China has attached importance to cultural exchanges with countries in Central Asia. The eagerness on the part of the two sides to explore cultural similarities has been one of the highlights of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s current two-nation Central Asian tour.

“I wish these books could serve as a bridge connecting the two peoples of China and Turkmenistan,” Mr. Hu said here on Sunday, when donating books to the National Library of Turkmenistan.

The Chinese president, who arrived here on Sunday for a two—day working visit, said he wanted to express the Chinese people’s friendly feelings toward the people of Turkmenistan by donating these books, which included the Encyclopaedia of China, the Library of Chinese Classics and Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion.

A total of 2,054 books, with subjects ranging from Chinese history, philosophy, literature to Chinese medicine, were carefully chosen to cater to the needs of students of the Chinese language at an international language school in Turkmenistan.

The books will be handed over by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, to the National Library.

“I believe these books will help people in Turkmenistan understand China better,” he said.

During his talks with Mr. Berdymukhamedov, Mr. Hu announced the decision to double the number of annual scholarships offered by the Chinese government to Turkmen students studying in China from the current 45 to 90.

Mr. Hu also expressed China’s readiness to provide assistance to Turkmenistan on Chinese language learning.

During his visit to Kazakhstan on Saturday, Mr. Hu and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev, watched a cultural performance of music and dances staged by students of the Confucius Institute in Kazakhstan’s Eurasia University.

After the performance, Mr. Hu and Mr. Nazarbayev had chats with the students and teachers of the Confucius Institute.

“Where do the students of the Confucius Institute come from? And what activities have been carried out at the institute?” Mr. Hu asked.

Mr. Nazarbayev showed great interest in learning the Chinese language, when he asked whether he himself could become a student of the Confucius Institute.

“President Nazarbayev said he is interested in learning Chinese. He set an excellent example for the students who are learning the language,” said a teacher.

China is ready to expand cooperation with Kazakhstan in such areas as science, technology, education, culture, sports and tourism. Hu also announced a decision to increase from 100 to 200 the number of Kazakh students studying in China on Chinese government scholarships every year.

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