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Chinese President Visits Kazakhstan In His First Trip Abroad Since COVID-19 Pandemic

By RFE/RL's Kazakh Service September 14, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Kazakhstan on September 14 on his first trip abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev met Xi at the airport in Nur-Sultan and the two leaders held talks at the Aqorda presidential compound in the Kazakh capital.

Toqaev thanked Xi for choosing Kazakhstan as his first destination abroad since the pandemic, stressing that the Chinese leader's visit was made on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic between the two neighboring nations.

"In this short period of time, we established strong interstate ties. I sincerely thank you for your support of Kazakhstan's economic development and our international initiatives," Toqaev said.

Xi said that China supports Kazakhstan in regional and international matters.

"The Chinese government pays a significant attention to relations with Kazakhstan. No matter how the international priorities could change, we will continue to decisively support Kazakhstan in its defending of its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, firmly support your ongoing reforms to secure stability and development, [and] categorically stand against interference of any forces in your country's internal affairs," Xi said.

Xi is scheduled to leave Kazakhstan for the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan, where he will participate in a summit of the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) scheduled for September 15-16.

The SCO's members are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan.

During the summit he is expected to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time since Russia launched its ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

China has not condemned the invasion but diplomatically supported Moscow's efforts to start talks with Kyiv over what the Kremlin has called "disputed territories" that Russian troops now control.

Before Xi's visit, Kazakh authorities sent at least two activists to jail after they rallied in Nur-Sultan and Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, urging Toqaev to raise the issue of their relatives, who they say are being illegally held in custody in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang, with Xi.

Hours before Xi's visit, Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi told RFE/RL that the issue of ethnic Kazakhs held in custody in Xinjiang will not be raised at the Toqaev-Xi talks.

In late August, the United Nations issued a report saying China may have committed crimes against humanity in Xinjiang by "appalling treatment" of the region's indigenous people, including Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other mostly Turkic-speaking Muslim ethnic groups.

The report by outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet authoritatively cited "arbitrary and discriminatory detention" of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang.

China says the camps are necessary to curb terrorism, separatism, and religious radicalism.

Kazakhs are the second-largest indigenous community in Xinjiang after Uyghurs. The region is also home to ethnic Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Hui, also known as Dungans.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/chinese-president- visits-kazakhstan-/32033879.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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