By Aynur Karimova
Azerbaijan is interested in expanding cooperation with China in all fields.
President Ilham Aliyev, who embarked on a state visit to China on December 8, made the remark at a meeting with Governor of Shaanxi Province Lou Qinjian on December 9.
The head of the state noted that he is happy to start his state visit to China from Shaanxi Province, adding there are many reasons for this.
President Aliyev expressed confidence that this visit would create opportunities for developing the bilateral ties between the two countries and familiarizing Azerbaijan with Shaanxi-made products.
Lou Qinjian, in turn, noted that the Shaanxi Province is ready to cooperate with Azerbaijan in all fields.
He voiced confidence that President Aliyev's visit to Xian would contribute to the strengthening of the friendly relations between Azerbaijan and Shaanxi Province and the development of cooperation in the energy and humanitarian spheres.
Later, President Aliyev arrived in Beijing from the city of Xian, where he met with Zhang Dejiang, the Chairman of the National People's Congress of China.
Zhang Dejiang said China pays special attention to strengthening friendly ties with Azerbaijan. "Azerbaijan is China's important partner in South Caucasus."
Touching upon the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Zhang Dejiang said China supports the settlement of the conflict on the basis of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. He also thanked Azerbaijan for supporting China in the One-China policy.
President Aliyev, in turn, said that Azerbaijan and China are successfully cooperating in the political and economic fields. He said that Azerbaijan supports China's initiative to revive the historic Silk Road and to create an economic zone over it, and added that Azerbaijan could become an important transit participant of this road.
President Aliyev thanked China for supporting Azerbaijan's fair position in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, reiterating his country's support to China's One-China policy. Besides, the two countries show the same position towards combating international terrorism and aggressive separatism, he added.
The sides also exchanged views on interparliamentary relations, cooperation in the regional, humanitarian, information and communication technologies, agriculture, tourism and other fields.
China is interested in strengthening cooperation with Azerbaijan in industrial capacity and infrastructure while helping Chinese enterprises invest in the West Asian country.
This was stated by Premier Li Keqiang at a meeting with President Aliyev on December 10.
“China is willing to connect development strategies with Azerbaijan and tap cooperation potential in economy, trade and energy,” Premier Li said.
The Premier also called for enhanced people-to-people exchanges between the countries and asked Azerbaijan to provide more convenience for Chinese passport holders.
Aliyev said his country welcomes Chinese enterprises to invest in infrastructure, industrial parks and energy, and seeks to boost bilateral cooperation in the aerospace industry and information technology.
“Azerbaijan, with geographic advantages, will also support the development of transit transportation together with China,” he said.
On December 10, President Aliyev was officially welcomed in Chinese capital Beijing where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in an expanded format.
Following this meeting, the two countries signed a package of bilateral documents.
President Aliyev and Xi Jinping signed a Joint Declaration on the further development and deepening of friendship relations and partnership.
Other documents include a Memorandum of Understanding on joint promotion of establishment of Silk Road economic belt, an agreement on extradition of prisoners, an agreement on cooperation in phytosanitary, an agreement on civil air traffic, a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the education field in 2016-2019, a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in transport sector, a Memorandum of Understanding on promotion of bilateral economic cooperation, a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the alternative energy sector, and an agreement on cooperation in the railway transport sector.
As part of the visit, President Aliyev viewed Terracotta Army Museum (underground sculptures army), Shaanxi Automobile Group in the city of Xian, as well as the Capital Museum and Huawei Exhibition Center in Beijing.
Relations between Azerbaijan and China have a long history. Because of its advantageous geographical situation Azerbaijan was a natural crossing point on the way from East to West and North to South and was one of the main trade, transport and cultural centers on the Great Silk Road.
China recognized the independence of Azerbaijan in 1991. The diplomatic relations between the two countries were established a year later. The Embassy of China to Azerbaijan was opened in 1992, while Azerbaijan’s Embassy to China was opened in 1993. The two countries permanently support each other on international organizations.
China is a huge opportunity and a priority market for Azerbaijan. More than 50 agreements were signed between the two countries.
The trade turnover between China and Azerbaijan amounted to $288.4 million in the first six months of 2015, some $259.3 million of which were accounted for Azerbaijan's import operations.
Aynur Karimova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Aynur_Karimova
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