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China emphasizes cotton cooperation with BRI Central Asian nations

China has planned to boost cooperation in the cotton industry with nations participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) to reduce dependence on imports from the United States and Australia, according to Li Fuguang, Head of the Institute of Cotton Research under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Cotton-production-Central-Asia-2021
Figure: China has planned to boost cooperation in the cotton industry with nations participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) to reduce dependence on imports.

Central Asia’s potential in cotton production would help meet China’s 2 million metric tons of import demand based on garment demand and cotton production.

“Taking advantage of Central Asian complementary countries would be conducive to a sharp response to the Sino-US trade conflict and would in the meantime encourage the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative,” Li Fuguang told to state media in China.

At the same time, cotton production in Central Asia is about 2 million hectares. The environment is similar to that of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which accounts for 84.9 percent of China’s cotton production.

According to Li Xinjiang, production is expected to increase by at least 5 percent if the technology of making cotton is applied in Central Asian countries. And the region will gain rapid development in production.

Demonstration technology parks have been established in Uzbekistan since 2018 to develop Chinese cotton-producing technology. At the same time, demand for irrigation water has dropped by two-thirds and yields have doubled, Lee said.

China would focus on introducing cotton cultivation technology in Uzbekistan over the next five years and pushing it forward in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It will enhance systems and further modernize the sector through innovation in core technologies.

According to the academy, the country plans to strengthen the collection and utilization of dilapidated cotton resources, explore the best gene sources, and create great resources with high yields, good quality and wide adaptability.

At the same time, the non-profit China Cotton Industry Alliance, led by the organization, will play a key role in improving the quality of cotton and integrating it into the entire industrial chain.

Xinjiang issued a statement in late March this year to oppose any scandal involving Xinjiang cotton. It seeks to create a high-quality cotton industry discipline and increase the international recognition of the domestic cotton brand.

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