An update on recent developments in Chinese-Central Asian affairs.
The Chinese Communist Party is ready to help Central Asian states create “a China-Central Asia community of common destiny,” according to the party’s chief propagandist.
The official Xinhua news agency reported that Li Shulei, a CCP Politburo member and head of the Central Committee’s Publicity Department, met on June 12 with “foreign representatives participating in the China-Central Asia Political Party Dialogue.” Xinhua quoted Li as expressing China’s readiness “to cooperate with the political parties of the five countries of Central Asia to implement the important consensus reached by Chinese President Xi Jinping and the leaders of the five states [at the Xi’an Summit in May].”
Under Xi’s leadership, the Chinese political system has become increasingly centralized and rigid, while emphasizing ideology over entrepreneurship.
Central Asian diplomats, according to Xinhua, endorsed the concept of working “together with the CCP to increase the exchange of experience in the field of party and state administration.” Xinhua did not provide a complete list of meeting attendees, although the report did refer to the deputy head of the Kyrgyz legislature and the deputy head of Kazakhstan’s lower house of parliament as being present. Meanwhile, a report published by the Kazakh outlet Liter.kz said that “leaders of 26 political parties from five Central Asian countries” attended the session with Li, and also met with Liu Jianchao, head of the International Relations Department of the CPC Central Committee.
In May, Li held a similar gathering with the heads of news agencies from the five Central Asian states, during which he “outlined common tasks” for mass media in advancing the “common destiny” concept.
Kazakhstan’s trade volume with China is eclipsing that with Russia, and by 2030, it should also surpass that with the European Union, Kazakh Trade Minister Serik Zhumangarin said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg.
It may be that China already occupies the top trade spot for Kazakhstan. Bilateral trade turnover with Russia in 2022 amounted to $26 billion, while the figure stood at $24 billion with China, according to official Kazakh data. Meanwhile, Chinese customs statistics pegged bilateral trade with Kazakhstan at over $31 billion. At the China-Central Asia summit in May, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced that Kazakhstan hoped to increase trade volume with China to $40 billion annually in the near future.
China is helping Kazakhstan bolster its defense posture. Kazakhstan’s Defense Ministry announced June 8 that a Chinese military delegation led by the head of the Academy of Missile Forces of the People’s Liberation Army, Maj. Gen. Lan Ji Ying, met with Kazakh counterparts at the National DefenseUniversity in Astana. The discussions reportedly focused on missile and artillery capabilities, strategy and tactics.
Minister of Agriculture Yerbol Karashukeyev told an economic forum in Astana that additional transnational railway lines are needed with China to “satisfy the large volume of demand that exists in China” for Kazakh goods. The Kursiv news outlet quoted the minister as saying the Khorgos and Alashankou rail crossings were currently handling “up to 10,000 tons of grain cargo per day.” Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s JSC NC Food Corporation has announced it is planning to ship upwards of 200,000 tons of grain to China in 2023.
Details are emerging on the construction of a new Bakhty-Ayagoz railway line connecting Kazakhstan and China. Construction is expected to take place in 2024-2025 and it will feed into the existing Semey-Aktogay section and the China-Europe-China transit corridor. The 270 km route is expected to cost 321 billion tenge (about $713 million) to build, according to a report distributed by LS, citing an official at the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development. Projections suggest the new line will handle up to 8 million tons of goods annually during its first five years of operation.
Uzbekistan is seeking assistance from the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union for construction of two railway projects – the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan route and the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan line. Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov extended the request during talks with his Russian counterpart Mikhail Mishustin, Spot.uz reported on June 9.
Uzbekistan has signed a contract with Chinese conglomerate Huawei to supply key parts for solar power projects, the Uzbek Ministry of Energy announced. The ministry’s press service says Huawai will supply inverters capable of generating 300 MW of power inverters “for the purpose of their installation on buildings and structures of social facilities, government agencies.” The ministry statement did not disclose the value of the deal.
Turkmenistan and the Eurasian Economic Union, which includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Belarus, increased trade by 9.2 percent from January to April 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, the Tass news agency reported.
Source : Eurasianet