A freight train departs from Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, on December 6. Traveling via Kazakhstan, it is scheduled to reach Moscow in 11 days (XINHUA)
Kazakhstan will continue to promote comprehensive cooperation with China amid the changing world situation, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Chairman of the Kazakh Senate, said in Beijing on December 6.
"In docking with the China-proposed initiative of building the Silk Road Economic Belt, Kazakhstan's state program of infrastructure development for 2015-19 has achieved remarkable progress so far," Tokayev said in a speech at the China Institute of International Studies.
At the invitation of Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, Tokayev paid an official visit to Beijing on December 5-7.
The two legislative body leaders pledged to further enhance parliamentary cooperation.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence. In January 2017, it will be 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The friendship between the two countries has been forged solidly over the past 25 years, for the two peoples enjoy common interests and development paths, Tokayev told an audience which included Chinese researchers, diplomats from Kazakhstan, Russia and Tajikistan, and former ambassadors of China to Kazakhstan.
"Currently, new large-scale projects reaching far beyond bilateral Kazakhstan-China relations are being implemented under the patronage of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and President Xi Jinping," Tokayev said.
It was during his state visit to Astana in 2013 that Xi for the first time proposed building the Silk Road Economic Belt together with countries along the ancient Silk Road routes. The proposal was welcomed by Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries.
"Kazakhstan is committed to fully implementing this mega project on its territory by synchronizing it with its national programs and the integration programs of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU)," Tokayev said.
The EEU is a trade bloc consisting of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia. It came into existence in 2015, marking a milestone in economic integration for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.
In response to questions about the EEU, Tokayev said, "Any new regional trade arrangement inevitably faces many challenges at the beginning."
"The EEU is a bloc for economic integration. So, its members must address their economic problems first of all."
Participating in the initiative of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will bring Kazakhstan an opportunity to use its geographically advantageous position, Tokayev said.
"Kazakhstan will further develop as a transportation and logistics hub to play a significant role in linking Europe and Asia," the senate chairman said.
According to Tokayev, the consensus reached by the two countries on implementing a total of 51 projects, valued at more than $26 billion over the next five years, will promote Kazakhstan's industrial development and scientific and technological innovation.
The close relations have also boosted people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. Currently, around 11,000 Kazakh students are studying in China, and the number continues to increase, Tokayev said.
In addition to economic cooperation, Kazakhstan and China have worked together in regional mechanisms, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, Tokayev stressed.
China's growing role in maintaining international peace and security has been recognized worldwide. Kazakhstan supports China's stance over the South China Sea issue and acknowledges the one-China policy, Tokayev said.
As for the ramifications of the recent U.S. presidential election, Tokayev said that the trend toward a multipolar world will not change.
Kazakhstan has been elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, with a two-year term from 2017 to 2018, after a vote during the 70th UN General Assembly on June 28.
Tokayev said that Kazakhstan will spare no effort to play its role in international affairs under the UN framework, promoting dialogue and negotiation on the Syrian conflict and the Ukraine issue.
Copyedited by Chris Surtees
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