ASTANA, Kazakhstan: Chinese President Xi Jinping met his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana Thursday, pledging to further a partnership buoyed by agreements for billions of dollars of Chinese investment in the energy-rich Central Asian state.
Calling Kazakhstan “our big friend”, President Xi once again congratulated 74-year-old strongman Nazarbayev on his landslide victory in a one-sided presidential vote in April.
“Pushing through with multifaceted cooperation, our two countries have become important constructive forces to ensure stability and development in the region,” said Xi in comments translated into Russian.
While no deals were announced at the meeting, Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov in March signed over $23 billion worth of agreements during a visit to Beijing to meet his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang.
The deals, mainly investments in Kazakhstan’s industrial sector, appeared to offer further confirmation that China has taken over Russia’s one-time role as the dominant economic force in the territorially vast country.
Nazarbayev noted that friendly relations with Kazakhstan’s giant eastern neighbor was a “priority” for his country.
“We have a plan, and we have outlined specific actions that will take Kazakh-Chinese relations to a new level,” he said.
Nazarbayev’s country remains tightly tied to Moscow via the Eurasian Economic Union trade bloc but the autocratic leader is also a strong supporter of Beijing’s Silk Road Economic Belt vision of Chinese investments in communications and infrastructure designed to power overland trade between Beijing, the Middle East and Europe.
Both Xi and Nazarbayev will attend a military parade in Moscow on Saturday to mark the 70th anniversary of Soviet victory over the Nazis, an event key Western leaders are boycotting in protest at Russia’s policies towards Ukraine.
During the meeting with Xi, Nazarbayev also confirmed his attendance at China’s own celebrations of victory in World War II, which will take place in September this year.