Chinese President Xi Jinping has hailed a two-day summit with leaders of the Central Asian countries as ushering in a “new era” of relations.
The Chinese leader made the comments on May 18 while addressing a welcome banquet for Central Asian leaders attending the China-Central Asia Summit, as Beijing strives to expand its reach into a strategically vital region that has long been perceived as Russia’s sphere of influence.
As Moscow’s influence seems to have been weakened in Central Asia following the war in Ukraine, Beijing hopes to deepen relations with the region through the summit, which ran from May 18 to 19 in the northwestern ancient Chinese city of Xi’an.
Xi’an is the historic eastern end of the Silk Road, a network of Eurasian trade routes active from the second century BCE until the mid-15th century, that linked China to Europe through Central Asia.
“I am confident that with our joint efforts, tomorrow’s summit will be a full success and will herald a new era of China-Central Asia relations,” Xi said, adding that strengthening ties was a “strategic choice.”
“Join us in opening up a bright future of China-Central Asia cooperation,” he further said, adding that he believes that the summit, which is of “milestone significance,” will be “a complete success.”
Visiting leaders include Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyzstan’s President Sadyr Japarov, Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, Turkmenistan’s President Serdar Berdimuhamedov and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan.
The two-day event brought together leaders of these countries for the first in-person meeting with a Chinese president since they established diplomatic relations after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Beijing says trade with the five Central Asian countries reached $70 billion in 2022 and expanded 22 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023.
China to Japan: Get balanced grasp of China-related issues at G7
Separately on May 18, China’s embassy in Japan urged Tokyo in a statement to avoid “negative” China-related moves at the G7 Summit, hosted by Japan, and not to turn it into a “political show” against or to curb China.
Yang Yu, interim charge d’affaires of the Chinese embassy in Tokyo, further said that Tokyo should push for a balanced grasp of China-related issues at the summit to prevent greater obstacles and shocks to Sino-Japanese relations.
The G7 is an intergovernmental political forum consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The European Union (EU) is a “non-enumerated member.” (PressTV.ir)