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China's Role in Peace and Prosperity of Central Asia Praised

China's active participation in the regional economic cooperation of central Asia will greatly improve the region's standard of living and boost peace, stability and prosperity in the region, a number of Asian ambassadors and diplomatic envoys said in Beijing Monday.

"China is a large country that is developing very rapidly. If it continues to enhance economic and trade cooperation and exchanges with neighboring countries, it will not only help its neighbors lead a better life, but also help countries such as Afghanistan realize peace and stability," Afghan Ambassador to China Qiamuddin Rai Barlas told a forum on the development strategy for the central and south Asian economic zone.

"Terrorism, separatism and extremism" are three biggest threats to Afghanistan and other central Asian countries, Qiamuddin said. Terrorists, he acknowledged, "will find no place to hide if these countries strengthen regional economic cooperation to improve people's living standards."

He said China can play a major role in regional economic cooperation of central Asia. "It is not only beneficial to other central Asian countries but also to China itself, especially to the stability and development of China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region."

Qiamuddin said Xinjiang's Kashi, a historic place on the ancient Silk Road linking China and central Asian countries, can also play a very crucial role in economic, trade and cultural relations between China and neighboring countries.

"Kashi has all the possibilities for economic growth that will make Kashi a center of economy and trade between China and its neighbors," he noted.

While praising the China-Tajikistan port that was just opened in earlier this year, Tajikistan Ambassador Abdoullaev Bokhadyr voiced his worries about terrorism that may impair regional economic cooperation.

He said, however, that further enhancement of regional economic cooperation is the most efficient way to combat terrorism.

"Tajikistan is ready to cooperate with China to deepen the regional cooperation," he said.

Sanjay Bhattacharyya, Indian deputy chief of mission to China, said the objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are laudable and they have achieved great cooperation not only on political and security issues, but also in promoting economic and trade relations.

"India has been following closely the developments in the SCO," Bhattacharyya told Xinhua. "We should also look at the developments in Xinjiang as related to the overall prosperity of the region, in central Asia and also in south Asia," he said.

According to Jiang Zuyang, of the Department of External Security Affairs with the Chinese Foreign Ministry, China has carried out increasing cooperation with central and south Asian countries over recent years thanks to the SCO.

"Poverty and backwardness are blamed as one of the root causes for engendering terrorism. Therefore, the SCO sets increased regional cooperation and regional stability as two of its main goals," he said.

The SCO, a regional cooperation body founded in June 2001, includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

(Xinhua News Agency November 16, 2004)

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