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Staying True to Our Shared Commitment and
Opening a New Chapter in China-Kazakhstan Relations

2024-07-02 13:42

Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China

All beings are flourishing in the height of summer. I will soon pay a state visit to Kazakhstan and attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in this vibrant season at the invitation of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. This will be my fifth visit to your country as the President of the People’s Republic of China. Kazakhstan’s enchanting land, its splendid and distinctive culture, its vast and magnificent landscape, and its nice and friendly people have been most impressive. The visit offers me an opportunity to experience first hand the new progress and new changes that have been made in Kazakhstan. I look forward to meeting with President Tokayev to plan the way forward for closer China-Kazakhstan cooperation and draw a new blueprint for further growth of China-Kazakhstan relations and the SCO.

Over 2,000 years ago, Zhang Qian, a royal emissary from China led a diplomatic mission to the Western Regions, opening the door to friendship and exchanges between China and Central Asia. The ancient Silk Road, of which Zhang was a pioneer, contributed to the friendly exchanges and mutual learning between our two great nations. Over 80 years ago, Chinese musician Xian Xinghai and Kazahk composer Bakhtzhan Baikadamov met and came to know each other in Almaty. They soon became bosom friends and devoted brothers despite their different nationalities. Thirty-two years ago, China was among the first countries to recognize Kazakhstan’s independence. China-Kazakhstan relations have since embarked on a new journey. The history of China-Kazakhstan friendly exchanges is a strong testament to the fact that the development of our bilateral relationship conforms to the trend of history and that of our times.

It was in Kazakhstan eleven years ago that I first proposed the initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt, which was warmly received by people from different sectors in Kazakhstan. This marked a magnificent chapter in Belt and Road cooperation between our two countries. And the development of China-Kazakhstan relations have since entered a new stage.

Our two countries have always supported each other and have always been partners in times of challenge. Our mutual political trust has reached a new level. The China-Kazakhstan relationship has made a leap from a comprehensive strategic partnership to a permanent comprehensive strategic partnership. The two countries have agreed on the vision of building a China-Kazakhstan community with a shared future defined by lasting friendship, a high degree of mutual trust and sharing weal and woe. We have rendered each other firm support on issues that bear on our respective core interests and are of major concern to us. We respect the development path that each has chosen according to our respective national conditions. We have always been trustworthy and reliable partners and would invariably extend a helping hand and do our utmost to support each other when we were hit by disasters like floods and pandemics. Such unbreakable mutual trust and support are invaluable, forming the strongest political cornerstone that underpins our bilateral cooperation.

Our two countries have always pursued mutual benefit, win-win and coordinated development, achieving new success in results-oriented cooperation. Last year, our two-way trade registered a record high of US$41 billion. China is now Kazakhstan’s largest trading partner and its top export destination. Major strategic projects including the Zhanatas wind farm, Turgusun hydropower station, and the modernization of Shymkent Oil Refinery have been completed and commissioned. China-Kazakhstan crude oil and natural gas pipelines are operating in a safe and stable manner. The “green lanes” for fast customs clearance of agricultural products are available at all border ports between the two countries, which makes green agri-products of high quality from Kazakhstan easily accessible for Chinese consumers. The potential for cooperation in new energy and transportation infrastructure has been unleashed. The transport and logistics terminal in Xi’an, the Western Europe-Western China Highway, and the China-Europe Railway Express all operate smoothly, providing a strong boost to the development of both China and Kazakhstan.

Our two countries have always helped and learned from each other and witnessed a new upsurge in people-to-people and cultural exchanges. A China-Kazakhstan agreement on mutual establishment of cultural centers has been signed. Chinese and Kazakh filmmakers have co-produced a film entitled “The Composer,” which is their first co-production. Our bilateral programs for cultural cooperation, including a Chinese university campus in Kazakhstan, a Luban Workshop, and a center of traditional Chinese medicine, have been fully implemented. These institutions are now up and running. Thanks to our mutual visa-exemption arrangements, our people can visit each other as frequently as relatives do. Last year, a total of 600,000 cross-border trips were recorded. In the first quarter of this year, the number of visits in both directions amounted to 200,000 and are expected to reach a new high. Subnational cooperation is also booming, with the number of sister cities increasing to 26 pairs. The much respected and lauded ophthalmologist Dr. Saulebek Kabibekov, the “panda-man” Ruslan Tulenov, who voluntarily donated his rare type of blood in China, and the immensely popular singer Dimash Kudaibergen have become China-Kazakhstan friendship envoys in the new era.

Our two countries have always worked together in response to various challenges, and our coordination and collaboration at the international level has achieved new and tangible results. China and Kazakhstan hold similar positions on international and regional affairs. Both countries champion the vision of common, comprehensive cooperative and sustainable security. And both are committed to acting as a world peace builder, a global development contributor, and an international order defender. We have jointly created a China-Central Asia cooperation mechanism, and maintained close coordination and collaboration in the United Nations, the SCO, and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, among other multilateral organizations. We have actively supported each other’s constructive proposals for international cooperation, and taken resolute measures to safeguard our shared strategic, security, and development interests.

