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China and Uzbekistan Relations Traced Back to Thousands of Years
   2016-06-21 19:54:50    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Li Chenxi

Undated photo shows the local people of Bukhara, Uzbekistan. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]

As part of his visit to Uzbekistan, Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to tour the city of Bukhara, an important stop on the ancient Silk Road.

Reminders of China's historical contact with central Asia can still be seen in Bukhara.

CRI's Victor Ning has more.


Situated in southwestern Uzbekistan, Bukhara has been inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The organization describes Bukhara as the "most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia."

Human activities in the region can be traced back some 4-thousand years.

However, Bukhara native and historian Robert Almeev says its Chinese historical records provide crucial details to understanding the region's development.

" This region was not named Bukhara until 5th Century BC. Bukhara refers to not just the city, but also the entire region. After the Arab conquest, large amounts of historical records were destroyed. So to understand this region's history, we have largely relied on ancient Chinese texts, such as those from China's Han, Tang and Wei Dynasties. These records have played an integral role in helping us to understand the history of this region, and even that of our country. "

In the 2nd century BC, the Han Dynasty in China dispatched envoy Zhang Qian on a westward journey, opening a gateway to China's interactions with central Asia and Europe.

While Zhang is credited by many as the pioneer of the ancient Silk Road, Almeev says a Persian ethnic group living in the Bukhara region helped to facilitate trade along the ancient route.
"The Sogdians had such a tradition ¨C if a boy was born, the adults would put a coin in his hand, and smear some honey on his tongue. They believed this would help him to say the right words and be financial successful. They spoke the ancient Aramaic language, which was also used in many parts of Europe at the time. So the Sogdian businessmen helped to connect China and the Mediterranean region. "

Ancient Chinese goods such as porcelain, tea, and silk were transported to Bukhara, and then eventually made their way into Europe.

Many of the items are now on exhibit in local museums.

Deputy Director of the Bukhara State Architectural and Art Museum-Preserve, Karim Rustamov, says early Chinese financiers even established a currency exchange in Bukhara.

"In the middle of the 18th century, a Chinese backed bank was established here, providing financial services to business people from different nations. The businessmen could exchange their own currencies into the Chinese currency."

Numerous artifacts pointing to the historical trade ties between China and Uzbekistan are still around today.

And in today's Bukhara, Chinese and Uzbek investors are still working together, including a number of silk factories which still export their products into the European markets.

Zhao Yunming is an official with one of those silk factories.

He says the current Chinese policies to develop trade with central Asia are once again helping to boost the region's economy.

"China's Belt and Road initiative has had a great impact on local businesses. Many businessmen here are hoping to catch this opportunity, they believe there is a great future in doing business with Chinese partners. "

Thousands of jobs have been created locally in Uzbekistan by Chinese investments.

Many expect Xi Jinping's visit to Uzbekistan is only going to increase opportunities, particularly in the areas of trade and tourism.

For CRI, I'm Victor Ning.

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