fruit, vegetables, seafood and wine, gained increasing favor from Chinese customers.

 

INVESTMENT GROWTH

China has remained one of the most important investors in Russia and Central Asian countries.

 

Its investment in Russia increased from US$32 billion in 2013 to US$45 billion in 2017.

 

In Tajikistan, a China-invested cement plant helped the country shift from a net importer to a net exporter of the commodity; a breeding project significantly raised production of wheat and cotton; cotton plantations, ginneries and spinning mills offered employment for thousands of workers and farmers.

 

MAJOR PROJECTS

China and Russia are collaborating in nuclear, civil aviation and aerospace with a host of major projects undergoing steady progress.

 

The two countries founded a commercial airplane company to develop long-haul, wide-bodied airliners. Other important areas the two sides aim to cooperate on include rocket engines, electronic components of aerospace products, earth observation, moon exploration, deep space exploration and satellite-aided navigation.

 

The China-Belarus Industrial Park, exalted as the Pearl of the Silk Road Economic Belt by President Xi, is a modern high-tech industrial park built on what used to be a desolate wilderness. To expedite the construction of the park, China offered a combination of financing tools including gratuitous aid. It has within a few years attracted international companies to settle.

 

SYSTEM REFORMS

To ensure sound and sustainable growth, system reforms have been undertaken and negotiations for free trade and other economic and trade partnerships have realized results.

 

China signed a free trade agreement with Georgia in May, taking its first step in mapping out a free trade network in Eurasia. And it plans to initiate a free trade negotiation with Moldova after the conclusion of a feasibility study.

 

The negotiation for economic and trade cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union concluded, which laid the groundwork for higher level dialogues, with the two sides both wishing to cut barriers to facilitate trade.

 

The Prime Ministers' Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization approved a list of measures for boosting cooperation for 2017 to 2021, which will offer guidance for regional economic cooperation for the coming years.

 

China and Russia have deepened strategic cooperation in a bid to make a greater contribution to global governance reform, working together within the frameworks of various multilateral organizations such as Group of 20, BRICS block, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the World Trade Organization.

 

CONNECTIVITY FOR PROSPERITY

A highway project connecting western China and Western Europe is under construction. When it is fully functional, the road transportation route between China and Europe will be shortened by 2,000 kilometers.

 

The China-Kazakhstan logistics park in Lianyungang, Jiangsu has been put into use with the first phase of construction completed and a second phase of construction underway. The project serves as an important link in the multimodal transport system that connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. It also transforms the landlocked Kazakhstan into a gateway for transit trade on the Eurasian Continent.

 

Passing through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, high-speed trains travel from Yiwu, Zhejiang to Tehran, Iran within 14 days, significantly improving international movement of goods across the region.

 

China and Uzbekistan built Central Asia's first railway tunnel – the Kamchik Tunnel, as part of the Angren-Pap railway route, which provides an alternative transport option to the Kamchik Pass and eases the travel between Ferghana Valley and the rest of Uzbekistan.

 

China and Russia are collaborating on railway bridge and road bridge projects across their boundary Heilongjiang River.

 

Source: Belt and Road Portal