BEIJING, May 18, 2023 /CNW/ — China’s General Administration of Customs published data on Wednesday, showing that China’s import and export volume with Central Asian countries amounted to 173.05 billion yuan ($24.8 billion) in the first four months, an increase of 37.3 percent compared with the same period last year.
It is particularly noteworthy that China’s export and import volume with the five Central Asian countries, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, reached a combined 50.27 billion yuan in April alone, exceeding 50 billion yuan for the first time, marking a new step in trade volume.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that the keys to successful cooperation between China and the five Central Asian countries are mutual respect, good neighborliness and friendship, solidarity, and mutual benefit.
The presidents of the five Central Asian countries are all in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, to attend the China-Central Asia Summit, which is scheduled for Thursday and Friday. President Xi held bilateral meetings with each of the five Central Asian leaders, with the talks covering topics including promoting bilateral ties, enhancing win-win cooperation, safeguarding regional safety and development, and building a community with a shared future.
Mutual trust, solidarity
“China and the Central Asian countries, with their interests closely entwined, have stood together through thick and thin and are a community with a shared future,” Xi noted when meeting with Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov on Thursday.
In the past decade, Xi visited Central Asia seven times and also hosted multiple Central Asian leaders in China. Xi has had in-depth exchanges with people from different sectors in the region. Guided by head-of-state diplomacy, the friendship and political mutual trust between China and the five Central Asian countries have been constantly deepened.
China has established comprehensive strategic partnerships will all the five countries and reached consensus with them on building a community with a shared future on a bilateral level.
Xi and Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov on Thursday also announced the elevation of the bilateral relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership for a new era.
The five Central Asian leaders spoke of the need to build a community with a shared future to contribute to the development and vitalization of both sides.
Mutual respect, support
Talking with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on Thursday, Xi said that the two sides should firmly support each other and be trustworthy and reliable friends and partners of each other.
In the face of a turbulent and complex world situation, China and the Central Asian countries have become more aware of the need to support each other in order to safeguard regional peace and realize modernization and development of their respective countries. This is highly consistent with the China-proposed Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative.
During their talks with Xi, the five leaders hailed the significance of the three initiatives and reaffirmed their commitment to coordinate with China on their implementation.
Xi reiterated China’s firm support for the Central Asian countries to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to independently choose development paths suited to their own national conditions, stressing China opposes foreign interference in Central Asian countries’ internal affairs.
The five countries also vowed to firmly adhere to the one-China principle and support China’s position on issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and other core interests.
Mutual benefit, cooperation
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev lauded the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a great initiative when he met Xi on Wednesday. Thus, the five Central Asian leaders all expressed their intention to dovetail their countries’ respective development strategies with the BRI.
Ten years ago, Xi put forward the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt in Kazakhstan, which led up to the BRI. Over the past decade, Central Asian countries have become pioneers in promoting the BRI and the region has been built into an example of high-quality BRI development.
From fully loaded trains to humming production lines and natural gas pipelines, from the China–Kyrgyzstan–Uzbekistan highway to the industrial parks, vigorous cooperation has facilitated industrial upgrades and livelihood improvements in the region, resulting in win-win results.
In 2022, China-Central Asia trade volume hit a historic high of $70.2 billion, an over 100-fold increase since diplomatic ties were established 31 years ago.
Apart from the five bilateral talks, a raft of bilateral documents on cooperation in areas including economy, trade, energy, transport, agriculture, connectivity, culture, and local affairs were also signed.
During his meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Xi said he is convinced that, with the concerted efforts of all parties, the China-Central Asia Summit will open a new chapter for China-Central Asia cooperation.