ASTANA – President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev starts his state visit to China on May 17. He is expected to take part in the China – Central Asia summit with other heads of Central Asian states attending the event in Xian, one of China’s most ancient cities. Strengthening regional economic ties will be the main subject of discussions, senior expert of the Institute of World Economy and Politics (IWEP) Yersultan Zhanseitov said in an interview for this story.
Zhanseitov added he would expect breakthrough agreements during the summit in sectors such as transport and logistics, trade and energy.
Answering the question about the nature of bilateral cooperation between Kazakhstan and China, Zhanseitov highlighted its historically benevolent character.
“We have a long history of cooperation with China. In the current times, when the geopolitical situation in Eurasia and in the world is changing, Kazakhstan will be upgrading its national strategy towards China. We should clearly understand what we want from China. And what are the Chinese interests as well? So both of them should match and be on the same page,” Zhanseitov said.
Zhanseitov also mentioned the state visit of Xi Jinping to Kazakhstan in September 2022, the first foreign trip the Chinese leader took since the onset of the pandemic. According to an IWEP expert, it showed the importance of Kazakhstan for China in this region.
This time, according to Zhanseitov, leaders of Kazakhstan and China will discuss the current status quo as well as prospects for deepening partnerships in different sectors of the economy with a focus on easing business cooperation. The visa-free regime can be very helpful for businesses in Kazakhstan, Zhanseitov added.
“China is a big destination for our business and tourism, especially Xinjiang. Many small and medium-sized businesses are working with China buying different products there. Facilitating entrances can help stabilize Kazakhstan’s current economic situation in terms of easing inflation as well because this has a lot to do with the situation on the Kazakh-Chinese border. The jams there affect the inner price in Kazakhstan severely and if the transportation corridors are open for Kazakh citizens, Kazakhstan will not be facing all those negative kinds of consequences too hard,” Zhanseitov said.
China will remain Kazakhstan’s key partner in the region, the expert said, adding that China, in the long term, will be paying more attention to Central Asia.