Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is here for the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, May 14, 2017. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)
by Xinhua Writer Liao Bingqing
MOSCOW, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday started a four-day state visit to Kazakhstan, his third visit to the central Asian country, at the invitation of his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic ties between China and Kazakhstan. Against this backdrop, Xi's visit is widely expected to further advance the bilateral relations and enhance the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.
BROAD PROSPECTS FOR DEVELOPMENT OF BILATERAL TIES
The relations between China and Kazakhstan have been developing steadily and substantially over the past 25 years. With a solid foundation for joint development and a goal to combine mutual interests, the two are expected to chart the course for the further development of bilateral ties during Xi's upcoming visit.
"China-Kazakhstan relations are built on the basis of reciprocity and mutual understanding. There are no pending issues between the two countries, and the future development of their bilateral ties enjoys broad prospects," Ruslam Izimov, head of the Eurasian Studies Program at the Institute of World Economy and Politics, told Xinhua.
From previous fruitful achievements of bilateral cooperation, experts are convinced that Xi's upcoming visit will once again greatly promote the China-Kazakhstan partnership.
Top leaders of China and Kazakhstan have been in close contact over recent years, broadening and deepening bilateral relations and cooperation to a great extent.
In September 2013, Xi paid his first state visit to Kazakhstan, during which the two countries signed a joint declaration on a new stage of comprehensive strategic partnership. It was also during this visit that Xi put forward the initiative of building the Silk Road Economic Belt for the first time.
The visit by Xi also set the tone for the development of bilateral ties in the past years.
"The general direction of the two countries' national development was determined during President Xi's visit to Kazakhstan in 2013, namely, the joint building of the Silk Road Economic Belt," Chinese Ambassador to Kazakhstan Zhang Hanhui said.
The initiative proposed by Xi was warmly supported by Kazakhstan. A year later, Nazarbayev, the Kazakh president, introduced his new economic plan known as "Bright Path," which also lays emphasis on investment in infrastructure and priority sectors.
In Xi's second visit in May 2015, the two countries pledged to further align their development strategies in the pursuit of common prosperity.
"The relationship between China and Kazakhstan concerns common development of the two countries as well as regional peace and stability. Therefore, the two sides should implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, and promote bilateral cooperation in line with predetermined paths for the benefit of the peoples," Zhang said.
During the upcoming visit, Xi will also attend the 17th meeting of Heads of State Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the opening ceremony of the World Expo in Astana.
In May 2014, Nazarbayev paid a state visit to China, during which he and Xi agreed to promote bilateral cooperation in a wide range of fields as well as strengthen cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
ENORMOUS POTENTIAL OF COOPERATION
Promoting bilateral cooperation is the focus of Xi's upcoming visit. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the two presidents will sign and issue a joint statement, participate in a video link event on cross-border transportation and witness the signing of a series of deals in the areas of economy and trade, finance and water conservation.
Cooperation between the two countries has been blossoming over the past three years and reached an unprecedentedly high level, covering multiple areas such as trade, energy, infrastructure and environmental protection, amid efforts to integrate China's Belt and Road Initiative with Kazakhstan's Bright Path Economic Plan.
Kazakhstan is among the earliest to join China in implementing the Belt and Road Initiative. In late 2014, China and Kazakhstan reached a preliminary consensus on industrial capacity cooperation worth more than 14 billion U.S. dollars. In march 2015, the two countries signed 33 deals in this field totaling 23.6 billion dollars, covering steel, non-ferrous metals, sheet glass, oil refining, hydro-power and automobiles.
"China and Kazakhstan have set a successful example with regard to cooperation in the areas of industrial capacity, energy and connectivity," said Sun Zhuangzhi, secretary general of the SCO Research Center affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
He added that further enhancing cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative by the two countries will serve as a convincing role model to other interested countries.
Agricultural cooperation has become another key area for bilateral cooperation between China and Kazakhstan, experts said. According to Izimov, China and Kazakhstan are currently carrying out more than 20 joint agricultural projects in a bid to expand cooperation in this field.
"Kazakhstan has vast arable land and well-conditioned prairies. It is feasible to stimulate productivity in its farming and animal husbandry via cooperation between the two countries, while China is also ready to open its market to high-quality agricultural exports from Kazakhstan," Zhang said.
In addition, people-to-people exchanges could also be a highlight of bilateral cooperation in the future. With deepening understanding of the significance of China-Kazakhstan relations, an increasing number of Kazakh citizens from all walks of life start to show greater interest in learning about China, which provides huge potential for cooperation in this area.
While Kazakhstan is hosting the Year of China Tourism event, Zhang suggested the two countries take this opportunity to strengthen their cultural and people-to-people cooperation, including opening more air routes to promote tourism.
"Connections between Chinese people and Kazakh people lay the foundation for the development of bilateral ties and the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative," Zhang said.