Leaders meet to boost Sino-Kazakh relations
Updated: 2012-04-01 07:31
By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
Premier Wen Jiabao and his Kazakh counterpart met on Saturday for the first regular meeting between the two countries' government heads, setting up a top-level channel to talk about cooperation between the neighbors.
The establishment of the mechanism is a major step to push up the comprehensive strategic partnership that the presidents of the two countries agreed to last year, Wen told Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Karim Masimov at the start of their talks at the Great Hall of the People.
"It will certainly strengthen overall coordination of the two sides in all fields so as to resolve major issues and create new cooperation fields," Wen said.
A press release issue by China's Foreign Ministry after the meeting said the two premiers pledged to beef up cooperation in fields including energy and trade. They signed a joint communique after the talks.
Masimov arrived in Beijing on Friday for a four-day official visit.
He also met Vice-President Xi Jinping earlier on Saturday and arrived in the southern island province of Hainan Saturday night to attend the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2012.
A profile story about Masimov that the Xinhua News Agency issued on the eve of the visit shows the Kazakh prime minister has a deep knowledge of China.
Born in 1965, Masimov graduated from Beijing Language and Culture University, Wuhan University's Law School and Kazakhstan's State Academy of Management. Masimov started his career as a senior economist in Kazakhstan's Ministry of Labor, and worked as specialist in the China office of the Kazakh Ministry of External Economic Affairs based in Urumqi, the capital city of China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. He has also held positions such as managing director of the Kazakh Trading House in Hong Kong.
Masimov first became prime minister in January 2007 and started his second term in April 2011.
Chen Yurong, director of the Department of Eurasian Studies with the China Institute of International Studies, said the mechanism of the premiers' regular meeting is a signal of escalated cooperation and mutual trust between the two countries. It not only focuses on the economy but also covers political and security issues.
"Compared with the ministerial talks we had before, regular face-to-face meetings between the premiers will give a big boost to our cooperation, especially on large projects such as those on energy," she said.
As for Masimov's extensive China knowledge, Chen said it is not unusual in Central Asian countries.
"With Beijing exerting stronger influence in the region, governments of Central Asian countries now prefer senior officials with a China background, which means deeper understanding of Chinese affairs and an easier way to handle relations with Beijing," she added.
Masimov's visit has come two days after Xinjiang, in Northwest China bordering Kazakhstan, announced plans to increase trade with Kazakhstan by 18 percent this year.
The Kazakh Senate said earlier turnover between Kazakhstan and China had topped $20 billion in 2011. Now China is Kazakhstan's second-largest trading partner and top export destination.
Close commercial links with China have made Kazakhstan more attractive on the world market.
Robert Hormats, US under secretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, said last week that given Kazakhstan's "central role as a transit hub for EU-China trade" and its growing commercial potential, Kazakhstan is almost certain to emerge as a vital avenue for private US business engagement on the New Silk Road.
Hormats made the remarks at a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia hearing on Tuesday, Silk Road Newsline reported.