Kazakhstan and China: Ahead of Forecasts
Mr Zhang Xiyun, Chinese ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Kazakhstan, answered questions from the Kazakhstan magazine.
What are the results of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s recent visit to Kazakhstan?
Mr Hu Jintao’s visit is an important event in the history of Sino-Kazakh relations and reflects our sincere desire to develop a strategic partnership with your country. This visit will definitely have significant importance for elevating the level of political understanding and further expanding mutually-beneficial cooperation in all the spheres. It aimed to strengthen the practical foundations of bilateral relations and helped to coordinate the positions of our countries on regional and international issues and ensure and encourage stability in the region and throughout the world.
During the visit, President Hu Jintao held talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. He also met Speaker of the Senate Kasymzhomart Tokayev and Prime Minister Karim Masimov. They exchanged views on issues that represented mutual interest, achieving important accords on the all-round expansion of cooperation in the political, economic and humanitarian spheres, as well as the security sphere. After the meeting the heads of state signed a joint statement. In addition, a further nine documents on cooperation in the trade and economic, energy and other spheres were signed during this visit.
What are China’s global interests in Kazakhstan and Central Asia?
Over the 15 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Central Asian countries, we have jointly achieved excellent results in all spheres. While cooperating with regional countries, China has always been adhering to the principle of mutual benefit. For example, at the Tashkent summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2004, China announced that it would provide member countries of this organisation with soft loans worth $900m. Some of these funds are already being spent on several projects.
Chinese and Kazakh leaders said in 2005 that they had boosted interstate relations to the level of strategic partnership, which means a new stage in the development of bilateral relations. During Chinese President Hu Jintao’s latest visit to Kazakhstan, the two heads of state signed the Strategy of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Kazakhstan to Develop Economic Cooperation in December 2006 and the sectoral Programme to Cooperate in the Non-Extractive Sector, which has enriched our trade and economic partnership.
Could you please tell us about our countries’ cooperation in the trade and investment sphere?
This sector has been demonstrating a steady growth trend in recent years. Mutual investment is growing, so is the scale of economic and technical cooperation. According to the Chinese customs service, trade between our countries grew by 22.8% year on year to $8.36bn in 2006. Trade totalled $5.97bn in the first half of 2007, a 60.4% rise from the same period of 2006. Based on these figures, we expect that the initial aim of bringing bilateral trade to $10bn by 2010 will be achieved as early as this year.
As for investment, in addition to the traditional oil sphere, enterprises from the two countries are actively establishing cooperation in the financial and non-extractive sectors, including machine-building, textile, construction materials production, IT, transport and logistics, petrochemistry and metallurgy, agriculture and fishery, tourism and other sectors.
What major investment projects has Chinese capital already launched in Kazakhstan?
China’s main investment projects in your country are CNPC-Aktobemunaygas, PetroKazakhstan, the Atasu-Alashankou oil pipeline and Karazhanbasmunay CITIC. Chinese companies are making a significant contribution to Kazakhstan’s economic and social development. According to CNPC, since this company entered the Kazakh market, its total investment in the country’s economy reached $3.07bn, tax payments $3.18bn and spending on the social sphere exceeded $45m. Moreover, CNPC has created 14,500 long-term jobs.
A major joint project in the non-extractive sector is the construction of an electrolysis plant in Pavlodar Oblast and the Moynak hydroelectric power station. We are currently discussing the possibility of cooperation in the road and railway spheres, the construction sphere and producing construction materials, petrochemistry, setting up technology parks and so on.
What are the most important issues for further strengthening business ties between our countries?
Generally, Sino-Kazakh business cooperation is developing very successfully, especially in the past few years. Major projects are being carried out one after another, including building the China-Kazakhstan oil pipeline and creating the Khorgos international border cooperation centre. However, a good investment and trade climate that ensures lawful rights and interests of our countries’ enterprises and citizens are needed to develop business cooperation successfully.
China and Kazakhstan are placing great importance on this issue. At each meeting the heads of states draw plans, define the course of development, design important projects and monitor their fulfilment. We have set up a committee for cooperation chaired by deputy prime ministers to coordinate and efficiently solve issues arising in the trade and economic and other spheres. This committee is to hold its fourth annual sitting in Astana in late October or early November.
