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C+C5 Summit, Xi’s Messages and Goal

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On May 17, 2023, President Xi Jinping of China invited the leaders of Central Asia for the C+C5 (China+Central Asia) Summit. In response to this invitation, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan, President Sadyr Japarov of Kyrgyzstan, and President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan, along with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan and President Serdar Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan, visited the city of Xi’an, which holds historical and strategic significance for the Belt and Road Initiative, on May 18.[1] During the visit, various meetings were held with the aim of developing bilateral and regional relations. On May 18, 2023, President Xi had individual meetings with the Central Asian leaders to prepare for the summit scheduled for May 19, 2023.[2]

The first Central Asian leader that Xi met with was President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan. President Tokayev stated in his remarks that they shared the common goal of intensifying bilateral relations, emphasizing that they achieved this based on security and cooperation. The construction of lasting friendship between the two states was highlighted, with the announcement of sharing “happiness and sorrow” and the intention to advance the “enduring multilateral strategic partnership.” [3]

When we look at the relations within the framework of the relations, the trade volume between the two states according to the data of 2022 has reached approximately 31 billion dollars. In addition, the leaders signed 47 agreements worth 22 billion dollars. During the leaders’ meeting, the oil and gas industry, the activities of technology companies, the establishment of a gas processing plant in the Kashagan oil field, the expansion of the Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline, renewable energy, mining, e-commerce, customs, agriculture, logistics and the Trans-Caspian International Transport Corridor were discussed.[4]

One of the leaders Xi met with was Mr. Japarov. During the meeting, issues such as mutual trade, implementation of trade and economic cooperation programs, security, friendship and cooperation, development of bilateral relations, hydropower projects and China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway were discussed.  Noting that Kyrgyzstan-China relations are at the highest level, Mr. Japarov noted that political mutual trust serves to expand and develop trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation between the countries.  During the meeting, in addition to the joint declaration on the establishment of a strategic partnership between the countries, 25 other documents were signed.[5]

During the meeting between Xi Jinping and President Mirziyoyev, a wide range of topics were addressed, including investment, economy, trade, commercial relations, energy, health, regional security and stability, poverty eradication, and the deepening of bilateral relations in multiple dimensions. The discussions also focused on intensifying connectivity and establishing a China-Uzbekistan community, as well as a China-Central Asia community, to foster a shared future. As a testament to their commitment, the leaders signed 41 documents, encompassing areas such as investment, poverty reduction, agricultural product trade, quarantine measures, and local cooperation.[6] Subsequently, following the business forum, significant agreements worth a staggering 25 billion dollars were successfully concluded.[7]

Another meeting took place between Xi Jinping and President Rahman, delving into various crucial subjects. The discussions encompassed green economy, digital technologies, security and counterterrorism measures, infrastructure development, energy initiatives, mining activities, and an assessment of the Tajik aluminum company “Talco.” Moreover, the leaders explored matters concerning energy plants and transmission lines within Tajikistan, the local production of electric vehicles, advancements in the agricultural sector, the proposal to establish an economic corridor named the “China-Tajikistan-Northern Afghanistan” corridor, the construction of a specific section of the Varshez road in the Shughnon district of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, leading to the Kulma-Karasu junction, and the collaborative development of a project for the reconstruction of the Kulma-Karasu border crossing between Tajikistan and China. These comprehensive discussions culminated in the signing of 25 cooperation documents, solidifying the commitment to joint endeavors.[8]

Xi Jinping, finally, had a meeting with President Berdimuhamedov. The leaders discussed investment, economy, trade, natural gas, communication, aviation, culture, regional peace, stability, long-term stability preservation, the Belt and Road Initiative, and strengthening cooperation. Following the meeting, the leaders signed five new agreements.[9]

Subsequently, the C+C5 Summit was held after the bilateral meetings. In his speech at the summit, Xi emphasized the need for a “stable,” “prosperous,” “harmonious,” and “interconnected” Central Asia. In this context, he outlined a vision for a China-Central Asia community, emphasizing the principles of “mutual assistance,” “common development,” “universal security,” and “enduring friendship.” He proposed the following eight-point roadmap within this framework:[10]

  • Strengthening institutional structure,
  • Expanding economic and trade ties,
  • Deeping Transportation connectivity,
  • Broadening energy cooperation,
  • Promoting green innovation,
  • Developing capabilities for development,
  • Enhacing intercultural dialogue,
  • Preserving regional peace.

