Xi Jinping, the president of China, travels to Kazakhstan before the SCO summit

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Xi Jinping, the president of China, travels to Kazakhstan before the SCO summit
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at a meeting commending role models of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China April 8, 2022. REUTERS/Florence Lo – RC2RIT993BUJ

In preparation for a conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other leaders of a Central Asian security group, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a detour in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, the first foreign travel he has taken since the pandemic’s emergence.

As the governing Communist Party advances its strategic objectives amid conflict with Washington, Japan, and India, Xi’s tour highlights the significance Beijing places on relations with Russia and Central Asia.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and an honour guard greeted Xi on the airport runway as he was dressed in a blue suit and a face mask.

The two leaders would address the energy markets and the crisis in the world economy, according to Tokayev’s government. Kazakhstan, a nation with a limited population of 19.4 million and vast grasslands, is a significant oil and gas producer. China is a significant client.

In order to attend the summit of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is co-chaired by China and Russia, Xi is scheduled to fly to Samarkand in neighbouring Uzbekistan on Thursday.

Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and India are other SCO nations. Iran and Afghanistan are two of the observers.

The Chinese leader is advocating a “Global Security Initiative” that was unveiled in April in response to Beijing’s more assertive foreign policy and the formation of the Quad by Washington, Japan, Australia, and India. Although Xi has provided few details, U.S. officials have expressed concern that they are similar to Russian justifications for Moscow’s invasion on Ukraine.

According to Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy advisor, Xi and Putin intend to meet privately and talk about Ukraine.

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