News Digest: Foreign Media on Kazakhstan-China Relations, Shymkent Oil Refinery, Singapore President Halimah Yacob’s Visit to Kazakhstan, and More

ASTANA – The Astana Times has picked a selection of articles on Kazakhstan featured in international media this week. This week’s foreign media digest covers the Kazakh-Chinese partnership and joint projects, Kazakhstan-European Union strategic cooperation, Singapore President Halimah Yacob’s visit to Kazakhstan, and an interview with the Chairwoman of the Kazakh National Center of Public Health.

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Kazakh leader calls for Eurasian Economic Union to strengthen cooperation with international organizations

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Thursday called for the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) to strengthen its economic and trade cooperation with international and regional organizations focused on the Asian continent, reported Cuba-based La Prensa Latina on May 25.

“We should qualitatively strengthen our relations with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Mercosur, and other international organizations,” he said during the EAEU summit’s plenary session, consisting of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and the Kyrgyz Republic.

“One of the key objectives of creating the EAEU was to obtain the most favorable trade conditions from third countries based on a strong and coordinated joint position,” he added. 

Cooperation with China based on ‘unshakable friendship,’ says Kazakhstan

Anadolu Agency, a Turkish media outlet, published an article on May 17 covering the recent visit of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to China.

“For Kazakhstan, China is of particular importance. Our cooperation is based on unshakable friendship and mutual support. We have a common goal – to intensify bilateral relations,” the article quotes Tokayev, who met with President of China Xi Jinping.

Beijing and Astana discussed “developing comprehensive cooperation in trade, economic, oil and gas, petrochemical, energy, financial, transport and transit sectors, education and science. There was also an exchange of views on issues of the international and regional agenda.”

EU and Kazakhstan to develop strategic projects in raw materials, batteries, and renewable hydrogen

The Diplomat Bucharest published an article on May 19 on the announcement by Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov and Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis on behalf of the European Commission on a set of concrete actions to implement the memorandum of understanding between the EU and Kazakhstan on a strategic partnership in raw materials, batteries, and renewable hydrogen.

“As foreseen in the memorandum, the operational partnership roadmap has been agreed and endorsed for 2023-2024. The roadmap reflects current needs, such as the modernization and decarbonization of the Kazakh mining industry. It also includes technology transfers and supports the development of renewable energy in both regions, essential to address the climate crisis,” the article says.

On June 1-2, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič will meet Smailov and Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Marat Karabayev on the margins of the 13th International Astana Mining and Metallurgy Congress to begin the practical implementation of the roadmap and to meet business leaders on both sides.

Kazakhstan plans to expand the production capacity of the Shymkent oil refinery

Kazakhstan plans to increase the production capacity of the Shymkent oil refinery from 6 million tons to 12 million tons per year, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said at the Central Asia-China Summit in Xian, Azernews reported on May 21.

He noted significant potential for cooperation in the energy sector, particularly in the oil and gas sector.

“Moreover, he also said that as part of increasing Kazakh oil exports, the country plans to increase the capacity of the Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline. The issues of increasing the capacity of the existing Atyrau-Kenkiyak and Kenkiyak-Kumkol oil pipelines are also on the agenda,” the article concludes.

Singapore and Kazakhstan sign four agreements, including to boost economic cooperation

The Business Times, a Singaporean financial newspaper, published an article on May 22 covering the meeting between Singapore President Halimah Yacob and President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Astana.

“The legally binding agreement offers mutual benefits for businesses from both countries, which in turn will generate opportunities in a range of sectors, said Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry on Monday,” the article notes.

It will allow Singapore companies seamless access to more than 15 service sectors in Kazakhstan, such as specialized medical services, dental, interior design, urban planning, and engineering.

Art by Kazakh painter Karipbek Kuyukov shown in Hiroshima ahead of summit

The Mainichi, Japan’s national daily newspaper, released an article on May 20 on the exhibition by Karipbek Kuyukov, a Kazakh artist born without arms as a result of exposure to radiation from Soviet nuclear testing in Kazakhstan, at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum ahead of the Group of Seven Hiroshima summit.

The exhibition marked the painter’s fourth visit to Japan. Kuyukov, 54, was born in a village approximately 100 kilometers from the Semipalatinsk Test Site in eastern Kazakhstan, where the Soviet Union conducted 456 nuclear tests between 1949 and 1989. He has been drawing since elementary school, holding a paintbrush in his mouth or between his toes. As a hibakusha, a Japanese term for surviving victims of the atomic bombs which fell on Hiroshima and Nagasakihe, wishes for a world without nuclear weapons and hopes to be one of the last victims, according to the article.

Wimbledon champion Rybakina wins Italian Open

The Associated Press, a U.S. news agency, released an article on May 20 on Kazakh tennis player Elena Rybakina’s win at the Italian Open, writing that she is discovering that her big serve and heavy groundstrokes can damage clay courts, too. 

The Wimbledon champion was dominating the final when Ukrainian opponent Anhelina Kalinina retired due to a left thigh injury in the second set of the rain-delayed Italian Open final.

“I can play good on all the surfaces,” Rybakina said. “It is just maybe for clay. I need to be ready more physically and maybe have a lot of preparation.”

It has been quite a year for Rybakina, who reached the final of the Australian Open, also won an elite title in Indian Wells, and was the runner-up in Miami, the article reads.

Kazakhstan’s plan to reduce salt intake are not in conflict with business interests

The World Health Organization released an interview with Zhanar Kalmakova, Board Chairwoman of the National Center of Public Health at the Ministry of Healthcare on May 17, focusing on the nation’s excessive salt intake and government’s policy to reduce consumption of salt, sugar, and trans fats.

“In Kazakhstan, where salt is an essential ingredient in many traditional dishes, doctors have raised concerns over the high levels of hypertension and strokes caused by excessive salt intake. Currently, cardiovascular disease is the main driver of premature deaths in the country, resulting in more than 42,000 deaths each year – and high salt intake is a major contributing factor,” reads the article.

China-Central Asia Summit: China and Kazakhstan deepen infrastructure cooperation in the pivotal Silk Road hub of Almaty

China Global Television Network (CGTN), the international division of state media outlet China Central Television (CCTV), published an article on May 22 about Kazakh-Chinese joint projects, notably Asia Steel Pipe Corporation.

“Asia Steel Pipe Corporation is a collaboration between KazMunayGas and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to produce 100,000 tons of large-diameter steel pipes annually,” the article notes.

This large industrial facility is located in Almaty’s industrial zone of Alatau and has created more than 300 permanent jobs.

According to the Kazakh Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development, this $73.5 million project will reduce the country’s need to import pipe products by 70%.

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