Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to pay a state visit to Kazakhstan on September 14, according to Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov, QazMonitor reports.
During a briefing on Monday, Smadiyarov announced that bilateral talks and signing of documents on bilateral cooperation between the two heads of state are planned as part of the visit program.
He added that this will be Xi's first trip outside of China since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The upcoming visit to Kazakhstan was announced after Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met in the Kazakh capital in June.
Xi Jinping is expected to head to the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) after his visit to Kazakhstan.
At this summit, which will be held on September 15-16 in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, the Chinese leader is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time since the start of the war. China claims a neutral position in the war with Ukraine but supports Russia at the United Nations.
Central Asia in general and Kazakhstan in particular have seen an expansion of Chinese influence in recent years. According to the Ministry of National Economy of Kazakhstan, in the first six months of 2022 trade turnover between Kazakhstan and China was $11.26 billion, the main share of it was taken by Kazakhstan's exports at $6.63 billion.
China has invested tens of billions of dollars in the Kazakh economy, primarily in the lucrative energy sector, and used the country as a launching pad for the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, a strategically important infrastructure and foreign policy project of Xi Jinping.