Xi believes potential must be “fully unleashed” in China and Central Asia
Following a historic summit with the leaders of the strategically significant area, Xi Jinping urged China and Central Asia to “fully unleash” their potential for trade, economic, and infrastructural cooperation on Friday.
This week, the Chinese president will welcome the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan for a summit in Xi’an, in northern China. Beijing has deemed this gathering to be a “milestone” in importance.
Beijing claims that commerce with Central Asia increased by 22% year over year in the first quarter of 2023, reaching US$70 billion (RM318.68 billion) in 2022.
The Belt and Road Initiative, a trillion-dollar Chinese global infrastructure initiative, likewise heavily relies on this region.
A state media summary of Xi’s remarks to regional leaders stated that the nations must “fully unleash the potential of traditional cooperation in economy, trade, industrial capacity, energy, and transport.”
The need to create “new growth drivers… such as finance, agriculture, poverty reduction, low carbon, health, and digital innovation” was another point he emphasized.
“China and Central Asian nations should strengthen their strategic mutual trust and consistently provide each other with strong, clear support on issues pertaining to shared interests.”
With Beijing eager to relaunch collaboration and fill the void left in former Soviet republics by Russia’s war in Ukraine, Belt and Road is a defining geopolitical endeavor for Xi.
In a statement on Friday, Xi emphasized the need for the region and China to “take the lead” in the endeavor and “deepen strategic mutual trust”.
The Chinese leader also stated that the leaders intended to meet again in Kazakhstan in 2025 with the purpose of “maintaining everlasting friendship”.
He also emphasized the need to increase security cooperation in the face of the separatism, terrorism, and extremism that Beijing has labeled the “three evils” in the area.
Xi made allusion to turmoil in former Soviet republics that Moscow and others claim is supported by the West when he said, “The six countries should resolutely oppose external interference in the internal affairs of regional countries and attempts to instigate ‘color revolutions’”.