Tajikistan signed a wide-reaching strategic partnership agreement with China on May 20, including deals covering cooperation in security, the wider economy, and joint development of energy and mineral resources.
Seven agreements in total were signed during Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon's visit to Beijing on May 20. After the meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the two countries need to "consolidate cooperation, safeguard common interests and address common challenges", Xinhua reports.
The strategic partnership will cement cooperation in numerous areas, Xi added. In return, Rakhmon said that Dushanbe is willing to offer "firm support" to China on key issues.
The two countries plan to jointly explore deposits of oil, gas and minerals, and may also work together on building power infrastructure including wind and solar energy generation. They will also speed up work on cross-border road and rail projects, and joint schemes in the aviation sector. Plans are also in place to improve financial support to boost mutual trade, and to help Chinese businesses invest into Tajikistan and settle transactions in their own currency.
China will provide a CNY200m ($32.2m) grant to Tajikistan, under an inter-governmental agreement on economic and technical cooperation. A loan agreement between Tajikistan's Amonatbonk and the China Development Bank was also signed, according to a statement on Tajikistan's presidential website
China is already one of the main players in the Tajik economy, with Chinese companies rebuilding several of the main highways across the country, and heavy Chinese investments into the mining and construction sectors.
The new push from Beijing is part of its race with Russia for influence in Central Asia. Tajikistan has recently seen tension arising in its relations with Moscow, with Dushanbe delaying the ratification of an agreement extending Russia's military presence in Tajikistan. Russia has retaliated by threats to restrict the entry of Tajik economic migrants, with remittances from Russia one of the main sources of Tajikistan's GDP.
However, with the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan raising fears about instability in the region, Dushanbe is expected to continue to rely primarily on Russia.
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