In this lovely mid-summer month of June when all living things are flourishing, I will be traveling to Kazakhstan at the invitation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. This will be my third visit to your country. I will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) annual summit and the opening ceremony of Expo 2017 Astana. In this connection, I cannot but recall the fond memories of the magnificent Kazakh steppe, vibrant rivers, the phenomenal national development, and most of all, the warm-hearted and sincere Kazakh people. I very much look forward to returning to your beautiful land.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Kazakhstan. Over the past quarter of a century, our bilateral relations have withstood the test of time and the ever-changing international situation. Our two countries are not only good neighbors but also comprehensive strategic partners. We are now working together to build a community of shared interests and shared future. Our bilateral relations have moved forward by leaps and bounds and become stronger and closer than ever before.
- China-Kazakhstan political mutual trust has grown stronger. Our two countries respect each other's independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and choice of development path. We have firmly supported each other on issues vital to our respective core interests, and worked in close coordination and collaboration on international and regional issues.
- China-Kazakhstan practical cooperation has deepened continuously. China ranks among Kazakhstan's top trading partners and investors. Chinese investment in Kazakhstan amounted to over 42.8 billion U.S. dollars. China's lending to Kazakhstan has exceeded 50 billion U.S. dollars on an accumulative basis. Our two-way trade of the first four months of 2017 surged by 45.6 percent. Kazakhstan's exports to China are on the rise. Kazakh wheat flour, vegetable oil, soybean, meat products and honey have made their way to the dinning table in more and more Chinese households. Our two countries have identified and agreed on 51 projects of industrial capacity cooperation which will help promote Kazakhstan's industrialization and create more jobs for the Kazakh people. Kazakhstan has exported 100 million tons of oil to China via the China-Kazakhstan crude oil pipeline, and 183 billion cubic meters of gas to my country through the natural gas pipelines. Our two countries are exploring opportunities for cooperation on new energy including nuclear, wind and photovoltaic power. There are over 50 flights between us every week. In 2016, more than 1,200 Europe-bound China Railway Express trains transited through Kazakhstan, and rail freight handled by our railways reached 8.2 million tons and the number of freight containers increased by more than two-fold. This February saw the first freight of Kazakh wheat exported to Southeast Asia via China.
- China-Kazakhstan people-to-people and cultural exchanges have grown closer. In 2016, nearly 500,000 mutual visits were made between our two countries, and 14,000 Kazakh students were studying in China. Five Confucius Institutes and seven Confucius Classrooms have been set up in Kazakhstan while four Kazakhstan Centers have been inaugurated in Chinese universities. The Kazakh singer Dimash Kudaibergen is now a household name in China. Popular Chinese films or TV series, such as A Bite of China or Family On the Go, have captivated more and more Kazakh viewers.
It was during my first visit to Kazakhstan back in 2013 that I proposed the initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt, which started the process of Belt and Road cooperation. Over the past four years, the Belt and Road Initiative has gradually developed from a proposal to actions, and from a concept to practice. The initiative offers an open and inclusive platform of cooperation and has become a global public good well received by the international community.
The international situation is undergoing profound and complex changes. The world economy is slowly recovering amid deep-going readjustment. Global development remains a daunting challenge. In this context, the building of the Belt and Road brings us unprecedented historic opportunities. Last month, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was successfully held in Beijing. The countries represented at the forum agreed to work more closely together to synergize development strategies for greater complementarity and common development.
The primary task of my upcoming visit is to have in-depth discussions with President Nazarbayev on how best the two countries can advance China-Kazakhstan comprehensive strategic partnership under the new circumstances, accelerate our cooperation in all areas and come up with an overall action plan for that purpose. It is my sincere hope that China-Kazakhstan win-win cooperation for common development and prosperity will grow from strength to strength and have a brighter future.
- We need to promote cooperation in jointly building the Belt and Road. We need to synergize our development strategies in a faster pace and work together to implement the outcomes of the Belt and Road Forum. We need to further unlock the potentials for cooperation on ports, transportation and logistics, speed up the construction of such projects as the New Eurasian Land Bridge, the China-Central and Western Asia Economic Corridor and the Western Europe-Western China Road so as to promote connectivity and trade facilitation. We should also identify investment and financing models that are more flexible and effective, and expand trade settlements in local currencies in support of our bilateral cooperation projects.
