Expanding horizons: The rise of Kazakhstan - China cooperation

China and Kazakhstan
Photo credit: press service of the Kazakh MFA

Today, as part of the “Golden 30 Years” of cooperation, Kazakhstan and China are actively expanding their interactions, as evidenced by the launch of the “open skies” regime and a number of joint projects. The areas of cooperation between the two countries encompass various fields, including trade, the oil and gas sector, tourism, and education, all stimulated by the visa-free regime and the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. This proximity and promising joint projects were highlighted by sinologist Adil Kaukenov, reports Kazinform News Agency correspondent.

“Kazakhstan-China relations are currently on the rise. There are a large number of projects, and many agreements are being signed. For example, one of the latest breakthroughs is the launch of the “open skies” regime between Kazakhstan and China. The Ministry of Transport reported that an agreement on the 5th freedom of the air for Kazakh airlines in China was reached, opening up certain opportunities for Kazakh passenger and cargo transportation,” said Kaukenov.

As neighboring countries, Kazakhstan and China benefit from their geographical proximity and China’s status as the world’s second-largest economy, providing significant opportunities for Kazakhstan.

These collaborations, whether in transportation, logistics, or various other fields, enable the generation of profits. It’s important to highlight that Kazakhstani products exported to China, particularly in the oil and gas as well as the food sectors, are notably high in terms of production costs.

“Therefore, there is a fairly consistent inflow of currency from China to Kazakhstan, along with large investments and technological projects. Today, China is one of the world’s technological giants after the United States. Thus, by relying on such cooperation with China, Kazakhstan is able to either already implement or lay the groundwork for the implementation of quite ambitious projects,” explains Adil Kaukenov.

For Kazakhstan, a transit country bridging Europe and Asia, the “One Belt, One Road” initiative is very timely and convenient. Kazakhstan has supported it from the start, recognizing its direct benefits. The number of container trains has increased significantly, prompting the construction of a third railway line, in addition to the existing Dostyk and Khorgos lines, adds Kaukenov.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasizes the Trans-Caspian route’s importance, connecting China and Europe, with additional routes southward through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to the Middle East. Numerous transcontinental projects are underway, including trains from Yiwu to the UK and Germany passing through Kazakhstan.

“In our country, a new profession has even emerged - logistician. A huge number of logistics companies have opened on a massive scale, and there is a demand for logisticians who know Chinese language. This is because Kazakhstan has taken on an important role in the movement of goods between Asia and Europe,” acknowledges Kaukenov.

Recently, the Majilis adopted a bill according to which a Kazakh cultural center will open in China, and a similar center will appear in our country as well. The expert explains that their presence has long been necessary because the countries share a border, especially since China is just a few hours’ drive from Almaty.

“Our business community focuses on China, particularly in educational projects, due to China’s advances in robotics, computing, and space missions, which generate significant interest in Chinese education. This mutual interest makes cultural centers essential,” said sinologist expert.

Previous efforts to establish cultural centers were private ventures without government backing, which resulted in their shutdown. Cultural centers supported by the state, set up through bilateral agreements, tend to have greater longevity. Nevertheless, their effectiveness hinges on how they are managed and led. As of now, only the initial significant move has been made, concludes Adil Kaukenov.

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