President Xi Jinping (center) and leaders attending the China-Central Asia Summit head to a welcome banquet on Thursday evening at Tang Paradise in Xi'an, Shaanxi province. President Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, hosted a welcome ceremony and banquet on Thursday for the Central Asian presidents and their wives. After the banquet, Xi, Peng and the guests watched an artistic performance to mark the opening of the year of culture and art of the peoples of China and Central Asia as well as the China-Central Asia youth arts festival. HUANG JINGWEN/XINHUA
As the inaugural China-Central Asia Summit drew to a close in Xi'an in northwest China's Shaanxi Province on Friday, overseas media and individuals hailed the gathering as a milestone in developing deeper cooperation in the region, as well as a major action towards building a closer community of shared future between China and Central Asia.
Chaired by China's president Xi Jinping, the two-day summit held in the historic Silk Road city of Xi'an was attended by the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. They expressed confidence and determination to boost cooperation with China, and voiced their support for the China-proposed initiatives on global development, security and civilization.
Meanwhile, ambassadors, think tanks and media worldwide have expressed their confidence in the beneficial outcomes of this summit, as it is projected to inject more positive energy into world and regional peace, stability, development and prosperity.
Among the five Central Asian countries, China and Kyrgyzstan share a border of over a thousand kilometers, and people of the two countries have been interacting with each other since the days of the great ancient Silk Road, according to Aktilek Musaeva, Kyrgyz ambassador to China.
In an interview with CGTN, Musaeva said that Xi's call for building a community with a shared future for mankind "deserves to be supported through concrete economic and cultural projects."
"So we understand the initiative as it closely relates to us," she said.
Adil Kaukenov, a research fellow from the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (KazISS), said that the China-Central Asia Summit is a "major event" and holds great significance in the development of bilateral relations.
Selcuk Colakoglu, the director of the Ankara-based Turkish Center for Asia-Pacific Studies, has long been focused on China's relations with the Central Asian countries. He said that the summit is a milestone in guiding new perspectives and policies in the post-pandemic world and further strengthening cooperation.
An article published on Brazil's Forum magazine website pointed out that the meeting is considered a milestone in high-level interactions between leaders of China and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
It also highlighted Xi's address at the virtual summit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the Central Asian countries in January 2022 – that "the key to the successful cooperation between China and the five Central Asian countries over the past three decades lies in our enduring commitment to mutual respect, good-neighborly friendship, solidarity in difficult times and mutual benefit."
Deepening cooperation for development
China and the Central Asian countries will take the 10th anniversary of Belt and Road cooperation as a new starting point and make efforts to build better synergy among development strategies to form a new cooperation paradigm featuring high-level complementarity and mutual benefit, Xi said Friday when meeting the press following the successful conclusion of the inaugural China-Central Asia Summit.
China's trade with the five countries reached $70 billion in 2022, up over 100 times since diplomatic ties were established. The trade structure has improved over the years. Last year, China's imports of agricultural, energy and mineral products from the five countries jumped over 50 percent from a year earlier, while exports of mechanical and electronic products to them increased by 42 percent.
Serik Korzhumbayev, editor-in-chief of the Delovoy Kazakhstan newspaper, a leading Kazakh publication, reported on the two-day summit. He believes that the event will help open up a new chapter for the region, delivering broader prospects for cooperation between China and Central Asia, and pointed to the proposals for the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway as an example of the strong cooperation potential that exists between all sides.
"I would say the cooperation between China and five Central Asian countries is very important. They will enhance mutual trust in politics and in the economy and build closer connections." Korzhumbayev told China Media Group.
"Kazakhstan's neighbors, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, also have an ambitious plan. They are working on a new logistics route, which is the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway. I think the summit will touch on these important topics as the leaders of six countries gather here for this historical event," he said.