Beijing signs trade and investment agreements with 5 countries during the Central Asia Summit.


On Friday, China’s first summit with the presidents of five countries in Central Asia came to an end with a number of agreements that would strengthen bilateral trade, investment, and security relations.

President Xi Jinping announced an initial financial assistance and grant commitment of US$3.8 billion to the area and said that the government will promote the establishment of Chinese-funded companies in the five nations, resulting in the creation of employment and economic growth.

The connection between China and Central Asia is rooted in history, motivated by widespread real-world demands, and based on strong public support. In his keynote address, Xi stated. “In the new era, our relationships are bursting with vigor and vitality.”

With regard to Xinjiang, where 11 million Uyghurs, the majority of whom are Muslims, live under increasing oppressive Chinese rule through detention in “re-education” camps, torture, and forced labor, China signed a comprehensive strategic partnership with neighboring Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan committed to helping Beijing maintain security and stability there.

The “three forces of terrorism, extremism, and separatism,” including “East Turkistan terrorist forces,” a reference to the Uyghurs’ desired name for their country, were agreed to be jointly fought by China and Kyrgyzstan.

failing to notice

Human rights organizations and Uyghur supporters said that despite having comparable religious and cultural beliefs with the Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, and Tajiks, authorities from the five Central Asian countries did little to stop China from repressing these people.

The World Uyghur Congress, or WUC, said that it strongly denounced the practice of putting Chinese influence and expansionism in Central Asia before of halting the continuing genocide of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in order to advance economic and commercial connections.

“Central Asian governments have followed suit on the brutal treatment and intimidation the Chinese government displays against Uyghurs and other Turkic people,” WUC President Dolkun Isa said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“These neighboring countries have failed to live up to their commitments and to save Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, and Tajiks from the ongoing genocide being committed against them,” he said.

Cleaning up China’s reputation

Through trade, investment, and diplomatic engagement, China is keen to increase its influence in the area.

Ma Xingrui, the Communist Party secretary for Xinjiang, met with the senior officials from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan in March because Central Asia has become so important to China.

The mostly Muslim Xinjiang area has linkages to Central Asia on an ethnic, religious, and commercial level, making it the perfect location for Beijing’s outreach to countries considered essential for boosting commerce, guaranteeing energy security, and preserving peace in Xinjiang.

The vice-chairman of the WUC’s executive committee and American political analyst Ilshat Hassan Kokbore said that China was bolstering its ties with Central Asian nations in order to influence international discussions on the continuing genocide of Uyghurs.

For example, “sanitizing China’s image, providing diplomatic cover for the atrocities, or promoting China’s narrative that there is no genocide,” he added.

Gulbahar Jelilova, a Uyghur businesswoman from Kazakhstan who survived a Xinjiang “re-education” camp, said that no Kazakh official or minister questioned her about her suffering or the cause for her arrest. Jelilova had been engaged in cross-border commerce for 20 years prior to 2017.

Jelilova, who was seized on suspicion of “aiding terrorism” while on a business trip to Xinjiang and interned in three separate camps over the course of 15 months starting in May 2017, stated, “I was so disheartened by them that I left Kazakhstan and moved to Turkey.”

According to Jelilova, she is against a new visa policy that grants Chinese visitors a 30-day visa-free stay in Kazakhstan since many of them will remain there after their visas expire and prevent Uyghurs from Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan from traveling to their home countries.

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