Summit charts course for shared future

President Xi Jinping and visiting leaders of five Central Asian countries wave as they pose for pictures at a group photo session during the China-Central Asia Summit in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, on May 19, 2023. (FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY)

XI’AN – China and the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have agreed to support the establishment of a China-Central Asia energy development partnership to expand full-chain energy cooperation as part of the fruitful achievements of the landmark China-Central Asia Summit, which concluded on Friday.

During the summit in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, President Xi Jinping, together with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, reached a wide range of new consensuses on cooperation in various fields, including the economy, trade, investment, security and people-to-people exchanges.

They pledged to work together for an even closer China-Central Asia community with a shared future featuring mutual assistance, common development, universal security and everlasting friendship.

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The heads of state of the six countries jointly signed the Xi'an Declaration of the China-Central Asia Summit, adopted a list of summit outcomes, and charted a blueprint for the future development of China-Central Asia relations.

Together, we will foster a new cooperation paradigm featuring high-level complementarity and mutual benefit.

Xi Jinping, President, China

The declaration said that the six countries will further expand their partnership in traditional energy, such as petroleum, natural gas and coal, strengthen renewable energy cooperation, and intensify collaboration in that peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Noting that their energy partnership is an important part of sustainable development in the region, the six countries underlined the importance of a stable energy supply to economic, trade and investment cooperation, and support for speeding up construction of the D line of the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline, according to the declaration.

In his keynote address to the summit, Xi announced that, to bolster cooperation with Central Asia, China will provide Central Asian countries with a total of 26 billion yuan ($3.7 billion) of financing support and grants.

He highlighted that the world needs a harmonious Central Asia, saying: "No one has the right to sow discord or stoke confrontation in the region, let alone seek selfish political interests."

While jointly meeting the media with the presidents of the five Central Asian countries after the summit, Xi said that the six countries will firmly support each other on issues concerning respective core interests such as sovereignty, independence, security and territorial integrity, respect the development path chosen based on each other's national conditions, and firmly oppose interference in internal affairs by any force or under any pretext.

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The five Central Asian countries fully recognize the significance of the Chinese path to modernization for the world's development, and reiterate their firm commitment to the one-China principle, Xi said.

He said that China and the Central Asian countries will take the 10th anniversary of Belt and Road cooperation as a new starting point to build better synergy among development strategies, promote trade liberalization and facilitation, expand industrial and investment cooperation and further develop transport corridors connecting China and Central Asia.

"Together, we will foster a new cooperation paradigm featuring high-level complementarity and mutual benefit," he said.

Looking forward, Xi said that China's relations with the Central Asian countries will "forge ahead like a ship braving all winds and waves", offer new vitality to the development and revitalization of the six countries, and inject strong and positive energy to the peace and stability of the region.

The presidents of the five Central Asian countries spoke highly about the achievements of the summit and the fruitful outcomes of their all-around cooperation with China. They said that China has now become a crucial force for ensuring global security and stability and for promoting scientific, technological and economic development, and cooperation with China is an important factor indispensable for countries' pursuit of sustainable development.

They commended China's policy of friendship and cooperation toward Central Asia, and expressed readiness to keep fully harnessing the strategic and leading role of head-of-state diplomacy, expand and strengthen the Central Asia-China Summit Mechanism, enhance top-level planning and coordination, and deepen their all-around practical cooperation with China.

The six countries officially inaugurated the China-Central Asia Summit Mechanism, with China and Central Asian countries taking turns to host the biennial summit. They agreed that the second China-Central Asia Summit be hosted by Kazakhstan in 2025. The six countries will work to flesh out the mechanism, and establish a permanent secretariat in China.

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In an interview with Chinese media following the summit, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang said that the event was "fruitful", as it gave fresh impetus to the deepening of China-Central Asia relations, and in the meantime, it contributed to upholding international fairness and justice.

The six countries agreed to abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, firmly uphold multilateralism, resist unilateralism, hegemony and power politics, and strive to promote the democratization of international relations and make the international order and global governance system fairer and more equitable, he said.