China and Central Asia Forge New Era of Cooperation through Visa-Free Travel, Investment, and Summits.

China is focusing its efforts on Central Asia as its economy reopens and diplomatic activity resumes after three years of COVID-19 restrictions. Chinese leader Xi Jinping will hold Beijing’s first in-person summit with Central Asian leaders on May 18-19 in Xi’an, signalling China’s intention to build on recent progress in establishing visa-free travel deals with regional governments. China views Central Asia as integral to its long-term economic strategy for Eurasia and a way to normalise the situation in its western Xinjiang Province. The province alone accounts for 40 percent of total Chinese-Kazakh trade and China’s economic footprint in Central Asia is growing, despite setbacks caused by the pandemic. Central Asian governments are looking to increase trade links with neighbouring Xinjiang and take advantage of opportunities arising from China’s Belt and Road Initiative.


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