ALMATY, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) — The creation of an economic belt stretching along the ancient Silk Road coincides with Kazakhstan’s foreign policy, says a Kazakh expert on international issues.
Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the idea during his recent visit to Central Asia, eyeing the the cultural revival of the Silk Road, which historically links China with Central Asia and Europe, as a way of developing political and economic ties.
Elnara Baynazarova told Xinhua that her country’s foreign policy adheres to the concept of Kazakhstan being at the heart of Eurasia, the state connecting Western and Eastern values, and a bridge for communication between the two civilizations.
Kazakhstan has also led initiatives to create international transport corridors and economic projects, she said.
Expressing her belief that the new economic belt could be a success, Baynazarova pointed out that the dividends for Kazakhstan from the realization of the Chinese leader’s idea are obvious.
It will first boost the development of the country’s small towns and peripheral regions that will stand at the junctions of the main transport routes, she said, adding that it may help build more economic infrastructure in Kazakhstan’s remote areas and create new jobs.
Moreover, the construction of the highway linking Western China and Western Europe could provide additional funds to Kazakhstan’s state budget by imposing special fares for travel, registration of passengers and freight cargo, she said.
The realization of the idea would also be of cultural benefit, said Baynazarova, as Xi has said that a large number of grants will be allocated to enhance the cultural and educational exchanges for students and scholars in Central Asia, and such interactions may boost the region’s understanding of China.
However, she warned that obstacles still exist, as some may regard the project as an indicator of the rise of China in the region, while there will also be challenges ensuring the timely operation of the transport web, and its repair and restoration.