After the summit, the leaders held a press statement. In the statement, they mentioned that they signed the Xian Declaration of the China-Central Asia Summit, acknowledged the summit outcomes, and outlined a plan for the future development of China-Central Asia relations. They also expressed their commitment to working closer together for a shared future, supporting each other firmly on issues such as sovereignty, independence, security, and territorial integrity, rejecting any interference in their internal affairs by any external forces, maintaining their adherence to the One China Principle, considering the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative as a new starting point, promoting trade liberalization, expanding industrial and investment cooperation, developing corridors between China and Central Asia, implementing the “Cultural Silk Road” program, providing scholarships to Central Asian students, resolutely combating various threats including terrorism, separatism, and extremism, jointly building a stable Central Asia, adhering to the United Nations Charter, strongly supporting multilateralism and international law, and making the international order and global governance more just.[11]

In addition to the bilateral agreements, the leaders have also accepted nine multilateral documents. This demonstrates China’s intention to enhance its relations with Central Asia on both bilateral and regional levels. Alongside the China-Central Asia Summit Xian Declaration, documents pertaining to industrial and investment cooperation, economic and trade cooperation, digital trade, infrastructure and engineering, as well as quarantine of imported and exported animals and plants have been endorsed, highlighting collaboration in these areas. Furthermore, agreements regarding the establishment of meeting mechanisms for agriculture ministers and customs service heads have been approved. Lastly, the leaders announced the acceptance of the memorandum of understanding on the establishment of the China-Central Asia Business Council.[12]

The Xian Declaration, consisting of 15 points, contains significant details. The declaration emphasizes the importance of leader diplomacy for the advancement of relations, the establishment of ministerial-level mechanisms for identified areas of cooperation, and the possibility of establishing an Asia-Central Asia Secretariat to facilitate the functioning of mechanisms within foreign affairs institutions. Decisions and discussions were made regarding these relationship aspects. Additionally, emphasis is placed on cooperation in alignment with the development strategies of Central Asian countries, China’s access to various regions through corridors in Central Asia, and the continuation and enhancement of projects involving China in the region. Furthermore, the declaration opposes instigation attempts such as “color revolutions,” highlights democracy as a shared aspiration and value of humanity, and identifies strategies for increasing dialogue and cooperation through international organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), and others. Efforts in the international arena for digital data security are also highlighted. Lastly, views are expressed on the development of agricultural trade and smart farming, ensuring food security, energy cooperation, joint efforts against climate change, and the establishment of inclusive governance in Afghanistan.[13]

The main conclusions reached at the summit and the talks are “to create a closer China-Central Asian community sharing a common future”, “to establish closer cooperation” and “a more stable, developing and prosperous Central Asia”. In this context, an important step was taken by officially establishing the meeting mechanism to be held every two years.[14]

Indeed, this not only signifies the stable development of Central Asia but also entails increasing gains for China within a win-win framework. The strengthening and stabilization of Central Asian states would mean a stable route for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, security of its western borders, and new markets. China is striving to institutionalize its relations with Central Asia at the highest level from a broad perspective. At a time when Russia has experienced a loss of power due to the Ukraine conflict and Western sanctions, the development and deepening of relations become of critical importance. Additionally, Central Asia is the most stable geography between Europe and China. As European interest in Central Asia grows, China is deepening its relations with the region to develop significant strategies. This approach would strengthen China geopolitically against Europe and contribute to the stability of the shortest route of the Belt and Road Initiative. The inaugural summit and the decisions made hold critical importance in this regard. The messages conveyed by Xi Jinping are evidence that this will rapidly materialize.


