China-Central Asia relations enter new era after Xi'an summit: international observers
Published: May 19, 2023 08:09 PM
An installation for the China-Central Asia Summit in both Chinese and Russian sits outside the press center of the summit in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province on May 16, 2023. The summit takes place on May 18 and 19. Photo: Xinhua

An installation for the China-Central Asia Summit in both Chinese and Russian sits outside the press center of the summit in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province on May 16, 2023. The summit takes place on May 18 and 19. Photo: Xinhua

Editor's Note:

The China-Central Asia Summit in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, ended on Friday. "The China-Central Asia relationship is steeped in history, driven by broad actual needs, and built on solid popular support. Our relations are brimming with vigor and vitality in the new era," said Chinese President Xi Jinping in his keynote speech during the event. How do foreign experts evaluate this summit? What role will it play in the further development of China-Central Asia ties? Global Times asked former officials and scholars of Central Asian countries and Russia about their views on the summit, as well as their understanding of China-Central Asia relations.

Djoomart Otorbaev, former prime minister of the Kyrgyz Republic and a Non-resident Senior Fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China

I think that during the 30 years of our diplomatic relationship, the key is that we established trust between our countries. We work continuously with each other without any problems. So the time was not wasted: We understand each other better and the structures of our economy better. We know about the China-launched Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative. We also want to be part of these global initiatives so that the region will be more harmonious with security, peace, and mutually beneficial activities together. On our horizons, we have much more ambitious projects between each other. And what's happening is that now we're going to go to the next step of our cooperation.

Denis Berdakov, head of the "Elchi" Institute of Social-Political Research in Kyrgyzstan

The China-Central Asia Summit in Xi'an is a new platform in the international arena and will open a new chapter in the history of cooperation between the six countries. For the countries of Central Asia, it is very important that China puts forward the idea of global partnership at the world and regional levels based on the understanding that "joint development is real development, sustainable development is high-quality development." And China focuses on the fact that the results should be aimed at obtaining a win-win. China aims to strengthen all-round diplomacy and move from bilateral to multilateral relations, advocating all-round development and partnerships around the world. In this regard, the China-Central Asia Summit can be regarded as a logical step toward creating a belt of stability in Central Eurasia.

Kairat Batyrbayev, Executive Director of the Eurasian International Studies Association

It is expected that the summit of the heads of state of China and Central Asian countries will be important and bring significant results. The main purpose of the summit is to discuss and strengthen cooperation between China and the Central Asian countries, as well as to form a common understanding of the future steps and development of relations, especially in the context of the changing geopolitical situation in the world related to the Ukraine crisis. In general, it is believed that the C+C5 platform is a more effective mechanism for the development of relations between China and Central Asia.

Timofei Bordachev, a program director of the Moscow-based Valdai Discussion Club

China and Russia are equally interested in the stability of Central Asia simply because they are directly neighboring most of the states located in this part of Eurasia. The common task of China and Russia is to make their friends and neighbors in Central Asia stable and relatively prosperous in today's turbulent times. Those who want stability in Central Asia believe in the general openness of the market economy and have a sincere desire to ensure security and development in this important part of Eurasia. One would expect that the Xi'an summit will open a new page in China-Central Asia relations and bring good news for all neighbors of this important region.

Sergey Biryukov, a professor at the Siberian Institute of Management in Novosibirsk, Russia

The Xi'an summit will be of great significance. The Central Asian nations, accepting China's proposal to turn the region into a new powerful center of economic growth, can return in a new capacity to the same role that they successfully performed two millennia ago: the role of a link between trade routes from East to West and vice versa. Such a role of the Central Asian countries is in demand today. The China-Central Asia Summit can rely on the established and successfully functioning mechanisms of inter-country and interregional cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. It acts as a structure that could unite and consolidate a diverse world, confirming its declarations and plans with regular practical work.