Beijing: China confirmed on Monday that President Xi Jinping will leave the mainland this week to visit Central Asia for the first time in 32 months, where he will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit and meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Xi last stepped out of China in January 2020, when he visited Myanmar, but has remained in the country since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 turned into a global pandemic. turned and the mainland closed. international borders.
Xi’s personal meetings with leaders of other countries were restricted and he focused on virtual diplomacy.
Xi is on a state visit to Kazakhstan on Wednesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Monday, confirming several earlier reports on his imminent foreign visit.
Xi will then meet Putin, as confirmed by Russian diplomats in Beijing and Moscow at the SCO summit in the city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO in Samarkand city and pay a state visit to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan from September 14 to 16,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said. ,
Xi’s high-profile visit – he is the only G20 leader who has not traveled abroad since the pandemic – will take place barely a month before the twice-decade congress of China’s all-important Communist Party (CPC), where he is expected to She goes. Securing a third term as President of China and setting an example as the most powerful leader after Mao Zedong.
Xi’s meeting with Putin will be the first personal meeting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and their meeting is expected to be a Sino-Russian show of unity and strength against the West.
The two leaders are set to deepen the two countries’ “no borders” partnership, a partnership the West is closely watching.
Besides the escalating rift between China-backed Russia and the West over Ukraine, the SCO summit will take place in the backdrop of ongoing border tensions between New Delhi and Beijing.
Xi’s first stop on his visit will be Kazakhstan, a longtime partner, where he will meet with Kazakh President Kasim-Zomart Tokayev.
Xi first announced the land route of his Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013 during a lecture at a university in Kazakhstan.
The Central Asian country is a major supplier of raw materials, including minerals and metals, to China; It also shares a border with Xinjiang.
Most recently, Xi had given strong support to Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who has faced a nationwide uprising, saying Tokayev took decisive and effective action at a critical moment to quickly defuse the situation Was.
In a verbal message to Tokayev published by the official Xinhua news agency, Xi said China rejects any attempts by outside forces to incite unrest in Kazakhstan and provoke “color revolutions” … as well as China and Any attempt to damage the friendship between Kazakhstan and disrupt cooperation between the two countries.
Interestingly, Xi’s visit to Kazakhstan coincides with the visit of Pope Francis to the country.
There is speculation about a possible meeting between the two, although there is no instance of a Chinese leader meeting the Pope.
China and the Vatican are negotiating the renewal of a tentative agreement on the appointment of bishops in the country, a sensitive issue as all religious leaders in China are appointed by the ruling Communist Party.
Founded in Shanghai in June 2001, the SCO consists of eight member states: China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.