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China, Kazakhstan build on a solid foundation
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By Zheng Lifei


For Ikram Adyrbekov, Kazakhstan's ambassador to China, the cultural events that make up the Days of Culture of Kazakhstan in China are symbolic of the strong cultural ties between the two countries.


"I strongly believe that cultural ties provide additional impetus to efforts to promote the genuine strategic partnership proclaimed by presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev and Hu Jintao in 2005," Adyrbekov said.


The ambassador hopes the weeklong cultural gala, which opens today in Beijing, will help Chinese people understand Kazakh culture's blending of tradition and modernity, the Orient and Occident and nomadic and sedentary ways of living.


"The leaders of both states, during their regular and efficient encounters, have consistently accentuated the importance of expanding the cultural and humanitarian spheres," the ambassador said.


"That kind of interaction is regarded as a major tool of grass-roots diplomacy, which has proved quite helpful for 16 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries," he said.


Adyrbekov assumed the ambassadorship in May.


While growing numbers of Chinese people have been visiting Kazakhstan for sightseeing and business in recent years, more and more people from Kazakhstan are also showing interest in China.


The increasing interest of the Kazakh people in China, its civilization, language and culture, "is demonstrated by the fact that now up to 3,000 Kazakh students are studying in Chinese universities and colleges," the ambassador said.


The figure was 1,825 last year, according to Ministry of Education.


"The people of Kazakhstan have strong feelings for China and the Chinese people. It seems quite logical to me since our ancestors lived side-by-side for many centuries, mutually enhancing each other's international politics, everyday life, culture and traditions," Adyrbekov noted.


"Kazakhstan people regard modern China as an influential, constructive and friendly neighbor, which has proved to be a reliable political and economic partner," the ambassador said.


"The Kazakh society and establishment regard the future development of equal and pragmatic interaction as a firm guarantee of the stable and successful development of both Kazakhstan and Central Asia in general," he added.


Yet the cultural and humanitarian ties are just part of the relationship between China and Kazakhstan, which also includes economic, trade and political connections that have been blossoming since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1992.


Kazakhstan is now China's biggest trading partner in Central Asia. The volume of trade between China and Kazakhstan reached $8.3 billion last year. The figure was $370 million in 1992.


The amount of trade between two countries, the ambassador said, is a crucial parameter of bilateral economic cooperation.


The two countries have vowed to make concerted efforts to push the annual volume of bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2015, according to a joint communiqu signed this year during a visit by President Hu Jintao to Kazakhstan in August.


"It's really satisfying that this year Kazakhstan and China will surpass the important psychological milestone of $10 billion worth of bilateral trade," the ambassador said.


Given the brisk expansion of trade in recent years, the two countries could hit their target well ahead of time, possibly by 2010.


Energy cooperation, the ambassador said, is a major part of Sino-Kazakh trade and economic cooperation.


The first stage of the multi-billion-yuan Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline was completed in 2005, and the two countries have agreed to construct a second stage, which will connect China to oil deposits in the Caspian region, the ambassador said.


The net annual output of oil produced by Chinese companies in Kazakhstan, such as Sinopec and CNPC, exceeds 13 million tons, he said.


"For Kazakhstan, the dynamic development of energy cooperation with China is of great importance as it fully corresponds to our desire to diversify export routes for our hydrocarbons," the ambassador said.


However, he said that though the two countries' bilateral economic cooperation is not balanced, they are aware of the problem and have decided to improve the situation.


The two countries have vowed to balance imports and exports and agreed to continue the transition from implementing large-scale oil and gas projects to conducting major cooperation in non-resource fields, according to the communiqu signed in August.


On the political front, "Kazakhstan and China have established very confidential and efficient cooperation in all spheres," the ambassador said.


China has given many security guarantees to Kazakhstan: for not possessing nuclear weapons in 1995; upon the settlement of borders in 1999; an agreement on the use and protection of trans-border rivers in 2001.


Beyond the bilateral framework, Kazakhstan and China have also developed strategic cooperation through various regional and global structures, Adyrbekov said.


The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is one of them, he said.


"Kazakhstan fully supports the main purpose of the SCO," the ambassador said. With regard to its external relations, the SCO is not an exclusive block and is not directed against any other country, region or organization.


"We attach great importance to the SCO and regard cooperation within the organization as a milestone priority of our foreign policy," the Kazakh ambassador said.


(China Daily October 15, 2007)

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