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Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 5. Photo: Xinhua

China is a reliable friend and partner, President Xi Jinping tells Central Asian leaders on Olympics visit

  • Pledges from Chinese president come during string of meetings with heads of state visiting Beijing for the Winter Games
  • Talks follow Xi’s landmark meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin where both reiterated commitment to a joint stand on global issues
Central Asia
China is a reliable partner for Central Asian nations and seeks to deepen cooperation in areas ranging from energy to security, Beijing has stressed, in its latest push to step up engagement with the region.
This came as Chinese President Xi Jinping met the leaders of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Xi’s meetings on Saturday, which also included exchanges with the Serbian and Egyptian leaders, followed groundbreaking talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the Olympic opening ceremony a day earlier, amid simmering tensions with the United States.


Xi meets with Putin ahead of Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony

Xi meets with Putin ahead of Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony
China is a permanent reliable partner for Kazakhstan, Xi told his counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev when they met on Saturday. He said China firmly supported Kazakhstan in safeguarding its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and believed the nation was capable of maintaining its national security and social stability.

“China will always be a reliable and firm partner for Kazakhstan … and is willing to deepen mutual political trust and expand all-round cooperation,” Xi was quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV.

Tokayev arrived in Beijing on Thursday to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, with the capital and the neighbouring city of Zhangjiakou hosting the February 4-20 event.

His visit comes just weeks after authorities in the oil-rich former Soviet state – aided by Russian-led troops – put down its worst civil unrest in decades.

Xi said relations between China and Kazakhstan were of significance to regional and world peace and stability, adding that Beijing was willing to deepen mutual security cooperation.

Tokayev said Kazakhstan would continue to be China’s reliable strategic partner and offer firm support on issues concerning its core interests, according to CCTV.

Kazakhstan envoy affirms China links, downplays pan-Turkism fears

Xi’s comments came after Kazakhstan last month grappled with its worst riots in the 30 years since independence from a collapsing Soviet Union.

The mass protests in early January, triggered by a rise in fuel prices, soon turned deadly and caused the government to resign.

Authorities said 225 people were killed and some 10,000 others detained in the aftermath of the demonstrations.

At the peak of the unrest, Tokayev asked the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation to send in troops to help overcome what he described as a terrorist threat.

“Given the fact that we are having to deal with international terrorist groups, which were thoroughly trained abroad, their attack on Kazakhstan can and should be regarded as an act of aggression,” he said in a statement carried on Kazakh state TV.

In a message to Tokayev in early January, Xi said China opposed any forces that undermined Kazakhstan’s stability and threatened its security, and that Beijing was willing to support its efforts to resolve the crisis.

During his meeting with Tokayev on Saturday, Xi said the two nations would deepen cooperation in areas such as green energy, health care, artificial intelligence and digital finance under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Xi made a similar pledge of friendship to Turkmenistan in a separate meeting with President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov on Saturday.

Stressing that China was Turkmenistan’s “reliable friend and partner”, Xi called for deeper cooperation between the two nations, including on the construction of a China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline, infrastructure and Covid-19 vaccines, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

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A day earlier, during his meeting with Putin, Xi had reiterated China and Russia’s commitment to standing back-to-back on strategic cooperation, and safeguarding international fairness and justice.
In their joint statement released on Friday, the two leaders reaffirmed their pledge to support each other on issues involving core interests, and vowed to oppose interference by external forces.