|Friendship Linking the Great Wall and the Caspian Sea- In commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Azerbaijan|
|By Li Zhaoxing, Minister of Foreign Affairs|
Fifteen years ago, on 2 April 1992, government representatives of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Azerbaijan signed in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Azerbaijan at the ambassadorial level, bringing China-Azerbaijan friendly exchanges into a new period of growth.
Azerbaijan has a long history, abundant resources and beautiful scenery. Its people are hardworking and kind-hearted. The ancient Silk Road served as ties linking the Chinese and the Azerbaijan nations. Fine silk and celadon pieces from China were unearthed on the sites of post houses in Azerbaijan along the Silk Road, while carpets and rock salt unique to Azerbaijan were exported to China. Over the past centuries, China and Azerbaijan have conducted commodity trade, people-to-people exchange, and exchanges in the fields of pharmaceuticals and construction and have, in so doing, enhanced mutual understanding and forged a profound traditional friendship. And the two peoples have supported and learned from each other and made great efforts to cement the traditional friendship.
The past 15 years has witnessed smooth growth of bilateral relations. Leaders of the two countries have maintained frequent exchange of high-level visits, thus enhancing political exchanges between the two sides. President Ilham Aliyev paid a successful visit to China in March 2005. The Joint Statement between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Azerbaijan signed by President Hu Jintao and President Aliyev has laid a solid foundation for the sustained growth of China-Azerbaijan relations and provided guidelines for the development of bilateral relations. Competent departments of the two countries are now making joint efforts to implement in real earnest the cooperation documents signed during the visit. We will never forget the efforts made by late President Geidar Aliyev in advancing China-Azerbaijan relations. This relationship will continue to move forward along the course charted by leaders of the two countries.
The economic and trade cooperation between China and Azerbaijan is growing rapidly. The bilateral trade volume has risen substantially to hit 368 million US dollars in 2006, a year-on-year increase of 42.9%. Cooperation in the energy field is expanding, boosting overall bilateral economic cooperation. The two countries have also carried out mutually beneficial cooperation in such fields as communication, agriculture and infrastructure where they can complement each other. Besides, they have also exchanged visits of performing troupes, held cultural exhibitions in each other's country and sent students to each other's universities. Azerbaijan has become a tourist destination for Chinese citizens. These friendly exchanges have enhanced mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples.
The Chinese Government respects the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and understands the path of development independently chosen by the government and people of Azerbaijan based on their own conditions and the domestic and foreign policies they adhere to. It will continue to provide help and support within its ability to Azerbaijan in its economic and social development.
The government of Azerbaijan explicitly adheres to the one China policy and maintains that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. China appreciates Azerbaijan's strong support on such major issues as Taiwan, Tibet and the combat on "East Turkistan" terrorist forces.
We are happy to see Azerbaijan's fast economic growth, social stability, higher living standards and growing influence on regional and international affairs in recent years. The Chinese people sincerely hope that the friendly people of Azerbaijan will make greater achievements in national development.
As Azerbaijan's good friend and partner, China will continue to maintain the exchange of high-level visits with Azerbaijan and conduct political dialogue and consultation to enhance bilateral political relations, and strengthen cooperation in such fields as economy and trade, energy, agriculture, transportation, communication and infrastructure on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and common development. We encourage and support Chinese businesses to make more investment in Azerbaijan, support companies of the two countries in expanding oil and gas cooperation, and welcome more Azerbaijan companies to establish their presence in China. We will also take flexible measures to facilitate diverse forms of cultural, educational, scientific and technological, sports and tourist exchanges as well as exchanges at the local level. We are convinced that increased friendly exchanges and deeper mutual understanding between the two peoples will further strengthen the foundation of China-Azerbaijan relations.
Spring augurs well for the future in both the Chinese and Azerbaijan cultures. In this balmy season of spring, let us take the opportunity of the 15th anniversary of China-Azerbaijan diplomatic relations and work together to bring about more benefits for the two peoples and usher in a better future in China-Azerbaijan relations.