TASHKENT, March 31 (Xinhua) -- China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) creates tremendous opportunities for cooperation, which should be seized in a timely and productive manner, an Uzbek expert has said.
The BRI has a global scale and is of crucial importance in the further development of international relations, Alisher Matyakubov, vice rector of Uzbekistan's University of Journalism and Mass Communications, told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.
"China seeks to expand the boundaries of the Belt and Road Initiative through the maximum possible number of projects implemented in partner countries, deliberately giving them the initiative of comprehending and developing investment proposals by themselves," Matyakubov said.
Chinese enterprises' non-financial investments in 56 countries along the Belt and Road routes amounted to 15.64 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, up 8.9 percent year on year and accounting for 13 percent of the total outbound investment during the period, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.
"Uzbekistan is very positive and was one of the first to support this initiative," the expert said, adding that the University of Journalism and Mass Communications is actively involved in the process.
"We have established mutually beneficial cooperation with Renmin University of China and Communication University of China," he said, adding that they have created a mechanism for academic exchanges with these universities and are compiling textbooks together.
Matyakubov said he supports the idea of creating a think tank, or center, within the framework of the BRI.
"Currently there are various -- alarming, skeptical and optimistic -- opinions about the initiative. This center would summarize these opinions, (and) develop scientific foundations of strategic directions in the implementation of the global Belt and Road project."
China will host the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation next month in Beijing, and it "will play a very important role and serve as a kind of platform for improving and developing ties between the countries," Matyakubov said.
"I think that there are no serious problems or obstacles in further developing the relationship in this direction."
Trade volume between China and Uzbekistan increased 53.6 percent year on year to 1.18 billion dollars in the first two months of 2019, accounting for 18.4 percent of Uzbekistan's foreign trade, official figures showed.
Uzbekistan has always been and will always be a friendly and reliable partner of China -- this is for certain, Matyakubov said.
"I have witnessed so many bright historical moments of the manifestation of the friendship between Uzbekistan and China," he said, adding that the most memorable one was the opening of the Confucius Institute at the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages in 2014.
"We know that the main goal of the institute is to teach Chinese language. But the institute also contributes to a better understanding of Chinese culture, customs and traditions, and to friendly relations between our states and peoples," the expert said.