Setting sail for a new journey and opening a new chapter of cooperation
Updated 20:16, 18-May-2023
Zhang Xiao
Setting sail for a new journey and opening a new chapter of cooperation

Setting sail for a new journey and opening a new chapter of cooperation.mp3


Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for decision makers to share their insights on events shaping today's world. Zhang Xiao is the Chinese Ambassador to Kazakhstan. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The China-Central Asia Summit will be held on May 18 and 19 in Xian, Shaanxi Province. This occasion presents a new important historical opportunity for the development of relations and cooperation in various fields between China and five Central Asian countries. China and Central Asian countries form a closely-linked community with a shared future. In particular, China and Kazakhstan stand as good neighbors, good friends, good partners and good brothers bound together by mountains and rivers.

Over the 31 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, the friendly relations between China and Kazakhstan have withstood the volatile tides of international affairs, exhibiting a trajectory of steady and healthy development. This relationship has reached the unprecedented pinnacle of a permanent comprehensive strategic partnership, setting a benchmark for friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between neighboring countries.

Firstly, the strategic guidance offered by the heads of state delineates the blueprint for the development of China-Kazakhstan relations in the new era. The leaders of both nations have established a solid working relationship and personal friendship, steering the bilateral ties with firm hands and laying a robust political foundation for the development of the bilateral relations. This guidance has illuminated a bright path leading to the future.

In February 2022, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev paid a visit to China and attended the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. In September 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping chose to visit Kazakhstan on his first overseas trip since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a move that underscored the unique depth and distinction of China-Kazakhstan relations.

During the visit, the two heads of state signed and issued the Joint Statement Between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Kazakhstan on the 30th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, and announced that China and Kazakhstan would work for the goal and vision of building a community with a shared future defined by lasting friendship, a high degree of mutual trust and sharing both prosperity and adversity, thus ushering in another golden 30 years of China-Kazakhstan relation.

Secondly, the strong political mutual trust between the two countries forms an unshakeable foundation for the further development of China-Kazakhstan relations. Both countries extend unwavering support on issues involving each other's core interests; supporting each other in safeguarding sovereignty, security and development interests; and standing united against foreign interference in their internal affairs. China staunchly supports Kazakhstan's self-chosen development path and President Tokayev's initiatives to build a "New Kazakhstan." Meanwhile, Kazakhstan firmly supports the one-China principle and supports China's position on matters related to Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Following Kazakhstan's "January Incident" in 2022, President Xi Jinping was quick to send a verbal message to President Tokayev, expressing solid support for Kazakhstan's efforts to stop the chaos and restore stability. In August 2022, when former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, Kazakhstan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs swiftly voiced its strong support for China.

The construction site of the second phase of a China-invested new North-South highway project in Kazarman of Jalalabad Region, Kyrgyzstan, October 27, 2020. /Xinhua
The construction site of the second phase of a China-invested new North-South highway project in Kazarman of Jalalabad Region, Kyrgyzstan, October 27, 2020. /Xinhua

The construction site of the second phase of a China-invested new North-South highway project in Kazarman of Jalalabad Region, Kyrgyzstan, October 27, 2020. /Xinhua

Thirdly, the joint efforts in promoting the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) offer synergy to the cooperation between China and Kazakhstan in various fields. Kazakhstan, where the Silk Road Economic Belt, a significant part of the BRI, was first proposed, holds a position of unique importance in jointly building the Belt and Road.

China and Kazakhstan were the first to sign bilateral cooperation documents in the pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative, driving constant and tangible progress in areas such as trade, connectivity, capacity cooperation, energy, agriculture, education, science and technology, and culture. This has made the two countries exemplars and benchmarks for the high-quality joint development of the BRI.

Together, the two countries have established a comprehensive, multidimensional connectivity network, operating year-round seven pairs of border ports, five cross-border oil and gas pipelines, two cross-border railways, and an international border cooperation center.

As of April 8 this year, the Horgos railway port has handled 2,032 China-Europe (Central Asia) freight trains – the 2,000 mark is reached 10 days earlier compared to 2022. In 2022, China-Kazakhstan trade reached around $31.2 billion, nearly 45 percent of China's total trade with the five Central Asian countries.

A series of key cooperation projects, such as the Shymkent refinery, the Almaty solar power station, the agricultural technology park in North Kazakhstan Region, the nuclear fuel assemblies plant in East Kazakhstan Region, the glass complex in Kyzylorda, and the car factory in Kostanay, have been successfully executed, providing fresh impetus to the bilateral cooperation.

China has set up five Confucius Institutes in Kazakhstan, providing Chinese language training for over 3,000 individuals annually. Both sides are expediting the establishment of consulates in Xian and Aktobe. An impending visa exemption agreement between the two countries will greatly facilitate personnel exchanges.

Fourthly, practical and efficient international collaboration contributes to the creation of a more equitable and rational global governance system. China and Kazakhstan maintain close communication and cooperation on multilateral affairs: jointly upholding the international system with the United Nations at its core; opposing all forms of unilateralism; advocating for the implementation of the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative; practicing genuine multilateralism; promoting the shared values of mankind; and safeguarding international fairness and justice. The two countries maintain close cooperation within multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), working hand-in-hand to build a closer China-Central Asia community with a shared future.

The world is undergoing changes unseen in a century. Changes of the world, of our times and of history are unfolding today in ways like never before. This requires all countries to strengthen unity, jointly respond to challenges, and forge a closer community with a shared future. The China-Central Asia Summit, born out of this necessity, arrives at an opportune moment.

As active advocates, participants and contributors to the China-Central Asia Summit mechanism, China and Kazakhstan will join hands with other regional countries at the Summit, and take the occasion to strengthen the strategic guidance and top-level design of diplomatic relations at the head-of-state level. The two countries will highlight the principles of mutual consultation, joint construction and shared benefits; call for the improvement of the mechanism; deepen policy communications; and advance mutually beneficial cooperation across various fields pragmatically and efficiently. Such joint efforts aim to elevate China-Central Asia friendly cooperation to new heights, bringing greater benefits to the people of all countries.

As the Chinese poem goes, "Someday, with my sail piercing the clouds; I will mount the wind, break the waves, and traverse the vast, rolling sea." I believe that the China-Central Asia Summit, setting sail from the ancient capital city of Xian, will serve as an effective platform for friendly cooperation among China and Central Asian countries. It will open a new chapter of security, stability, development and prosperity in China and Central Asia.

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