BEIJING — Premier Li Keqiang is scheduled to arrive in Kazakhstan later Nov 3 for the third regular meeting between the two countries’ premiers and an official visit.
The trip, also marking the second time that the Premier visits the central Asian country as Chinese premier, is widely expected to further boost bilateral ties and strengthen cooperation in trade, connectivity, industry and many other areas.
“Premier Li’s visit will certainly infuse strong momentum into the bilateral relations and cooperation in all areas,” Zhang Hanhui, Chinese ambassador to Kazakhstan, wrote in an article prior to the visit.
In the past three years since President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative during a state visit to Kazakhstan, the two countries have been actively promoting the realignment of their development strategies and achieved substantial results.
Several key connectivity projects are already contributing to the growth of bilateral and regional trade, making daily life more convenient for many local residents.
The China-Kazakhstan logistics base in China’s coastal city of Lianyungang and the Khorgos-East Gate Special Economic Zone now play a pivotal role in connecting East Asia with Central Asia and Europe, offering an attractive alternative for the flow of trade between the three regions.
Moreover, progress is well underway for the Kazak section of the “Western Europe-Western China” trans-regional highway, an artery road project that links dozens of cities in China, Kazakhstan and Russia.
“The effective cooperation between China and Kazakhstan is not only accelerating the modernization of the Silk Road, but also playing an increasingly important role in cross-border cooperation in Eurasia,” the Chinese ambassador said in his article.
Meanwhile, industry capacity cooperation between the two countries has been making steady progress and shows enormous potential. According to the Chinese Embassy in Kazakhstan, the two countries have reached preliminary agreements on 51 cooperation projects, with a total investment of $26 billion.
Cooperation in the e-commerce area is thriving as well. According to website statistics analyzer Alexa, AliExpress affiliated to China-based e-commerce giant Alibaba has become the biggest online trading platform in Kazakhstan, selling everything from clothing, home furnishings to digital products.
Cultural ties between the two countries are also getting stronger. There’s growing enthusiasm to learn the Chinese language in Kazakhstan as many companies seek employees who can speak Chinese.
Currently there are four Confucius Institutes and several Chinese language teaching centers sponsored by the institute across the country. Kazakh official statistics show that China has become the second most popular destination for overseas education, with some 12,000 students from Kazakhstan currently studying in China.
Tourism cooperation has also boomed. Starting in July, Kazakhstan began issuing group visas to Chinese tourists, and the country will host a series of activities throughout 2017 to mark a “Tourism Year of China,” the first such event hosted by a Central Asian country.
“In the past 25 years, China-Kazakhstan relations have taken big leaps in both quality and quantity, and the impact of the relationship has now exceeded bilateral scope, with far-reaching influence on the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt, promoting cooperation across Eurasia as well as maintaining strategic security and stability in central Asia and even the world,” Zhang said.
“In this context, Premier Li’s second visit to Kazakhstan is widely anticipated and will accelerate the development of China-Kazakhstan relations on the fast track.”