Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a virtual meeting with the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan andTajikistan. This follows by several days a similar conference held with these countries by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an attempt to move them away from their cooperation with China. Pompeo didn’t have much to offer in the way of incentives, however, and both the geographical closeness and the friendly relations between these countries and China makes it unlikely that they would break with China. Wang Yi underlined the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative for these land-locked countries.
Wang noted that China attaches great importance to the development of strategic partnership with the Central Asian countries, firmly supports all countries to follow the path of development in line with their national conditions, supports each country in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and supports the development of each country by itself
Wang called for establishing a traditional Chinese medicine center and cooperating in research on vaccines, and ensuring fast access for personnel on both sides, establishing green channels for the transportation of goods to ensure the safety and stability of the supply chain, expanding the scale of cross-border e-commerce, and accelerating the construction of the “Digital Silk Road.”
The parties agreed to promote the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative with the development strategies of Central Asian countries, build interconnected partnerships, deepen pragmatic cooperation in various fields, carry out effective investment cooperation, and jointly promote the recovery and development of the economy, and they issued a joint statement to that effect. The countries also agreed to expand high-tech cooperation areas such as e-commerce, smart cities, artificial intelligence, and big data technology applications to jointly build a partnership in the digital economy. One of the key points was to make Central Asia a transportation hub for Eurasia. In the statement the foreign ministers also agreed that while responding to the pandemic, there should be no discrimination, stigmatization, racism and xenophobia. They also reiterated their cooperation in fighting the “three forces”, terrorism, separatism and extremism.