Xi In Kazakhstan For First Foreign Trip In More Than Two Years
President Xi Jinping has arrived in Kazakhstan for a state visit, in his first overseas trip in nearly 1,000 days.
(Bloomberg) -- President Xi Jinping has arrived in Kazakhstan for a state visit, in his first foreign trip in nearly 1,000 days as he shores up alliances to counter US influence on the world order.
The Chinese leader landed in the capital city of Nur-Sultan on Wednesday, accompanied by his nation’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Xi, who wore a mask bearing a Chinese flag, was greeted on the tarmac by a marching band and President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who he was set to hold talks with that afternoon.
The trip marks Xi’s return to the world stage after being the only Group of 20 leader to avoid leaving his country since the first Covid lockdown began in January 2020.
On Tuesday, the Chinese leader published an article in a local newspaper calling for deeper China-Kazakhstan ties on security and defense, including counter-terrorism efforts. He also advocated for bolstering cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative that Xi launched in Kazakhstan in 2013.
“Having stood the test of the changing circumstances and the passage of time, China-Kazakhstan relations have long become rock-solid,” he wrote. “We should cherish this hard-won achievement, and work harder to carry on the cause of friendship between our two countries.”
Xi will next travel to neighboring Uzbekistan, where he’s expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, which runs from Sept. 15-16. That sit-down would be the two leaders’ first in-person conversation since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February.
Xi’s sweep through Central Asia is a chance to promote his vision of a world where China can expand its interests without fearing the threat of economic or military pressure from the US. It comes a month before a twice-in-a-decade party congress where he’s expected to clinch a precedent-busting third term, and push his agenda for a multipolar world.
Read: Xi Returns to World Stage With Putin to Counter US Dominance
Beijing’s relationship with the US has become increasingly tense following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taipei last month, with China launching unprecedented military exercises around the democratically ruled island that it considers a breakaway province.
Kazakhstan is a strategic choice for Xi’s first foreign trip. The Central Asian country is home to 40% of the world’s uranium, an increasingly important resource as developed nations turn to atomic energy as a longer-term source of power. It also borders Xinjiang, where Beijing has been accused of aggressive policies to suppress its ethnic minority populations, including millions of mostly Muslim Uyghurs.
In July, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi also traveled to Kazakhstan, the country where Xi launched what would become his flagship Belt and Road initiative in 2013. The Chinese leader said in January that he firmly opposed forces that undermine Kazakhstan’s stability, after mass protests broke out there over spikes in fuel prices.
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