- We need to make industrial capacity cooperation a new area of growth in China-Kazakhstan cooperation. We need to accelerate the implementation of the agreed early-harvest projects, continue to leverage the role of the existing mechanism of dialogue on investment and industrial cooperation and maintain close contact on information exchange and policy coordination in an effort to provide a sound business environment for our companies operating in each other's country.
- We need to vigorously promote high-tech and innovation cooperation. We need to deepen cooperation in frontier areas such as aerospace and aviation, digital economy and new energy. We also need to advance the development of big data, cloud computing and smart city, and speed up cooperation in IT industries and e-commerce. We will endeavor to bring about an innovation-driven development so as to upgrade China-Kazakhstan cooperation to a new level.
- We need to develop programs that help bring our people closer. We will work more actively to promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges. We should promote mutual understanding and mutual appreciation between our people through the establishment of cultural centers in each other's country, the joint operation of institutions of higher education and the exchange of films, television programs and literature works. China will encourage more visits of its citizens to Kazakhstan for tourism so that they will see for themselves the unparalleled beauty of this "Uly Dala Eli," the land of the great steppe.
- We need to deepen our security cooperation. We will implement the vision for common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. We will continue to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism, drug trafficking and transnational organized crimes according to law and jointly safeguard the cyber security. We should put in place bilateral security mechanisms for the Belt and Road cooperation to ensure the security of the oil and gas pipelines and other large cooperation projects undertaken by our two countries. We will protect the legitimate rights and interests and the personal and property safety of our citizens and companies.
- We need to strengthen our cooperation at the international and multilateral levels. We will enhance communication and coordination under such multilateral frameworks as the United Nations (UN), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and maintain timely exchange of views on international and regional hotspot issues. China supports Kazakhstan's greater role in international affairs in its capacity as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2017-2018 term.
Another important item on my agenda in Kazakhstan is to attend the SCO annual summit in Astana. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the SCO Charter and the 10th anniversary of the Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation of the SCO Member States. Over the years, the SCO member states have been firmly committed to the purposes and principles enshrined in the two important documents. We have never failed to honor and promote the "Shanghai Spirit" featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development. As a result, the mutual trust among the SCO member states is stronger and solid progress has been made in SCO cooperation in all areas. All this has contributed significantly to regional stability and prosperity.
The SCO finds security cooperation extremely important and has put in place cooperation mechanisms on combating terrorism, separatism, extremism, drugs and transnational crimes. The member states have held joint counter-terrorism drills on a regular basis, and worked actively to address hotspot issues. All these efforts have helped to maintain regional security and stability.
The SCO member states have implemented in earnest the Programme of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation of the SCO Member States and the Development Strategy of the SCO Until 2025, and steadily moved forward cooperation in such areas as trade, investment, connectivity, energy, finance and agriculture. The SCO has also worked actively to deepen member states' exchanges in culture, education, youth, health, science and technology, environmental protection, tourism and sports. Such endeavors have helped to boost economic and social development in the member states and enhance friendship and cooperation.
As the rotating chair of the SCO, Kazakhstan has contributed significantly to the organization and its development. At the upcoming Astana summit, heads of the member states will make a number of important decisions on deepening cooperation in all fields and completing the organization's first membership expansion. These decisions will reinforce the organization's position for future development. China will succeed Kazakhstan as the rotating chair upon conclusion of this summit. China stands ready to work with Kazakhstan and other member states and build on the Astana summit to further strengthen the organization so that it will deliver more tangible benefits to people in this region.
The Expo 2017 Astana, the first of its kind in a Central Asian country, will be opening soon. Its theme "Future Energy" is very much in line with global trend toward a green, healthy and sustainable economic growth and highly compatible with China's initiative on a green Silk Road.
China supports Kazakhstan in hosting a successful and distinctive Expo. The China Pavilion will showcase state-of-the-art technologies such as an "artificial minisun" using nuclear fusion and a high-speed rail cockpit simulator. Our pavilion aims to promote a green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable way of life and production, and demonstrate China's vision on green development. I wish the Astana Expo a complete success!
Under President Nazarbayev's outstanding leadership, Kazakhstan has maintained social harmony and stability and achieved rapid economic growth since its independence. The Kazakh people are living better and happier lives. Thanks to the steady growth of its aggregate national strength, Kazakhstan now ranks among the world's 50 most competitive countries, creating the "Kazakhstan miracle."