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Carry Forward Silk Road Spirit and Write a New Chapter for Cooperation

From June 7 to 10, 2017 local time, President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Kazakhstan, and attended the 17th Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the opening ceremony of Astana Expo 2017 upon invitation. At the end of the trip, Foreign Minister Wang Yi briefed the press on the visit.

Wang Yi said that this visit is the first visit after President Xi Jinping hosting the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), and it is also an important diplomatic action of China towards the Eurasian region. Within a short time of over 60 hours, President Xi Jinping extensively attended over 20 bilateral and multilateral events, featuring a joint discussion of the cause of China-Kazakhstan friendly cooperation, a joint design of the blueprint of SCO development, and a joint promotion of the grand gathering of Astana Expo 2017. Upholding all along the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning, mutual benefit and win-win results, this visit injects strong impetus to the construction of the "Belt and Road", tightens the strong bonds for neighborhood community of common destiny, and opens up broad prospects for regional peace and prosperity. Public opinions from China and abroad have paid high attention to this visit, and maintain that at a time when the BRF was just successfully concluded, President Xi Jinping's revisit to the country where the Silk Road Economic Belt was first initiated makes a new step forward in the joint construction of the "Belt and Road" and plays a new chapter of good-neighborly and friendly cooperation, which fully demonstrates the image of a major country featuring good faith, responsibility and action.

First, Elevate China-Kazakhstan relations to New Highs

China and Kazakhstan, connected by mountains and rivers, and have enjoyed a time-honored friendship between the two peoples. Since the establishment of the diplomatic relations 25 years ago, China and Kazakhstan have witnessed a comprehensive and rapid development of bilateral relations, and increasingly become a genuine community of common interests and community of common destiny. During the visit to Kazakhstan, President Xi Jinping and President Nursultan Nazarbayev made a comprehensive plan for bilateral cooperation and pushed China-Kazakhstan relations to an even higher stage.

Political mutual trust achieves an unprecedented promotion. This visit is President Xi Jinping's third visit to Kazakhstan and also his 16th meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, which demonstrates the good working relations and deep personal friendship between the two heads of state as well as the height and intimacy of China-Kazakhstan relations. The two heads of state reached important consensus on deepening China-Kazakhstan comprehensive strategic partnership and jointly signed the China-Kazakhstan Joint Statement, charting the course and drawing the blueprint for the development of bilateral relations in the next stage. President Xi Jinping pointed out that China and Kazakhstan will forge an even closer community of common interests and community of common destiny, and become good neighbors, good friends and good partners forever. President Nursultan Nazarbayev highly praised the natural partnership and sincere friendship between China and Kazakhstan. Both sides agreed to continue political support to each other, respect each other's development path and internal and external policies, safeguard each other's core interests, stay in close communication on major international and regional issues and enhance coordination and collaboration within the frameworks of multilateral mechanisms.

Development strategies are docked in a faster pace. The Cooperation Outline on Docking the Silk Road Economic Belt Construction and the New Economic Policy of the "Bright Road" signed between China and Kazakhstan last year marks a new phase of docking of development strategies featuring in-depth integration and mutual promotion. During this visit, both sides decided to achieve the docking in four major aspects. First, realize the docking of the new Eurasia Land Bridge and China-Central Asia-West Asia economic corridor construction with Kazakhstan's strategy of building international logistics thoroughfare. Second, promote the docking of international production capacity cooperation with Kazakhstan's acceleration of industrialization process. Third, realize the docking of China's advantage in land and maritime joint transportation with Kazakhstan's demand in eastward shipping. Fourth, promote the docking of "Digital Silk Road" initiative and "Digital Kazakhstan" strategy. These plans focus on connectivity, production capacity cooperation and scientific and technological innovation, cover "Western Europe-Western China" highway, China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center and other key projects, and form a new pattern of China-Kazakhstan all-round and mutually beneficial cooperation. The two heads of state also attended the ceremony of China-Kazakhstan Eurasia cross-border transportation, witnessing new achievements in the joint construction of the "Belt and Road".

Friendly cooperation is promoted comprehensively. The two heads of state agreed to tap potentials for cooperation thoroughly, broaden cooperation channels continuously, and focus on complementary advantages, mutual benefit and win-win results to better benefit the two peoples. The two countries signed over ten cooperation documents between the governments and relevant departments, covering various fields such as economy, trade, finance, infrastructure construction, water conservancy, quality inspection and media. Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in people-to-people and cultural engagement, and at local level so as to enhance mutual understanding and friendship. President Xi Jinping announced to increase the quota of Chinese government scholarships to Kazakhstan, winning positive responses in the local community. Both sides agreed to deepen cooperation in aspects such as cracking down on the "three evil forces" and cross-border organized crimes so as to jointly address the challenges that threaten regional security and stability.

