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Result of the C+C5 Summit: Xian Declaration

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Relations between China and Central Asian countries have recently reached strategic dimensions. Within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, its effects in the Middle Corridor increase the value of the countries in the region. At the same time, the global effects of the Russia-Ukraine War increased the interest in the Central Asian states and shaped Beijing’s policies.

It can be said that China, which wants to strengthen and deepen its ties with the countries of the region in a holistic way, has increased its influence in Central Asia with the mechanism in the C+C5 format.

In addition, the basis for mutual cooperation and new projects for the future is formed. In this context, the C+C5 Summit held in Xian, China on 18-19 May 2023 is also important in many respects. The summit, which was held with the participation of the leaders of the Central Asian countries, created an effect that strengthens their cooperation and partnerships; it is also an indication that Beijing has deepened its presence in the region.

While Chinese President Xi Jinping revised their bilateral cooperation with the leaders of each regional country; has also taken steps to emphasize the sustainability of win-win relations within the framework of common policies. In this context, within the framework of the summit, an agreement was reached on issues such as the development of common commercial-economic, energy, transportation and security ties, and the institutional structuring of relations.

The Xian Declaration signed after the summit is crucial because of the current structure of the relations between the parties and the signs for the future. The following items are included in the 15-item declaration:[1]

  • The parties agree on the development of fruitful cooperation between Central Asian countries and China. At the same time, the desire to create a closer community with a common destiny is affirmed.
  • Within the framework of the summit, it was declared that a mechanism for the meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia and China was officially established. The summit will be held alternately, once in China and once in one of the Central Asian states, in alphabetical order, two years apart. It is also envisaged to establish a mechanism for ministerial meetings in order to accelerate the formation of the said format.
  • Central Asian states have confirmed their commitment to the “One China Principle”; China, on the other hand, stated that it supports the development path of Central Asian states, their efforts to protect their national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and their independent foreign and domestic policies.
  • Sides; stated that they agreed that ensuring state security, political stability and constitutional order is of key importance. However, they have resolutely opposed any attempt to discredit legitimate state power and incite “color revolutions”, as well as any form of interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
  • The issue of ensuring and maintaining harmony between the Belt and Road Initiative and the national development projects of Central Asian countries was emphasized. In this context, the National Development Program of the Kyrgyz Republic until 2026, the National Development Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan until 2030, the “Revival of the Great Silk Road” of Turkmenistan and the New Uzbekistan Development Strategy for 2022-2026, to strengthen practical cooperation in various fields in order to form a new architectonics of cooperation, characterized by a high level of complementarity and mutual benefit.
  • It was also stated that importance would be attached to the strengthening of commercial-economic ties. Emphasis was placed on developing a strategy for the New Economic Dialogue. At the same time, an agreement was reached on issues such as developing green investment projects, organizing the Central Asia-China Industry and Cooperation Forum, and creating common value chains.
  • Within the scope of increasing mutual interaction and facilitating transportation, the need to improve the status of Central Asia as one of the most important trans-Eurasian transportation hubs, to develop multimodal transit and transportation in China-Central Asia directions was expressed. In this context, it was declared that the parties would jointly develop the transportation infrastructure, including the modernization of new railways and existing railways and roads from China to Central Asia. Therefore, the operation of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway Project, the China-Tajikistan-Uzbekistan Highway and the West-China-Western Europe Highway has become more valuable.
  • Among the cooperation sectors, the importance of issues such as agriculture, irrigation, food safety and animal husbandry was emphasized.
  • Within the scope of cooperation in the field of energy, the creation of “Central Asia-China” partnerships in energy development, establishing cooperation along the entire production chain, and further expanding cooperation in the field of traditional energy resources, including oil, natural gas and coal, was supported. In this context, satisfaction with the acceleration of the construction of the fourth line of the Turkmenistan-China Natural Gas Pipeline was also expressed. It is seen that the changing energy supply-demand balance as one of the effects of the Russia-Ukraine War stands out as one of the main components in Central Asia-China cooperation. It should be noted that it is highly probable that new mechanisms will be created in the future within the scope of energy-based cooperation projects. Indeed, the development of an international roadmap for the development of hydrogen has been noted as one of the priority areas.
  • A common will has been put forward to strengthen cultural and humanitarian cooperation between Central Asian countries and China in fields such as education, science, culture, tourism, archeology, archives, physical culture and sports, media and think tanks. In this context, Beijing has proposed the implementation of the Cultural Silk Road Project.
  • The issue of climate change has also been one of the topics in the declaration. The parties called for closer cooperation in the field of climate resilience and adaptation, emphasizing that the joint use of “green” solutions and that they are designed to serve as effective measures to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.
  • In the meeting declaration, where developments in Afghanistan were also discussed, the initiative to establish the United Nations (UN) Regional Sustainable Development Goals Center for Central Asia and Afghanistan in Almaty was also included. At the same time, the parties strongly condemning terrorism, separatism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations, committed to joint action to combat drug trafficking, international organized crime and cybercrime, and to act together to ensure the security of key projects and mass events. The Samarkand Solidarity Initiative for Common Security and Prosperity is also important in this respect.
  • Central Asian states have declared their readiness to cooperate actively within the framework of the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative put forward by China. It has been declared that the “Central Asia-China Digital Data Security Cooperation Initiative” is jointly promoted.
  • Finally, the parties reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the central role of the UN in achieving international peace, security and sustainable development.

The Xian Declaration not only sets out the multiple cooperation options and future projects between the parties, but also shows that the intention to create a global impact is being followed. The frequent emphasis on the UN aims to ensure that partnerships and desired initiatives between the parties receive international support. It is also aimed to increase and strengthened the dialogue through multilateral organizations such as SCO and CICA in addition to UN.

Another point emphasized by the declaration is that the relations between the Central Asian states and China should be intensified in new sectors in addition to the existing cooperation areas.

On the other hand, it is seen that there is an institutionalization aim in the development of mutual relations. The establishment of cooperation mechanisms, ministries and various initiatives indicate that the parties want to strengthen partnerships on an institutional basis.

As a result, it is seen that the Central Asia-China Summit has brought a new vitality and dimension to the relations between the parties. It can be predicted that the second summit to be held in Kazakhstan in 2025 will be held with this enthusiasm. It can be said that the C+C5 format will develop in a way that will create strategic effects, with new arrangements and institutionalization activities to be made in partnerships until this date.


[1] “Xi’an Declaration of the China-Central Asia Summit”, New Central Asia, https://www.newscentralasia.net/2023/05/20/xian-declaration-of-the-china-central-asia-summit/, (Date of Accession: 22.05.2023).

Şeyma KIZILAY
Şeyma KIZILAY
Şeyma KIZILAY, 2016 yılında Erciyes Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2019 yılında Kırşehir Ahi Evran Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda sunduğu ‘’Uluslararası İlişkilerde Ulus İnşası Bağlamında Irak Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Doktora eğitimine Uludağ Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda devam eden Kızılay, tez aşamasındadır. Başlıca çalışma alanları; güvenlik, terörizm, Afganistan ve Pakistan’dır. Kızılay, iyi derecede İngilizce ve orta seviyede Arapça bilmektedir.