(Report by Dr Shahid Qureshi – ASTANA – Media ) — The just concluded trip of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Kazakhstan adds impetus to the building of the Belt and Road, cements the bond among countries for the community of shared future and opens up broad prospects for peace and prosperity in the region, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday.
Xi left Astana on the same day for home after a state visit to Kazakhstan, where he attended the 17th meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
“This is Xi’s first foreign visit after he presided over the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and also a major diplomatic activity of China in the Eurasia region,” Wang told the press.
“This tour embodies the ‘Silk Road Spirit,’ which features peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit,” he noted.
ELEVATING CHINA-KAZAKHSTAN TIES TO NEW HEIGHT
The relationship between China and Kazakhstan has witnessed rapid development since they established diplomatic ties 25 years ago.
In Astana, Xi held talks with his old friend, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, to take stock of the achievements the two countries have made and to chart the course for future cooperation.
This trip marked Xi’s third state visit to the Central Asian country and it has been the 16th meeting between the two leaders since 2012.
Noting that the political mutual trust has reached an unprecedented height, Xi said China is willing to build “a stronger community of shared interests and shared future” with Kazakhstan, and hopes the two countries can be “good neighbors, friends and partners forever.”
Xi and Nazarbayev agreed to maintain close high-level and institutional exchanges, respect the two country’s choices of development path and policies in accordance with their respective national conditions, support each other’s efforts in safeguarding their core interests, and jointly address the challenges to regional security and stability.
On Thursday, Xi, accompanied by Nazarbayev, visited the Chinese national pavilion of the Expo 2017 in Astana and attended the opening ceremony of the Expo. Xi’s attendance shows support not only for the Kazakh side in organizing the event, but also for Central Asia countries in pursuing development and seeking growing international standing.
LEADING SCO TOWARDS NEW DEVELOPMENT
Over the past 16 years since its establishment, the SCO has developed into a significant platform for enhancing mutual trust, deepening good neighborliness and friendship, expanding pragmatic cooperation and maintaining regional security and stability between the member states.
The SCO summit accepted India and Pakistan as its full members in its first expansion since its founding in 2001, making it the world’s most populous regional cooperative organization and the largest by area.
Welcoming the new members, Xi called on the SCO to “carry forward the fine tradition of solidarity and coordination.”
“All member states, old and new, should work in close coordination, deepen mutual trust and increase mutual support in their endeavor to build a community of shared future featuring equality, mutual support, solidarity and sharing of weal and woe,” Xi said while addressing the annual gathering of the SCO heads of state.
Xi also proposed that the SCO draw up a five-year outline for implementation of the Treaty on Long-term Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation and formulate a three-year program of cooperation to fight the “three evil forces” of terrorism, extremism and separatism.
OPENING UP NEW CHAPTER FOR BELT AND ROAD BUILDING
Back in 2013 in Kazakhstan, Xi first proposed the initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt, starting the process of Belt and Road cooperation.
The Belt and Road Initiative comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, with the aim of building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes.
Four years later, when Xi returned to Astana, the initiative has been translated from a proposal into actions, and from a concept into practice.
In their talks, Xi and Nazarbayev agreed to further integrate the Belt and Road Initiative with Kazakhstan’s development strategy of “Nurly Zhol,” or “Bright Path” in the Kazakh language.
Kazakhstan is a major country located along the Belt and Road routes. Xi’s visit facilitates the joint efforts of China and Kazakhstan in building the Belt and Road and in their capacity cooperation.
The Chinese leader urged concerted efforts of both countries to make the new Eurasia land and maritime routes linked by Lianyungang and Horgos pilot projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to promote peace, prosperity, openness, innovation and exchanges of civilizations along these paths.