During the visit to Kazakhstan, President Xi Jinping and President Nursultan Nazarbayev visited the Chinese Pavilion at Astana Expo 2017, and attended the opening ceremony of the Expo with the heads of delegation. This Expo is a nationwide celebration in Kazakhstan and also the first specialized Expo held by a Central Asian country. "Neighbors wish each other well, just as loved ones do to each other." President Xi Jinping's attendance at the Expo upon invitation is not only a support to Kazakhstan, but also a support to the Central Asian countries who are seeking development and revitalization as well as the rise of international status. China participates in the Expo with the largest exhibition area, displaying the latest technological achievements. China will host wonderful activities of the Chinese Pavilion, becoming an attraction of the Expo.

Second, Lead the SCO to Achieve New Development

Since its establishment 16 years ago, the SCO has become an important platform and reliable support for the member countries to enhance mutual trust, deepen good-neighborly friendship, expand practical cooperation and jointly safeguard regional security and stability. With the increasing uncertainties and instabilities in the current international and regional situation, the member countries are more dependent on the SCO. China will take over the presidency after the summit, and its role is highly expected. President Xi Jinping attended the summit for the fifth consecutive year and had in-depth exchanges of views with leaders of other countries on the SCO's major topics as well as international and regional issues, contributing China's wisdom, proposing China's initiative and taking China's responsibility.

Cohesion of the SCO members is strengthened. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the signing of the SCO Charter and the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Long-Term Good-neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation of the SCO Member States. At this summit, the member countries reviewed the "Shanghai Spirit" mainly embodied in the two documents, and have become more cohesive in the face of complex and ever-changing international and regional situation. With the official admission of India and Pakistan as its member countries at the summit, the SCO completed its first enlargement, with its international influence further enhanced and cooperation space further expanded. President Xi Jinping pointed out that we should stay true to our mission, continue to carry forward the "Shanghai Spirit", advance with the times and open up a new situation for regional cooperation. He called for the member countries, old and new, to stick to the good tradition of solidarity and coordination, deepen political mutual trust and strengthen mutual support so as to build a community of common destiny featuring equal treatment, mutual support, and sharing of weal and woe as well as safety and danger. These important views will promote the SCO member countries to work hand in hand through thick and thin, release enlargement bonus and maintain a sound and stable development.

The overall direction of the SCO development is charted. President Xi Jinping announced at the summit that China will hold the next summit in June 2018, expounded China's working ideas as the rotating presidency and pinpointed the fundamental philosophy of the SCO development in the following stage. He stressed that the member countries should consolidate solidarity and coordination and support each other in safeguarding respective core interests. We should join hands to address challenges and assure security and stability of regional situation. We should give play to the SCO's role to promote the process of political settlement of the Afghan issue. We should dock development strategies so that the people of all countries can benefit from the course of regional integration and economic globalization. All members should tighten people-to-people and cultural bonds to strengthen the sense of the SCO as a "big family". All members should adhere to inclusiveness and openness, and enlarge exchanges and cooperation with observer countries, dialogue partners and other countries as well as international and regional organizations. All sides held that President Xi Jinping's ideas and concepts are closely related with the changing situation, fit the needs of all sides, focus on mutual benefit and win-win cooperation, and will promote the SCO for a new round of development and open up new prospects for regional cooperation.

New initiatives are proposed for SCO cooperation. President Xi Jinping put forward a series of detailed initiatives on SCO cooperation in various fields such as politics, security, economy, people-to-people and cultural engagement, external exchange and mechanism building, including to formulate a five-year implementation outline for the Treaty on Long-term Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation of the SCO Member States, to hold Defense and Security Forum and draw up a three-year cooperation outline to fight against the "three evil forces", to discuss and sign the SCO Trade Facilitation Agreement and carry out timely feasibility study on free trade zone, and to establish economic think-tanks alliance, e-commerce industry alliance, media cooperation mechanism and others. These initiatives not only base themselves on the current situation but also adopt a long-term perspective, with macro thinking as well as operability, and will promote the SCO development toward a direction of more comprehensive coordination, more practical cooperation and more efficient actions.

Fully adopting China's opinions and initiatives, the leaders of the member states jointly signed and issued documents such as the Astana Declaration and the Press Communiqué. All sides also signed the SCO Convention on Countering Extremism. As a significant initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping at the Dushanbe Summit in 2014, the convention perfects the legal foundation for combating the "three evil forces", helps to address the symptom and root of terrorism, and conduces to more targeted anti-terrorism cooperation.