[1] “5 Central Asian Countries’ Presidents All Arrive in Xi’an for China-Central Asia Summit”, CCTV, https://english.cctv.com/2023/05/18/ARTI3l8QE8UYcNR1Ldskj7m7230518.shtml?spm=C69523.PwOasl7Qr6J6.MHZUB6bez4SG.11, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[2] Andrew Hayley, “Central Asia Forges Ties with China as Xi Touts ‘Enduring’ Friendship”, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/central-asia-leaders-converge-china-xi-touts-enduring-friendship-2023-05-18/?taid=6465b7f9acd1eb0001fdcaa0&utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Content&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[3] Adlet Seilkhanov, “Kazakh, Chinese Presidents Hold Talks”, Kazinform, https://www.inform.kz/en/kazakh-chinese-presidents-hold-talks_a4068289, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[4] Dana Omirgazy, “Kazakhstan and China Sign 47 Agreements Worth $ 22 Billion, as Tokayev Outlines Key Areas for Partnership”, The Astana Times, https://astanatimes.com/2023/05/kazakhstan-and-china-sign-47-agreements-worth-22-billion-as-tokayev-outlines-key-areas-for-partnership/, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[5] “Meeting of Sadyr Japarov with Xi Jinping: 26 Documents Signed”, 24 KG, https://24.kg/english/265847_Meeting_of_Sadyr_Japarov_with_Xi_Jinping_26_documents_signed/, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[6] “China to Deepen Cooperation with Uzbekistan, Says Xi”, CGTN, https://news.cgtn.com/news/2023-05-18/Xi-holds-talks-with-Uzbek-president-1jUl7J28LMA/index.html, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[7] “Uzbekistan and China Adopt a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Program – 41 Documents Signed – Chinese and Uzbek Businesses Conclude Deals Worth US$25 Billion”, News Central Asia, https://www.newscentralasia.net/2023/05/18/uzbekistan-and-china-adopt-a-comprehensive-economic-partnership-program-41-documents-signed-chinese-and-uzbek-businesses-conclude-deals-worth-us25-billion/, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[8] “State Visit of the President of Tajikistan to China – Transport, Energy and Industrial Projects on the Agenda of High-Level Talks”, News Central Asia, https://www.newscentralasia.net/2023/05/19/state-visit-of-the-president-of-tajikistan-to-china-transport-energy-and-industrial-projects-on-the-agenda-of-high-level-talks/, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[9] “UPDATED: Serdar Berdimuhamedov Met With Xi Jinping in Xi’an – Turkmenistan and China are Ready for Comprehensive Development of Cooperation”, News Central Asia, https://www.newscentralasia.net/2023/05/18/update-serdar-berdimuhamedov-met-with-xi-jinping-in-xian-turkmenistan-and-china-are-ready-for-comprehensive-development-of-cooperation/, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[10] “Working Together for a China-Central Asia Community with a Shared Future Featuring Mutual Assistance, Common Development, Universal Security, and Everlasting Friendship”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/zxxx_662805/202305/t20230519_11079941.html, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[11] “President Xi Jinping and the Presidents of the Five Central Asian Countries Jointly Meet the Press”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, https://www.mfa.gov.cn/eng/zxxx_662805/202305/t20230519_11080118.html, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[12] “Xi’an China-Central Asia Summit Adopted Nine Multilateral Documents”, News Central Asia, https://www.newscentralasia.net/2023/05/20/xian-china-central-asia-summit-adopted-nine-multilateral-documents/, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[13] “The Leaders of the Central Asian States and China Adopted the Xi’an Declaration”, EL, https://embassylife.ru/en/post/28200, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[14] “Three Takeaways from the China-Central Asia Summit”, CGTN, https://news.cgtn.com/news/2023-05-20/Three-takeaways-from-the-China-Central-Asia-Summit-1jXfehTxA0E/index.html, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

Dr. Emrah KAYA
Dr. Emrah KAYA
ANKASAM Dış Politika Uzmanı Dr. Emrah Kaya, Akdeniz Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezundur. Yüksek lisans derecesini 2014 yılında Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde hazırladığı “Latin Amerika'da Sol Liderlerin Yükselişi ve Uluslararası Politikaya Etkisi: Venezuela-Bolivya Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Kaya, doktora derecesini de 2022 yılında aynı üniversitede hazırladığı "Terörle Mücadelede Müzakere Yöntemi: ETA-FARC-LTTE-PKK" başlıklı teziyle elde etmiştir. İyi derecede İngilizce bilen Kaya'nın başlıca çalışma alanları; Orta Asya, Latin Amerika, terörizm ve barış süreçleridir.