President Xi Jinping proposes to build a Silk Road Economic Belt with Central Asian countries

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On Sept. 7, 2013, President Xi Jinping made a speech titled "Promote People-to-People Friendship and Create a Better Future" at Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev University. He spoke highly of the traditional friendship between China and Kazakhstan, and gave a comprehensive elaboration of China's policy of good-neighbourly and friendly cooperation toward countries in Central Asia. He proposed to join hands building a Silk Road economic belt with innovative cooperation mode and to make it a grand cause benefiting people in regional countries along the route.

Around 10:30 a.m. local time, Xi Jinping, accompanied by President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, stepped into the conference hall.

Amid warm applause, Xi Jinping made an important speech.

Xi Jinping expressed that more than 2,100 years ago, during China's Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), imperial envoy Zhang Qian was sent to Central Asia twice to open the door to friendly contacts between China and Central Asian countries as well as the transcontinental Silk Road linking East and West, Asia and Europe. Kazakhstan, as a major stop along the ancient Silk Road, has made important contributions to the exchanges and cooperation between different nationalities and cultures. People in regional countries created the history of friendship along the ancient Silk Road through the ages.

Xi Jinping pointed out that the 2,000-plus-year history of exchanges had proved that countries with differences in race, belief and cultural background can absolutely share peace and development as long as they persist in unity and mutual trust, equality and mutual benefit, mutual tolerance and learning from each other, as well as cooperation and win-win outcomes.

Xi underscored that over the 20-plus years, the ancient Silk Road is becoming full of new vitality with the rapid development of China's relations with Asian and European countries. It is a foreign-policy priority for China to develop the friendly cooperative relations with the Central Asian countries. We hope to work with Central Asian countries to unceasingly enhance mutual trust, to consolidate friendship, to strengthen cooperation, so as to push forward the common development and prosperity, and work for the happiness and well-being of the people in the regional countries.

Xi Jinping raised the following proposals: to uphold the friendship from generation to generation and to be harmonious good neighbours for each other. China respects the development path as well as the domestic and foreign policies Central Asian people have independently chosen for themselves. China will never intervene in internal affairs of Central Asian countries, seek leadership in regional affairs, or operate sphere of influence. To strengthen mutual support and to be good friends with sincerity and mutual trust. On the issues concerning the major core interests, including the state sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and stability, we should firmly support each other and make joint efforts to crack down on the "three evil forces" of terrorism, extremism and separatism, as well as drug trafficking, transnational organized crime. To vigorously strengthen the practical cooperation and to be good partners with mutual benefit and win-win opportunities. We should turn the advantage of political relations, the geographical advantage, and the economic complementary advantage into advantages for practical cooperation and for sustainable growth, so as to build a community of interests. We should create new brilliance with a more open mind and a broader vision to expand regional cooperation. By strengthening the cooperation between the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Community, we can gain a greater space for development.

Xi Jinping proposed that in order to make the economic ties closer, mutual cooperation deeper and space of development broader between the Eurasian countries, we can innovate the mode of cooperation and jointly build the "Silk Road Economic Belt" step by step to gradually form overall regional cooperation. First, to strengthen policy communication. Countries in the region can communicate with each other on economic development strategies, and make plans and measures for regional cooperation through consultations. Second, to improve road connectivity. To open up the transportation channel from the Pacific to the Baltic Sea and to gradually form a transportation network that connects East Asia, West Asia, and South Asia. Third, to promote trade facilitation. All the parties should discuss the issues concerning trade and investment facilitation and make appropriate arrangements. Fourth, to enhance monetary circulation. All the parties should promote the realization of exchange and settlement of local currency, increase the ability to fend off financial risks and make the region more economically competitive in the world. Fifth, to strengthen people-to-people exchanges. All the parties should strengthen the friendly exchanges between their peoples to promote understanding and friendship with each other.

Xi Jinping finally said that China and Kazakhstan are friendly neighbours as close as lips and teeth. A 1,700-plus-kilometer common border, more than 2,000 years of exchanges and broad common interests, bind us together and open up broad prospects for the development of relations between the two countries. Youth is the future of the nation, as well as the major force of the friendship between the people in the two countries. I believe, the young people of the two countries will become the messenger of China-Kazakhstan friendship and contribute their youth and strength to the development of bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership. Let us join hands to carry forward the traditional friendship and create a better future.

Xi Jinping also answered questions from students. When answering questions on environmental protection, Xi Jinping stressed that the construction of ecological civilization is about not only the well-being of the people, but also the future development of the nation. China must take a new path of development for the realization of industrialization, urbanization, informatization, and modernization of agriculture. China clearly puts the protection of the ecological environment in a more prominent position. We need not only economic growth but also good ecological environment, and we prefer good ecological environment rather than economic growth. In fact, good ecological environment itself is a valuable wealth. We must not pursue economic development at the expense of ecological environment. We have put forward a strategic task of the construction of ecological civilization and the building of a more beautiful China with blue sky, green space, and clean water for future generations.

Nazarbayev said in his speech that Kazakhstan and China are good neighbours, good friends and good partners. The bilateral relations have made considerable progress. The Kazakh side thanked for China's support and help, and believed President Xi Jinping's visit would surely promote bilateral mutually beneficial cooperation, and bring the Kazakhstan-China comprehensive strategic partnership to a new high. The Kazakh side fully agreed with the strategic vision of building the "Silk Road Economic Belt" proposed by President Xi Jinping. Kazakhstan is willing to strengthen economic, transportation, people-to-people and cultural connectivity with China, to jointly build a new Silk Road.

Xi Jinping as well took over from Nazarbayev the certificate of honorary professor granted by Nazarbayev University.

Xi Jinping, accompanied by Nazarbayev, also visited the campus model and engineering laboratory of the university.

Wang Huning, Li Zhanshu, Yang Jiechi and others were present. Officials from Kazakhstan, and foreign diplomats in Kazakhstan also attended the lecture.

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