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China’s Xi Arrives in Kazakhstan for State Visit, Summit

Chinese President Xi Jinping was greeted by Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev when he arrived for a state visit on July 2, 2024. Image via the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

By James Edgar

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Kazakhstan on Tuesday for a state visit. During his visit, he will attend a meeting of Shanghai alliance nations in the Kazakh capital, Astana.

The nine-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which encompasses a vast area from Moscow to Beijing, includes around half the world’s population.

Its permanent members are this year’s host Kazakhstan, India, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and, as of last year, Iran.

This year, Belarus is expected to join after being told at 2023’s SCO summit, hosted virtually by India, that it would become a member.

“Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived here Tuesday for the 24th Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and a state visit to Kazakhstan,” state news agency Xinhua reported from Astana.

China’s state broadcaster CCTV said Xi’s plane was escorted by two Kazakh fighter jets when it entered the country’s airspace.

Xinhua reported that Xi’s entourage included Cai Qi, a top-ranking member of the Chinese Communist Party, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning on Monday said Beijing believed the SCO summit would “help build more consensus among all parties and make contributions to promoting security, stability and development of member countries”, and advance “lasting peace and common prosperity in the world”.

In-Depth’ Talks

During his fifth trip to Kazakhstan, Xi will attend various state events, including a welcoming ceremony, a signing ceremony, and a banquet.

Mao said he would hold “in-depth” talks with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev “on bilateral relations, cooperation in key areas, and the regional and international landscape.”

Xi will then head to Tajikistan for his second state visit to China’s western neighbour, where, according to the spokeswoman, he will “make new plans for the growth of China-Tajikistan relations” with President Emomali Rahmon.

Beijing has ramped up diplomatic efforts in Central Asia. Xi Jinping called for a deepening of economic ties during a summit China hosted last May, which was attended by leaders of several countries in the region.

Central Asia is a vital link in China’s flagship Belt and Road international infrastructure development project.

Beijing has sought to fill a void in the region created by Moscow’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, as former Soviet states worry about an increasingly bellicose Russia.

At the Central Asia summit last May, China pledged to expand transport links with the region and forge ahead with a Central Asia-China gas pipeline.

After the Astana meeting, China will assume the SCO’s rotating presidency for the 2024-2025 period.

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