Neighbors, partners and friends
Editorial  ·  2023-05-19  ·   Source: NO.21 MAY 25, 2023

At the China-Central Asia Summit on May 18-19 in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, leaders exchanged views on institution building, cooperation and major international and regional issues, drawing a new blueprint for China-Central Asia relations.

This is the first time the heads of state of the six nations have met face to face since China established diplomatic relations with the five Central Asian countries 31 years ago. Over the years, China and Central Asian countries have exemplified a new model of international relations through mutual respect, good-neighborly friendship, solidarity and win-win cooperation.

The summit was held in a year that marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative. During his visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt, part of the Belt and Road Initiative, which also includes the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. Xi'an is the starting point of the overland Silk Road, which stretched from there to connect China with Central Asia and beyond.

The gathering of the leaders of the six countries in Xi'an, which served as the capital city of several Chinese dynasties, including the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) when the Silk Road was first explored, was therefore highly symbolic. Xi'an is now a major hub of the Belt and Road Initiative. Goods from across China and many participating countries are transported via the city through the China-Europe freight train service, one of the initiative's signature programs. 

Thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative, China and the five Central Asian countries have become closer in economic and trade relations. In 2022, trade between China and these five countries reached a record high of $70.2 billion, a year-on-year increase of 40 percent. China's imports of farm produce, energy products and mineral products from Central Asian countries all increased more than 50 percent. Its exports of machinery and electronic products to these countries surged 42 percent. The value of cross-border e-commerce between China and Central Asia soared 95 percent.

Agreements reached at the Xi'an summit show China and the five Central Asian nations will continue to deepen cooperation, with results benefiting the people in all of these countries.

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