ASHGABAT — China and Turkmenistan are set to further expand practical cooperation as Vice-premier Zhang Gaoli arrived here on Aug 26 to give a fresh boost to bilateral relations.
During his stay, Zhang will meet with President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, and co-chair with Deputy Prime Minister Baymyrat Hojamuhammedov the third meeting of the Chinese-Turkmen cooperation committee.
The two sides are expected to discuss a wide range of issues, including trade, energy, infrastructure and development of the Silk Road Economic Belt, an initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Zhang’s trip to the Central Asian country is yet another high-level contact between China and Turkmenistan after the presidents of the two countries exchanged visits in less than one year.
During Xi’s visit to Turkmenistan in September last year, he and Berdymukhamedov jointly put into production a natural gas field that had been developed by a Chinese oil company.
When Berdymukhamedov visited China in May, the two countries signed cooperation documents on a wide range of areas.
Over recent years, China has been the top trading partner of Turkmenistan, while the latter is a major source of China’s natural gas imports.
Chinese Ambassador to Turkmenistan Xiao Qinghua said in an interview with local media that bilateral cooperation has been growing in leaps and frogs over the past few years.
Two-way trade topped 10 billion U.S. dollars last year, compared to the 4.5 million dollars when the two countries established official relations in 1992.
China, Xiao added, is ready to further expand bilateral economic cooperation into new areas, including oil and natural gas processing, energy equipment manufacturing, agriculture and animal husbandry, telecommunications, high technology and transport.
Frequent high-level contact and fruitful cooperation have helped put bilateral relations on a fast track. In 2013 China became the first country to establish a strategic partnership with Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan is the first leg of Zhang’s three-nation tour, which will also take him to the Czech Republic and Russia.