I am very grateful to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev for his great attention to developing Sino-Kazakh relations and your government for its friendly responses to requests made by China. Our business cooperation is mutually beneficial and corresponds to the course of Kazakhstan’s socioeconomic development and meets the interests of both countries. So far there has been no issue in our trade and economic cooperation that has not been solved.
What scientific and cultural programmes and projects is China carrying out in Kazakhstan?
This is a key aspect of Sino-Kazakhstan relations. Scientific and research organisations and enterprises of our countries are actively cooperating in the spheres of saving energy, nano- and biotechnology, new materials and chemistry, the IT sphere and automation, telecommunications and transport, natural resources development and environmental protection, as well as space and seismology. We intend to set up a joint laboratory to work on one of these directions in the near future. This will encourage the further development of cooperation on commercialising and industrialising science-intensive projects.
The subcommittee on scientific and technical cooperation held its third sitting in Astana on 13-14 August and defined the principles of work and promising projects in this sphere. I can say that with the development of the Kazakh Industrial-Innovative Development Strategy this aspect of our cooperation will have greater prospects. We will hold a joint exhibition of high technology and products involving many Chinese hi-tech enterprises in Astana on 19 September.
In the education sphere, the relevant agencies of our countries have already signed an agreement on the set up of the Institute of Confucius at the Eurasian University in Astana. In addition, scientific and student exchanges are also expanding. The number of Kazakh students studying in China has exceeded 1,200.
On culture, I would like to note the Days of Chinese Culture that were held in Almaty and Astana in September 2006. Kazakh spectators were impressed by the Dunhuang Yung dance ensemble from Gansu and an exhibition of the Jingdezhen porcelain from Jiangxi. Days of Kazakh Culture will be held in China in October 2007.
Zhang Xiyun was born in Hebei in September 1955. He holds a university degree.1976-1982 – staff member of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Soviet Union and Eastern Europe Department;1982-1986 – attaché, third secretary of the Chinese embassy in the USSR;1986-1988 – third, second secretary of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Soviet Union and Eastern Europe Department;1988-1991 – second secretary of the Chinese embassy in the Soviet Union;1991-1992 – first secretary of the Chinese embassy in Russia;1992-1995 – deputy head, head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Europe and Asia Department;1995-1997 – adviser, aide to inspector at the central office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry;1997-2000 – adviser-envoy of the Chinese embassy in Russia;2000-2001 – plenipotentiary minister of the Chinese embassy in Russia;2001-2005 – Chinese ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Azerbaijan;2005-to present – Chinese ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Kazakhstan.
Married with a daughter.
The People’s Republic of China
Major cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and other cities.
Area: 9.6 million sq. km.
Population: 1.3 billion people
Official language: Mandarin
Currency: the yuan.
China is located in the eastern part of Asia and is washed by waters of western seas of the Pacific. The country covers an area of 9.6 million sq. km. In terms of size, China occupies third place in the world, behind Russia and Canada. To the east it borders North Korea, to the north Mongolia, to the northeast Russia and to the northwest Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, to the west and southeast Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bhutan and to the south Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.
The backbone of China’s political system is the National People’s Congress, which includes deputies from provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities, the special administrative district and the army. The National People’s Congress fulfils legislative functions, amends the constitution and monitors its observance, adopts and endorses the country’s economic and social development programmes and the budget, elects president of China and his deputy, approves premier and other members of the State Council, elects the president of the Central Military Council, the chairman of the Supreme People’s Court and the prosecutor-general of the Supreme People’s Prosecutor’s Office.
The Chinese economy has been booming in recent years. The country’s GDP reached 20,940.7 billion yuan in 2006 (some $2,560bn), up by 10.7% from a year earlier. GDP per capita stands at $2,039.
China’s foreign trade grew by 23.8% to $1,760.7bn in 2006. China trades with over 220 countries now. Its major trade partners are the EU, the USA, Japan, Hong Kong S.A.R., ASEAN countries, South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Australia and Canada.
Since 2002, the country’s main strategy of developing science and technology has switched from copying technology to conducting independent hi-tech research. China is expected to increase its spending on research and development to 2.5% of GDP by 2020. It stood at 1.3% in 2005. As a result, China is already a leader in a number of science and technology spheres.
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