China to boost air connections with Central Asia as part of ‘Air Silk Road’
Beijing, May 17 (EFE).- China, whose ties with Central Asia have peaked in recent times, has announced that it would strengthen and increase air connections with countries in the region to boost communication and trade exchanges.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Tuesday evening that the central city of Xi’an would begin a weekly flight to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.
This would mean that Xi’an, the starting point of the ancient Silk Route, would now be connected by air with all the Central Asian nations: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The announcement comes after last week another weekly flight was inaugurated between Xi’an and Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat, with both the routes being operated by the China Southern Airlines.
Currently, around a dozen airlines operate flights between China and Central Asian countries.
CAAC vice-president Sun Wenshang told state media outlet Global Times that the body and Central Asia countries have been discussing and preparing to sign a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop an “Air Silk Road.”
“China will continuously strengthen communication and cooperation with the civil aviation authorities of the five Central Asian countries to improve the level of open air rights,” Sun said.
The announcement comes at a time when leaders of the five countries and the Chinese leadership are set to take part in the first China-Central Asia summit in Xi’an later this week.
This is the first meeting of its kind since diplomatic ties were established between Beijing and the Central Asian nations.
Experts told Global Times that one of the issues on the agenda would be strengthening ties within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing’s ambitious global project that aims to establish a global trade network and establish its influence worldwide. EFE