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Kazakhstan leader meets China’s Xinjiang party chief

#Kazakhstan #leader #meets #Chinas #Xinjiang #party #chief

Kazakhstan’s president on Monday hailed “eternal friendship” with Beijing as he met with the ruling party chief in China’s Xinjiang region.

Beijing has long been accused of rights violations against the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the northwestern region.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a Mandarin speaker, welcomed the “deepening all-round cooperation with China” as he met with the Xinjiang Communist Party secretary, Kazakhstan’s presidency said Monday.

China is among key investors in energy-rich Kazakhstan, the largest country in ex-Soviet Central Asia.

Ma Xingrui said that Kazakhstan was a “priority area” of mutual cooperation.

“In general, China’s cooperation with Kazakhstan is carried out through Xinjiang,” Ma added. 

Xinjiang, a region in northwestern China, shares a border with Kazakhstan. 

Around 1.5 million ethnic Kazakhs live in Xinjiang while Kazakhstan is home to a large Uyghur diaspora. 

Beijing stands accused of detaining over one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang — including some Kazakhs — under security measures Washington and some lawmakers in other Western countries have labelled a “genocide”.

China denies the allegations, saying its actions are aimed at combating terrorism.

China’s leader Xi Jinping in September last year travelled to Kazakhstan on his first trip abroad since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. 

This month Xi invited the leaders of the five ex-Soviet Central Asian countries including Kazakhstan to attend “the first China-Central Asia” summit, in May.

The authoritarian republics of Central Asia were part of the Soviet Union and have been dominated by Moscow since the mid-19th century.

But Russia’s influence is being challenged, increasingly since the invasion of Ukraine, with Beijing courting Moscow’s traditional allies in the region.

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