China, Kazakhstan open new chapter of partnership
Kazakhstan will continue following a balanced, constructive foreign policy aimed at protecting its national interests. It will prioritize issues of mutually beneficial cooperation and strategic partnership with neighboring states — China, Russia and the countries of Central Asia — and partners in regional associations.
Last year, Kazakhstan and China marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations. During this period, we have achieved great results and taken our relations to the highest level, an eternal all-round strategic partnership, laying a solid foundation for strengthening good neighborly ties and further deepening mutually beneficial cooperation.
In February 2022, despite the difficult situation in our country at the time, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and held talks with President Xi Jinping, demonstrating that the two countries have jointly built a solid foundation for a truly strategic partnership in all respects.
In turn, President Xi’s visit to Kazakhstan in September 2022 — at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic was yet to be contained — showed the international community that the two countries have established a high level of partnership and mutual trust, as well as opened a new chapter of the 30th anniversary of Kazakhstan-China relations.
As a result of their talks, a number of intergovernmental and interdepartmental documents were signed in the areas of trade, economy, agriculture, finance, water use and the media. Agreements were also reached on opening consulates general in the cities of Aktobe in Kazakhstan and Xi’an in China, restoring direct flights from Kazakhstan to Beijing, opening the “Lu Ban Workshop” and building a third railway crossing on the border.
All these indicate that political trust and business partnership between Kazakhstan and China have reached a qualitatively new level.
Today, there are no unresolved issues between our countries or any obstacles for further deepening of cooperation and strengthening of friendship. The initiatives put forward by President Xi — the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative — are aimed at helping build a just and sustainable world, and Kazakhstan supports them. Kazakhstan also supports the proposed peace plan to resolve the Ukraine crisis.
Tokayev has repeatedly stressed, including at various international venues, that Kazakhstan is firmly committed to the values of peace, cooperation and trust.
Kazakhstan and China have established close cooperation in multilateral organizations such as the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the China-Central Asia Format Meetings.
I want to especially emphasize that representatives of Taoist and Buddhist religions from China have always taken an active part in the work of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. In September last year, despite the strict anti-pandemic measures, a strong Chinese delegation representing traditional religions and the State Administration for Religious Affairs took part in the work of the congress and its secretariat.
And Wang Qishan, then vice-president of China, took part in the Sixth CICA meeting in Astana in October last year. Addressing the meeting, Wang said China sees the development of the CICA from a strategic point of view and based on long-term prospects.
We in Kazakhstan support the plans of the Chinese side to hold the first Central Asia-China summit this year. And during the forthcoming state visit of President Tokayev to China, we expect new breakthrough agreements in strengthening and further developing the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership.
China is one of the major trade and investment partners of Kazakhstan. In 2022, according to Chinese government statistics, bilateral trade hit a record high of $31.2 billion.
As a key link in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, Kazakhstan is ready for more practical cooperation on initiatives such as the Digital Silk Road, the Green Silk Road and the Health Silk Road, as well as the implementation of projects in the fields of digitalization, green technology and innovation. We are ready to fully support our Chinese partners through the implementation of a new investment policy, which is an integral part of the new economic course of Kazakhstan.
Last year, Kazakhstan introduced a 14-day visa-free policy for Chinese citizens, which is already yielding results. In fact, Kazakhstan was included in the recent list of countries recommended by the Chinese government for Chinese tourists.
We hope both sides remove more visa restrictions in order to boost trade, and economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation between the two countries. The issue of the mutual establishment of cultural centers and the opening of a branch of one of the leading Chinese universities in Kazakhstan is being worked out, and cultural exchanges between youths are being resumed.
I am convinced that through joint efforts we will be able to open a bright new chapter in cooperation and partnership between our countries.
The writer is Kazakhstan’s ambassador to China