China and Kazakhstan can and will accomplish a great deal in bilateral cooperation in the years to come. I hope my visit will help renew our traditional friendship and deepen the all-round cooperation between our countries. During my visit, President Tokayev and I will meet and plan the way forward for further growth of China-Kazakhstan relations and discuss how best to take the China-Kazakhstan permanent comprehensive strategic partnership to new heights.

First, our two countries need to further consolidate our political tradition of mutual support. As a Chinese saying goes, “We must be people of our word in dealing with friends.” China will continue to treat our Kazakh friends with sincerity and engage them with trust. China will work with Kazakhstan to further consolidate mutual political trust, strengthen strategic communication, and firmly support each other on issues that bear on our respective core interests and are of major concern to us. As always, China will support Kazakhstan in upholding its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, in continuing on the development path suited to its national conditions, in implementing domestic and foreign policies in the interest of its development and prosperity, and in opposing interference in its internal affairs by any external forces. Our two countries need to always follow the four principles that hold key to the success of our cooperation, namely, mutual respect, good neighborly friendship, solidarity in trying times, and mutual benefit, so as to ensure sustained and steady growth of China-Kazakhstan relations.

Second, our two countries need to stay committed to the golden rule of mutual benefit and win-win in our cooperation. China and Kazakhstan have different yet complementary resource endowments and industries. This offers huge potential for cooperation. China stands ready to promote greater synergy between Belt and Road cooperation and the economic policies under a Just Kazakhstan at a faster pace, and further open our super-sized market to Kazakhstan so that our Kazakh friends can share the opportunities of our development. Our two countries need to deepen cooperation in traditional sectors including business, trade, industrial capacity, investment, energy, mining and agriculture, and enhance the efficiency of customs clearance at border ports. We need to ensure the high-quality operation of the China-Europe Railway Express, advance the construction of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, and make the network connecting our two countries more multidimensional, diverse and efficient. We need to significantly unleash the potential for cooperation in such high-tech areas as new energy, the digital economy, artificial intelligence, cross-border e-commerce, aviation and aerospace, and build more industrial and supply chains with high added-values, in order to inject new impetus to our cooperation.

Third, our two countries need to strengthen public support for an everlasting China-Kazakhstan friendship. A deeper and stronger China-Kazakhstan friendship is what our two peoples aspire to. It is therefore important that we carry forward such friendship and enhance mutual understanding and affinity between our peoples through a diverse range of cultural and people-to-people exchange programs. Our two countries need to ensure the success of the Luban Workshop, Confucius Institutes, and the Kazakh campus of the Northwestern Polytechnical University to foster future generations who will carry forward the China-Kazakhstan friendship. China welcomes joint education programs and joint research projects between Chinese and Kazakh higher education institutions, think tanks and research institutes. China supports closer interactions between people from all sectors across Chinese and Kazakh societies. Both countries need to encourage more twinning between our provinces and cities and more cooperation on education, tourism, archaeology, arts, and media, so as to expand the depth and scope of China-Kazakhstan cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

Fourth, our two countries need to be responsive to the accelerated changes on a scale unseen in a century that are unfolding across the world. Changes and turbulence in the global landscape pose new threats and new challenges, but also bring new opportunities and create new possibilities for all-round cooperation of mutual benefit between China and Kazakhstan. We Chinese believe that in every challenge lies an opportunity, and that challenges and opportunities are interchangeable. China stands ready to join hands with Kazakhstan in response to the changes of historic significance that are taking place in our world and in our times. We need to foster new opportunities amid crises, and open up new horizons on a shifting landscape. China will work with Kazakhstan to uphold the international system with the United Nations at its core and the international order underpinned by international law, act on true multilateralism, oppose hegemonism, power politics and bloc confrontation. We will work together to build an equal and orderly multipolar world, promote universally beneficial and inclusive economic globalization, and bring about more positivity and certainty to world peace and stability.

Another important item on my agenda in Kazakhstan is to attend the SCO Summit. China highly commends the successful and fruitful work Kazakhstan has done in its capacity as the SCO chair to grow the influence of the organization. I have no doubt that the SCO Astana Summit will be a great success through concerted efforts of all parties and will help rally the SCO family closer and open up new prospects for SCO cooperation.

As a Chinese saying goes, “Success comes to those who share in one purpose. Triumph belongs to those who pull together in times of challenge.” In Kazakhstan, people say that five fingers held together make a powerful fist, and many people working in unity form a mighty force.

China will work shoulder to shoulder with Kazakhstan on the path to national prosperity and rejuvenation. Let us jointly draw up a new blueprint for closer cooperation and open a new chapter in China-Kazakhstan friendly relations.

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