Foreign and Military Affairs

Hu's visit to strengthen Kazakh ties

By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-06-13 08:51
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Hu's visit to strengthen Kazakh ties
Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) is greeted by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev upon his arrival at the airport VIP room in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, June 12, 2011. Hu Jintao arrived in Astana Sunday for a state visit and an annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). [Photo/Xinhua]

ASTANA, Kazakhstan - President Hu Jintao arrived in the capital of Kazakhstan on Sunday afternoon for his third state visit to the Central Asian neighbor in the past year-and-a-half, with a number of cooperation agreements expected to be signed.

Despite the summer heat, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev came to the airport to personally welcome Hu to the country, a sign of the firm friendship between the two countries.

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In a written speech issued on Hu's arrival, he said that in his meetings with Kazakh leaders he would discuss both regional and international issues, as well as bilateral ties.

Hu said his visit would help elevate the strategic partnership established in 2005 between the two countries.

Diplomatic sources said a joint political document would be released, and economic and environmental cooperation agreements would be signed during Hu's visit.

It is Hu's first state visit to the country since Nazarbayev - who has led the country for more than 20 years - won April's presidential election.

In a written interview with Kazakh and Russian media prior to his departure, Hu said China and Kazakhstan have given firm support to each other, and have cooperated effectively in cracking down on the "three evil forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism, as well as transnational organized crime.

Sino-Kazakh bilateral trade reached $20.4 billion in 2010, 50 times the trade volume during the early years of the two countries' diplomatic relationship in the 1990s.

"China is going to enhance practical cooperation in the economy, trade, energy and other areas while increasing multilateral coordination and security cooperation with Kazakhstan," Hu said.

Experts said that the progress in bilateral ties has benefited both sides politically and economically.

"Kazakhstan is geopolitically important in Central Asia, and is a stabilizing force in the often-turbulent region," said Ji Zhiye, deputy dean of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

Ji added that there are broad prospects for cooperation between China and Kazakhstan in the fields of politics, security, energy, infrastructure and telecommunications, and within such multilateral frameworks as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the United Nations.

"China has a close and comprehensive relationship with Kazakhstan, and hopes this will become a regional model," Ji said.

J. Makasheva, a professor of regional studies and the world economy at Kazakhstan's Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, said both countries were important players in the SCO and the region.

Besides the development of cooperation in traditional fields, both countries saw new growth in cooperation in the non-resources field, Makasheva told Xinhua News Agency in a recent interview.

She added that, as a close neighbor of China, Kazakhstan could develop itself drawing support from China's competitive industries, benefiting both nations. Kazakhstan will be the first leg of Hu's nine-day visit to three countries. In Astana, he will also attend the annual SCO summit.

Following Kazakhstan, Hu will pay state visits to Russia and Ukraine, and attend an economic forum in St. Petersburg.

Cui Haipei and Xinhua contributed to this story.