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China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan sign deal for new railway

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June 20, 2024 (MLN): China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan will construct a new railway starting in China Kashgar and traversing Torugart, Kosh-Dobo, and Kazarman in Kyrgyzstan, culminating in Andijan in eastern Uzbekistan, to enhance trade and economic cooperation, as APP reported. 

A trilateral intergovernmental agreement on the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway project was signed at a ceremony in Beijing last week. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov, and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev hailed the event as a sign of unity and shared progress. 

The governments of China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan agreed to embark on constructing the new railway at a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit held in the Uzbek city of Samarkand in September 2022. The project feasibility study was updated following the completion of field surveys by Chinese engineers in December last year.

“All three countries have diligently prepared for the construction, which is expected to commence later this year,” China Daily reported. 

The new railway, a beacon of hope and optimism, will start in China’s Kashgar and traverse Torugart, Kosh-Dobo, and Kazarman in Kyrgyzstan, culminating in Andijan in eastern Uzbekistan. 

It is estimated that the railway will shorten the route between China and Europe by about 900 kilometers and reduce freight transit time by eight days. 

This transformative railway, with its potential to enhance trade and economic cooperation between the countries along its path, holds the promise of a brighter future and instils optimism due to the potential economic benefits it will bring. 

According to an earlier announcement, the planned 523 km railway will be constructed through a joint venture involving three countries. The estimated total cost of the project is $8 billion, with $4.7 billion allocated for the Kyrgyz part. 

In a testament to the project’s significance, Japarov emphasized that this project is crucial for Kyrgyzstan’s global connectivity, allowing his landlocked country to connect with the rest of the world. 

The project was first proposed in the 1990s, and the three sides signed a memorandum of understanding on constructing the railway in 1997. Some experts believe political and geopolitical problems have hindered the project’s development. 

The rapidly growing rail traffic volume shows that developing an additional rail transport route between China and Europe, this time through Central Asia, the Caspian Sea, and the South Caucasus, will be economically feasible. 

The construction of this railway line will create the shortest land route between the two economic centres of the Eurasian continent along the Middle Corridor. 

At the same time, it will establish direct rail connections between China and Central Asia, the South Caucasus, Iran, Turkiye, and Europe, transforming Central Asia from a landlocked to a land-connected area. 

The new railway lines will intersect in Central Asia with planned and under-construction railway lines in the north-south direction from Russia and Central Asia through Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, and Iran to the deep-water ports of the Indian Ocean. 

President of Uzbekistan Mirziyoyev specifically highlighted this potential during the signing ceremony on June 6 by saying that the railway will become the shortest land channel between China and the Central Asian countries and open the big markets of the South Asian and Middle Eastern countries. 

If this plan comes to fruition, the intersection of the East-West and North-South railway routes in Central Asia could transform the region into a major transport hub for the entire Eurasian continent. If this happens, the Great Silk Road revival could become a reality. 

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Posted on: 2024-06-20T16:49:09+05:00