XIAN (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday unveiled an ambitious plan to help lift Central Asia to the next level of its development – from building infrastructure networks to boosting trade – while avoiding “external interference”.
Xi said in a speech at the China-Central Asia Summit in northwest China.
“The world needs a stable, prosperous, harmonious and well-connected Central Asia,” Xi said.
Meanwhile, Xi warned that the six countries should oppose “external interference” in the internal affairs of countries in the region and attempts to incite “color revolutions”, and maintain a zero-tolerance stance against terrorism, separatism and extremism.
“China is ready to help Central Asian countries improve their capacity-building in law enforcement, security and defense,” Xi said.
Chinese state media portrayed the two-day summit in the historic Silk Road city of Xi’an as a triumph for China’s regional diplomacy, with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan earlier pledging support for Beijing and vowing to deepen bilateral relations. cooperation.
The show of solidarity from China’s Central Asian neighbors is expected to contrast sharply with the “negative” image of Beijing that will be projected at the G7 leaders’ summit in Hiroshima this weekend.
A high-profile expression of confidence by China’s neighbors would serve Counter US accusations of coercive Beijing diplomacy. Xi’s gathering of five heads of state on Chinese soil without Russian President Vladimir Putin also appears to ostensibly bring Central Asia closer to China’s sphere of influence, where Moscow’s focus remains focused on the war in Ukraine.
Xi said China and Central Asian countries should deepen strategic mutual trust, and always give each other “clear and firm support” on issues of core interests such as those involving sovereignty, independence, national dignity and long-term development. Fractured Ukraine, which like the countries of Central Asia, was a former Soviet state.
Trade and investment
Xi said China will raise the level of bilateral investment agreements with Central Asian countries, and raise the volume of cross-border freight with the region in an all-round way.
He added that Beijing will encourage Chinese-funded companies in Central Asia to create more local job opportunities, build overseas warehouses in the region, and launch a special train service aimed at boosting cultural tourism in Central Asia.
Bilateral trade between China and Central Asia hit a record $70 billion last year, with Kazakhstan topping $31 billion, as China seeks deeper economic ties in its pursuit of greater food and energy security.
Xi said the construction of Line D of the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline should be accelerated.
He also called on China and Central Asia to increase oil and gas trade, develop energy cooperation across industrial chains, and promote cooperation in new energy and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Moreover, China supports the construction of an international transport corridor across the Caspian Sea, and China will promote the construction of transportation hubs for China-Europe freight train services, Xi said.
Reporting by the Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Jacqueline Wong
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