Tajik capital Dushanbe embraces the best time of the year every summer when fruits turn ripe under the bright sunshine.
The city is currently experiencing a facelift as the China-Tajikistan practical cooperation reaps increasingly remarkable results, which has further improved the livelihood of the local people.
I used to be stationed in Central Asia. When I came to Dushanbe for the first time four years ago, I was always greeted by the hospitable locals with “Nihao”- a way to say hello in Chinese, and they always asked to take photos with me. Later I found out that this was a special courtesy for the Chinese people.
As a mountainous country, Tajikistan suffered slow development of infrastructure and has been further burdened by the civil war that happened at the beginning of the independence. When the country regained peace, it was facing huge tasks of development, and the Tajik people had to leave their country for work in overseas destinations.
It was the arrival of the Chinese that changed the situation. The Chinese enterprises paved roads and built bridges, constantly improving local infrastructure and facilitating logistics. They also established factories and industrial parks, creating massive jobs that enabled those who worked overseas to secure a job at home, which resulted in family reunions of many.
A textile agricultural industry park built by China’s Zhongtai Group is now the largest textile company in Central Asia, and also the largest exporter in Tajikistan in terms of foreign currency earnings. The jobs it created have offered opportunities for local women to make money, largely improving their status at home.
The Vahdat-Yavan railway tunnel constructed by China Railway 19 Bureau Group Co., Ltd. has connected the previously separated railways in southern and northern Tajikistan. On the day the tunnel was holed through, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon visited the construction site and delivered a passionate speech. He had also boarded the train for a trip in the tunnel.
A young Tajik watching the opening ceremony said that it was his first time to see a train running by his hometown. “Thank you, my Chinese friends! You made it easier for us to go out of the mountain,” he said.
China’s assistance to Tajikistan is appreciated by local people. The image of China-assisted National Library of Tajikistan is printed on the banknotes of the country, and the global celebration activity of “Happy Chinese New Year” and Chinese contest “Chinese Bridge” are becoming well-known brands of Chinese culture as China is getting more and more popular among the Tajiks.
A growing number of young Tajik people are becoming fans of the Chinese culture and hoping to study in China. According to a poll, China is considered one of the most friendly countries in the eyes of the Tajiks.
What’s behind the high-level development of China-Tajikistan relations is the close cooperation between the two governments. Tajikistan was the first to sign a cooperation MOU with China on the Silk Road Economic Belt, and a dedicated committee has since been established. The two sides are now deepening the alignment between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Tajikistan’s National Development Strategy 2030.
Many Tajik experts believe that the top-level design and strategic deployment made by the two heads of state have laid a solid foundation for the long-term and stable development of China-Tajik ties.
When Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first state visit to Tajikistan five years ago, he was treated by President Rahmon with a family banquet. The banquet was joined by three generations of President Rahmon’s family as President Xi was considered the most honorable guest. When President Rahmon visited China in 2017, the two countries agreed to lift bilateral ties to comprehensive strategic partnership.
We have every reason to believe that President Xi’s second trip to Tajikistan in five years will inject new impetus to the future development of bilateral ties.
On the way to pursue a better life, the two countries will join and support each other and bring more benefits to the people of the two countries, passing on the traditional friendship that has lasted for over a thousand year from generation to generation.