During the summit, President Xi Jinping met with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. The two heads of state agreed to strengthen mutual support, intensify collaboration and coordination in international and regional issues, promote the SCO for further development, and promote the docking of the "Belt and Road" construction with the Eurasian Economic Union for more achievements. President Xi Jinping also met with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India respectively, reaching important consensus on stabilizing China-India relations and supporting the peace process in Afghanistan.

President Xi Jinping also met with leaders of Tajikistan, Spain and Turkmenistan respectively, which greatly promotes bilateral relations and practical cooperation.

Third, Write a New Chapter of "Belt and Road" Construction

President Xi Jinping put forward the initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt for the first time when visited Kazakhstan in 2013. The "Belt and Road" construction began since then as a grand initiative. Over the past four years, it has been gradually transformed from initiative to actions, and from philosophy to practice. After chairing the first BRF, President Xi Jinping revisited the country where the "Belt and Road" was initiated, and met again with regional leaders, promoting the "Belt and Road" construction for new progress at a new starting point.

The BRF consensus is vigorously carried forward. President Xi Jinping made incisive explanations of the rich connotation of the Silk Road spirit at the opening ceremony of the Forum, and portrayed the bright prospects and direction of the "Belt and Road" construction. This visit combined the Silk Road spirit and the achievements of bilateral and multilateral meetings, and produced a strong resonance. It is fully reflected that the Silk Road spirit shares the same core with China's guidelines in neighborhood diplomacy featuring amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, has similarities with "Shanghai Spirit" featuring solidarity, mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation, and conforms to the Expo's philosophy of exchanges among civilizations. During this visit, President Xi Jinping carried forward the principles of wide consultation, joint construction and sharing, comprehensively promoted policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds, reached broad consensus with all sides and achieved a series of achievements in practical cooperation, providing strong support to forge the "Belt and Road" into a route featuring peace, prosperity, openness, innovation and civilization.

The docking of development strategies is strongly promoted. Kazakhstan is a key country along the "Belt and Road". President Xi Jinping's visit promoted China and Kazakhstan to play an exemplary role in jointly building the "Belt and Road" and in international production capacity cooperation. The land and maritime joint transportation of the two countries links two continents and three oceans, and the Lianyungang-Horgos thoroughfare between China and Kazakhstan links the "Belt" and the "Road". The SCO plays an indispensable role in promoting connectivity in the above five aspects among regional countries. President Xi Jinping stressed that China will continue to promote the docking and cooperation between the "Belt and Road" construction with the development strategies of the member countries and integration initiatives in other regions. To this end, the SCO will play its role as a platform. President Xi Jinping's attendance at the specialized Expo is an initiative step in promoting people-to-people and cultural exchanges and amity among the peoples. The Expo themed Future Energy coincides with the initiative of building a "Green Silk Road". President Xi Jinping served as a "guide" at the Chinese Pavilion, explained China's philosophy in green development and promoted international exchanges and cooperation.

The "Belt and Road" initiative wins strong support. Documents such as the Joint Statement issued by China and Kazakhstan and the Astana Declaration issued by the SCO fully acknowledged the positive significance of the "Belt and Road" initiative in bilateral and multilateral cooperation as well as regional and world economic development, spoke highly of the achievements of the summit and supported their implementation. Leaders from all countries said that they are willing to continue actively responding to and participating in the "Belt and Road" construction. Through President Xi Jinping's visit, we once again deeply feel that the "Belt and Road" initiative has become a popular international public product in which countries grasp opportunities for cooperation and see hope for development. The "Belt and Road" initiative is receiving more international consensus of recognition and enjoying more promising prospects.

Wang Yi said that President Xi Jinping's visit is another successful practice of China's all-round foreign diplomacy. It has realized an organic combination of bilateral and multilateral agenda, an echo of diplomacy at home and abroad, and an overall consideration of the situation at home and abroad. It drives the overall development with successes in key points and has achieved brilliant results. We should thoroughly study and carry out Xi Jinping's diplomatic thinking, comprehensively implement the achievements of this visit, deepen good-neighborly and friendly cooperation, earnestly promote the "Belt and Road" construction, and strive to build a more solid and practical partnership network. Through these efforts, we hope to create a sound external environment for domestic development, effectively guarantee the success of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and the realization of a well-off society in an all-round way, and make greater contributions to the cause of world peace and development.

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