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Saturday, December 2, 2023

China-Central Asia Summit: A Game-Changer for Regional Development and Peace

WorldAsia-PacificChina-Central Asia Summit: A Game-Changer for Regional Development and Peace

In a landmark summit held in Xi’an, Chinese President Xi Jinping outlined a comprehensive roadmap for China-Central Asia cooperation, emphasizing the need to strengthen collaboration in various sectors, including industry, investment, and energy development. The two-day summit brought together leaders from China and the five Central Asian countries, marking a significant institutionalization of top-level exchanges. Experts lauded the summit’s achievements, highlighting the establishment of cooperation mechanisms that unlock vast potential between China and Central Asian nations while enhancing security ties and mutual trust.

President Xi called for joint efforts to oppose external interference in the domestic affairs of regional countries and thwart attempts to instigate “color revolutions” in the region. This commitment to safeguarding regional sovereignty and stability resonated with the leaders in attendance, who emphasized a zero-tolerance approach towards terrorism, separatism, and extremism. By focusing on security challenges, the summit aimed to forge closer ties and promote cooperation among Central Asian nations.

Contrary to foreign media speculations regarding Russia-China competition in the region, experts stressed that China’s collaboration with Central Asia benefits Russia and the region. Attempts to sow discord are futile as the three sides China, Russia, and Central Asia engage in complementary cooperations, demonstrating their shared interests and reinforcing stability.

The summit, attended by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan, President Sadyr Japarov of Kyrgyzstan, President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan, President Serdar Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan, and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan, witnessed the signing of seven bilateral and multilateral agreements, including the Xi’an Declaration of the China-Central Asia Summit and the List of Outcomes.

President Xi presented an eight-point proposal to bolster economic ties, cultural exchanges, and regional peace. One of the key announcements was the official establishment of the China-Central Asia Summit Mechanism, a biennial summit that will rotate among member countries. Additionally, the leaders agreed to establish a permanent secretariat for the mechanism in China, further solidifying long-term cooperation. President Xi outlined measures to enhance connectivity to boost cross-border freight volumes, develop transportation corridors, and upgrade ports, facilitating trade and promoting economic development.

The summit’s focus on connectivity aligns with China’s broader vision of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as deepening connectivity between China and Central Asia will not only enhance economic development in the region but also strengthen connections with other regions, including South Asia, West Asia, the Caucasus countries, and Europe. Zhu Yongbiao, executive director of the Research Center for the Belt and Road at Lanzhou University, emphasized that such connectivity initiatives will have a cascading effect on the economy, expanding cooperation and investment opportunities.

In addition to economic cooperation, the summit reinforced security ties and emphasized the need to combat external interference and terrorism. President Xi highlighted the importance of the Global Security Initiative and expressed China’s readiness to assist Central Asian countries in improving their law enforcement, security, and defense capabilities. The summit’s focus on security challenges and the commitment to a coordinated approach to regional peace-building demonstrated the enhanced political mutual trust between China and Central Asian nations.

The summit’s outcomes were not limited to bilateral agreements and declarations; they also highlighted the importance of China-Russia cooperation in Central Asia. Chinese observers dismissed the speculation surrounding Russia’s absence at the summit, emphasizing that China’s collaboration with Central Asia aligns with Russia’s interests and contributes to stability in the region. Experts underlined that the cooperation among China, Russia, and Central Asia is a result of mutual engagement, with each country pursuing its own interests while maintaining friendly relations with one another.

As the United States seeks to increase its influence in the region, China’s strengthened cooperation with Central Asian countries is seen as compatible with Russia’s goals. The well-established cooperation mechanisms between China and Russia in Central Asia ensure that their efforts align against external forces attempting to disrupt the region’s stability and development. Experts emphasized that Central Asian countries value their diverse diplomatic engagements, seeking close cooperation with China while maintaining friendly ties with Russia, further underscoring the absence of any contradiction in their motivations.

As the China-Central Asia Summit drew to a close, the accomplishments highlighted the strong foundation of cooperation and mutual trust between China and Central Asian nations. The summit injected fresh vitality into regional development, peace, and stability, setting an example for regional cooperation and fostering positive energy that extends beyond the region’s borders.

In Japan, as G7 leaders gather to address concerns about Chinese economic coercion, another significant summit, the China-Central Asia Summit, is taking place, coinciding in time and sending meaningful signals to the world. The New York Times has characterized the China-Central Asia Summit as China’s proactive response to a US-dominated world order that seeks to contain and suppress China.

While the two summits may have overlapped in timing, Wang Xiaoquan, an expert from the Institute of Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, clarified that the China-Central Asia Summit was not intentionally scheduled to coincide with the G7 summit. High-level leaders’ summits require meticulous preparation well in advance. Nonetheless, the simultaneous occurrence of these summits carries significant implications, reflecting the changing dynamics on the global stage.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, emphasized that China’s cooperation with Central Asian countries does not target any specific third party, nor does it aim to exclude others or engage in bloc politics or Cold War confrontation. Instead, cooperation seeks to establish a fairer, more rational world order that promotes cooperation, peace, and development. Qin stressed that this cooperative approach aligns with the right side of history and civilization, standing alongside the international community in addressing global challenges.

While the G7 discussions revolve around the domination of the world order and the monopolization of the global economy, the China-Central Asia Summit represents the aspirations of developing countries, including China and Central Asian nations, to create a more equitable global order. Wang Xiaoquan highlighted the shared objective of building a fairer and more rational world order, underscoring the commitment of China and Central Asian countries to cooperation, peace, and development.

The China-Central Asia Summit serves as a resolute response to the evolving dynamics of the global landscape. It signals China’s determination to actively shape a new world order based on fairness and inclusivity. By fostering regional cooperation, the summit contributes to the broader goal of promoting peace and development within Central Asia and beyond.

As the G7 deliberates on economic coercion, the China-Central Asia Summit is a testament to China’s commitment to peaceful and mutually beneficial cooperation with Central Asian countries. This collaborative approach transcends geopolitical rivalries and emphasizes nations’ shared interests in fostering a more balanced and harmonious world order.

The China-Central Asia Summit, held in parallel to the G7 discussions, carries significant meaning and sends a powerful message to the world. It highlights China’s determination to counterbalance dominant world orders, promote cooperation, and establish a fairer and more rational global order that fosters peace and development.

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