Chinese President Xi Jinping, together with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, signs the Xi'an Declaration of the China-Central Asia Summit in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi province, May 19, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
HONG KONG/ALMATY/BRUSSELS – The China-Central Asia Summit has not only brought China and the five Central Asian countries closer to each other in economic, trade and cultural relations, it will also reinvigorate the ancient Silk Road by way of further promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, international experts say.
Khalid Taimur Akram, executive director of the Pakistan Research Center for a Community with Shared Future, Islamabad, said the summit represents an outstanding example of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s commitment to diplomatic endeavors and global leadership.
China accorded significant importance to the May 18-19 summit as it would help bolster ties, promote collaboration, and advance peace and development in the region, according to him.
“It is noteworthy to say that President Xi's progressive measures are firm and solid, proving him to be a great statesman,” Akram said, adding that Xi “adhered to the goals of forming a unified international community and boosting high-level diplomacy”.
China has now become an important partner in trade and economic cooperation of the five countries.
Tursunali Kuziev, Professor, Journalism and Mass Communications University of Uzbekistan
He noted that President Xi wants to see a dynamic and prosperous Central Asia that will support people in the region in realizing their aspirations for a better life and provide a significant boost to global economic recovery.
Akram also observed that the China-Central Asia Summit hopes to revive the old trade routes and advance contemporary economic and commercial cooperation. Xi'an city represents the historical interactions and thriving commercial activity along the Silk Road as it was the starting point of the historic trade route, the Pakistani expert said.
SL Kanthan, a geopolitical analyst based in Bengaluru, India, reminded that more than 2,000 years ago, Xi’an — which was formerly known as Chang’an — was the origin of the famed Silk Road, which linked Chinese merchants to those in Central Asia, Persia and the Roman Empire.
According to him, the Ancient Silk Road could be viewed as the genesis of globalization and free trade, and its contemporary version is the BRI, the largest infrastructure project in human history.
“Obviously, the Central Asian countries are pivotal to BRI, since they act as China’s gateway to the Middle East and beyond to Europe,” the analyst added.
Shavkat Alimbekov, a researcher at the International Institute for Central Asia in Uzbekistan, said the forum would outline a new plan for the development of mutually beneficial relations for the future, and open a new era of cooperation.
He added the summit will help deepen strategic mutual trust between China and the Central Asian countries, which are friendly neighbors and strategic partners.
"One of the key aspects of this cooperation is the Green Silk Road program, which focuses on using green development strategies, innovative solutions and advanced technologies to achieve environmental efficiency and sustainability," Alimbekov said.
Serik Korzhumbayev, editor-in-chief of the Kazakh newspaper DKNews, said he believes the summit will enhance long-term cooperation and development across multiple fields between the six countries, and that "a new format of cooperation will make it possible to involve the Central Asian region with China's large market in close economic ties".
Chinese President Xi Jinping, together with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, walks to meet the press following the successful conclusion of the China-Central Asia Summit in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi province, May 19, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
"China has now become an important partner in trade and economic cooperation of the five countries," said Tursunali Kuziev, a professor at the Journalism and Mass Communications University of Uzbekistan, adding that innovation and exchanges in agricultural sciences have constantly pushed forward common progress in this field.
Obviously, the Central Asian countries are pivotal to BRI, since they act as China’s gateway to the Middle East and beyond to Europe.
SL Kanthan, Geopolitical analyst, Bengaluru, India
Sheradil Baktygulov, a foreign affairs consultant with the Kyrgyz National Institute for Strategic Studies, said China deserves great respect and support for contributing to peace, friendship and cooperation in Central Asia and for advocating mutually beneficial cooperation and peaceful development among all countries.
Nikolai Podguzov, chairman of the Eurasian Development Bank’s management board, said China, as a global leader, is very important to the entire Central Asian region. China has realized the importance of cooperation with Central Asia nations, as well as the countries’ potential, he said.
Central Asia is a fast-developing region, which has vowed to tap into energy efficiency, connectivity, food production, and other industries. The summit in Xi’an will help address global and regional problems, boost mutual economic benefits, and strengthen cooperation both in the region and all over the world, Podguzov said.
Mominul Islam, chief executive of Bangladesh-based IPDC Finance Ltd and the newly-elected chairman of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP), said China’s ambitious BRI has brought opportunities to Central Asia.
The summit has significant meaning for the region, given the participation of the top leaders of all the five Central Asian nations, Islam said in remarks made during the ADFIAP’s annual meetings in Almaty, Kazakhstan, earlier this month.
The cooperation has growing fast, he said, adding that deeper connections can expected in various fields.
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