Xi Jinping pledges $500 million in aid for Central Asian nations

Xi Jinping pledges $500 million in aid for Central Asian nations

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged $500 million in aid to Central Asian nations, saying China will support them to "walk their own paths" and defend their sovereignty.

Xi announced the aid on Tuesday during a virtual meeting with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

He said the funds would be provided "in the next three years, to be used on projects involving people's livelihoods", according to state broadcaster CCTV.

The Chinese president called for more strategic communication to build trust and unity in the region and to pursue "mutual prosperity" and development.

"No matter how international politics evolves, no matter to what degree China's development reaches, China will always be a reliable and trustworthy neighbour, partner, friend and brother to Central Asian countries," Xi was quoted as saying.

"China resolutely supports Central Asian countries to walk their own paths. China will resolutely support these countries to defend their own sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and to pursue rejuvenation of their civilisations and unity ... [and] to play greater roles on the global stage."

In addition to the financial aid, Xi said China would provide 50 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to the five nations this year and that it was willing to transfer vaccine production technology.

The president said Beijing was ready to open its "mega market" to agricultural exports from Central Asia, push forward the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway project, and expand cooperation on energy and technology in areas such as AI, big data and cloud services.