President Xi Jinping proposed jointly building an “economic belt along the Silk Road” in a speech he delivered at Nazarbayev University in Almaty during a state visit to Kazakhstan in September. 2013. [Photo/People.com.cn]
Xi’s trips to the Central Asian nation have produced strong economic and social results
Editor’s note: China Daily publishes a series of articles reviewing President Xi Jinping’s visits to China and abroad over the past decade to present his vision for development in China and the world.
A legendary Chinese composer goes by different names in different places. As one of China’s greatest composers, he is known as Xian Xinghai whose Yellow River Cantata has inspired millions. In Kazakhstan, he is known as Huang Xun and was considered a refugee of remarkable talent.
Wherever he went, no matter what people called him, his music gave people the courage and strength to fight against the fascist invaders. President Xi Jinping told the composer’s story during his first state visit to Kazakhstan in 2013.
When war broke out between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1941, the composer worked on a documentary for the Chinese Communist Party under the pseudonym of Huang Xun in Moscow. Forced to abort his mission and evacuate, he attempted to return home through a southern region of the Soviet Union that is now Kazakhstan, only to find the borders closed. He was left alone in the Kazakh city of Almaty, where he knew no one and had nowhere to go.
Xian hid his true identity and contributed to the Kazakh cultural cause anonymously. He incorporated Kazakh traditional music and folklore into his works. They served as a rallying call to fight fascism and were immensely popular with locals.
In Almaty today, a boulevard bears his name and a monument has been erected to commemorate him in the city center.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Kazakhstan, and Xi’s three visits to the country in 2013, 2015 and 2017 have carried on the spirit of the Silk Road and illustrated the warm relationship between the two neighbours.
Kadisha Dairova, vice-president of Nazarbayev University in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, formerly Astana, overflows with excitement as she recalls a speech Xi gave during his first visit to the country on September 7 2013.
It was this speech that officially launched an ambitious initiative to jointly build an “economic belt along the Silk Road” to strengthen Sino-Kazakh relations and regional collaboration.
“Kazakhstan, located on the ancient Silk Road, has made an important contribution to the exchanges between Eastern and Western civilizations and the interaction and cooperation between various nations and cultures,” Xi said.
Over the past 20+ years, relations between China and Eurasian countries have developed rapidly, he said, and the ancient Silk Road has gained new vitality. In a new way, it took the collaboration between China and Eurasian countries to new heights.
To forge closer economic ties, deepen collaboration and expand development space in Eurasia, an innovative approach is needed, Xi said, and an “economic belt along the Silk Road” should be built. jointly, which would be a great undertaking for the benefit of the peoples of all countries. Along the route.
“There were no empty seats in the university’s semi-circular auditorium,” Dairova said.
“All viewers were drawn to the Chinese leader and were excited by his willingness to maintain good-neighbourly friendship with Central Asian countries and the proposed Silk Road Economic Belt.”
Xi’s speech was followed by extended applause, and the students seemed to feel that the bilateral collaboration under the Belt and Road Initiative offered them good job prospects upon graduation. she said.
Zhang Xiao, Chinese ambassador to Kazakhstan, said Xi’s proposal for a Silk Road Economic Belt in 2013 was immediately supported by Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan at the time, and was positively received by various segments of Kazakh society.
“As a result, Kazakhstan has become one of the first states to engage in international collaboration under the Belt and Road Initiative. China and Kazakhstan are at the forefront of the construction of the “Belt and Road”.
Since the 2013 visit, China and Kazakhstan have firmly adhered to the principles of “joint discussion, joint construction and joint use”, ensuring that the “Belt and Road” initiative closely aligns with the new economic policy of the Kazakhstan, Nurly Zhol, which means a brilliant path, globally promoting collaboration. , Zhang added.
Askar Mamin, former Kazakh prime minister and former chairman of Kazakhstan’s national railway company Temir Zholy, said he felt the energy of China-Kazakh cross-border trade after Xi’s visit.
The Kazakh town of Khorgos, on the border with China, used to play an important role on the ancient Silk Road, and it now enjoys growing trade between the two countries with the New Silk Road, it said. -he declares.
In December 2013, Nazarbayev launched the Khorgos-East Gate Free Economic Zone on the border. The area is part of the Khorgos International Border Cooperation Center, a China-Kazakhstan joint venture, Mamin said, and Xi’s visit convinced him the project could become a key bridge between China and Europe.
Trade between China and Kazakhstan has grown rapidly under the Belt and Road Initiative, said Jiang Wei, Chinese consul general in Almaty. In the first 10 months of 2021, trade between the two countries stood at $20.8 billion. China remained Kazakhstan’s second largest trading partner and became its main export destination for the first time.
“We are proud that this initiative was first announced in Kazakhstan during President Xi Jinping’s visit,” said Ruslan Bultrikov, Deputy Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations.
Xi’s speech was “very symbolic because this concept was announced for the first time during his meeting with students, who represent the young generation and for whom the big project will be realized,” he said.
Dairova said the Belt and Road Initiative is good for mutual understanding and cultural exchange. She oversaw the establishment of a Chinese cultural center at Nazarbayev University.
“My greatest wish is to help more students have the opportunity to study in China, boost Sino-Kazakh cultural exchanges, and cultivate more talents for Kazakhstan’s development.”
Like the composer Xian, another “musical ambassador” has also brought the peoples of the two countries closer together.
Dimash Kudaibergen, a young Kazakh singer, has become hugely popular in China, giving Chinese audiences a great insight into this landlocked country.
The singer, known as Dimash, sang for Xi during his state visit to Kazakhstan in 2015.
In 2017, he starred in Singer, a talent show produced by Hunan TV, and he quickly had millions of Chinese fans.
Mira Nazbekova, a Kazakh who works for an energy company, said more Chinese TV shows aired in Kazakhstan after Xi’s visits, and these helped young Kazakhs learn more about China. .
“More and more Kazakhs, especially young people, are choosing to learn Chinese as a foreign language at school and university,” Nazbekova said.
During Xi’s third visit to Kazakhstan, in 2017, the two countries agreed to further align Nurly Zhol with the Belt and Road Initiative, with industrialization at its core.
Xi took part in the opening ceremony of Expo 2017 in Nur-Sultan and visited the China Pavilion accompanied by Nazarbayev.
Dairova said during the 2017 visit, she was happy to learn that Xi had promised to increase the number of government scholarships by 200 for Kazakh students over the next five years.
Deng Ying, director of the Confucius Institute at Xi’an University of International Studies, said there were only dozens of students at the institute when it opened in 2007, but their number rapidly increased after Xi’an’s visit to Kazakhstan in 2013.
There are five institutes in Kazakhstan and nearly 20,000 Kazakh students are currently studying in China.