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China-Central Asia Summit Marks ‘New Historic Milestone’

May 19, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—At the conclusion of the first ever China-Central Asia Summit held on May 18-19, Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Presidents of the five Central Asian countries planted six pomegranate trees. According to a May 20 editorial in the Global Times, that act “symbolizes close solidarity and cooperation between the two sides and reflects the expectations of a better future for China-Central Asia relations.” The vibrant China-Central Asia cooperation is setting off rapidly once again from the starting point of the ancient Silk Road, according to the editorial.

Global Times described the first China-Central Asia Summit as a “new historic milestone.” During the event held in Xi’an, the historic city along the ancient Silk Road, China and the five Central Asian countries signed seven bilateral and multilateral documents, including the Xi’an Declaration of the China-Central Asia Summit and the List of Outcomes of the China-Central Asia Summit, as well as more than 100 cooperation agreements in various fields.

Global Times’ editors write:

“What has caused the strongest resonance during the summit is ‘common destiny.’ The building of a China-Central Asia community with a shared future was formally written in the Xi’an Declaration. China has also announced building a community with a shared future with five Central Asian countries at the bilateral level, which is the first time that the concept of a community with a shared future has been fully implemented at the multilateral and bilateral levels in the region.”

One of the themes taken up at the summit in Xi’an was the promotion of mutual benefits rather than zero-sum games in this regional integration. There were discussions of the fact that Central Asia has been a playground for foreign intervention, such as “color revolutions,” most recently in Kazakhstan in early 2022. According to the Global Times account of the summit, it was expressed that “China genuinely seeks development and cooperation and respects regional countries’ sovereign status and autonomous integration processes.”

Xi Jinping’s keynote speech at the summit noted that the world needs a stable, prosperous, harmonious, and interconnected Central Asia, and that China will be its strongest supporter. Global Times noted that some foreign media outlets falsely claimed that the summit “‘reflected Beijing’s efforts to develop trade and security networks centered on China.’ ” The editorial continued, “if there is any center, it is a trade and security network centered around common development and universal security,” and went on to describe the relationship between China and Central Asian countries to be six countries that are “united closely like pomegranate seeds.”

Noting the reality that the Central Asian countries are landlocked, which used to be considered as a constraint for their economic development, the editorial said that through cooperation with China, “this geographical disadvantage has been transformed into a golden gateway connecting Europe and East Asia, turning their weakness into an advantage.” In that context, these nations “welcome the involvement of Russia, European countries, and even the U.S.,” reports Global Times. The editorial then goes on to dispel the myth of geopolitical rivalry in the region, and notes that in recent years there has been “increasing cooperation between China and Russia in the Central Asian region, which has become a trend and effectively debunked malicious instigations by the West claiming that ‘China and Russia are competing for spheres of influence.’ ”

The editorial concludes:

“The experience of the China-Central Asia community with a shared future in achieving universal security and common development serves as a model and inspiration for the entire world.”

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