China and Uzbekistan are seeking further development of friendly and cooperative relations 17 years after the two countries established diplomatic ties.
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang is scheduled to visit Uzbekistan on Saturday, the third leg of his three-nation tour which includes Finland and Turkmenistan.
Relations between China and Uzbekistan improved in 1990s after the two countries established diplomatic ties in January 1992.
In June 2001, Uzbekistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which comprises China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. In June 2004, the SCO launched a regional anti-terror structure in Uzbekistan's capital Tashkent.
Since then, China and Uzbekistan have maintained active and effective cooperation within the SCO framework and achieved further development of bilateral ties.
In May 2005, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Uzbek President Islam Karimov signed a treaty on friendly and cooperative partnership in Beijing, signaling new determination on both sides to further consolidate their traditional friendship and cooperation.
According to statistics released by the General Administration of Customs of China, the total volume of bilateral trade between China and Uzbekistan in 2008 (from January to November) was 1.498 billion U.S. dollars, up 48.9 percent over the previous year.
In October 2008, the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed a cooperation deal with the Uzbekistan State Holding Oil and Gas Company, Uzbekndftegaz, on the joint exploration of the Mingulak oil field in Uzbekistan. The recoverable reserves in the field totals more than 30 million tonnes.
In June this year, an electrification project of the Tukumachi-Angren Railway in Uzbekistan was formally launched. It is the first railway reconstruction project China will develop in central Asia.
Also in June this year, China officially started work on its section of a dual 1,801 kilometer-long central Asian natural gas pipeline, which stretches from the border of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in the west, through central Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan, and enters China at Horgos Port in Xinjiang. Initially one pipeline is expected to become operational by the end of this year and the other in 2010.
On June 15, Karimov said at a meeting with President Hu in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg that Uzbekistan appreciated its relationship with China, which features friendship, mutual trust and cooperation.
Uzbekistan also appreciated China's continued aid over a long period of time, especially the sincere help and support provided at times of hardship, Karimov said.
(Xinhua News Agency June 26, 2009)