President Serdar Berdimuhamedov is visiting China, 5-6 January 2023. The summit talks with President Xi Jinping will take place today (6 January 2023) in Beijing.
The Chinese media is giving wide coverage to the visit. The prominent media outlets and commentators are expecting major developments in the quality and content of bilateral relations during this visit.
CGTN, the global TV channel of China, has aired a documentary on the milestones of partnership between Turkmenistan and China. The title of the documentary is: ‘The fruits of China-Turkmenistan ties.’ Its length is 3:46 minutes, unusual for the prime news slot.
The other electronic and print media outlets have also given positive and optimistic reports on the visit and its likely outcomes.
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The daily Global Times, a newspaper with international reach and influence has published an article by Liu Xin and Liu Caiyu in its issue of 5 January 2023.
It is produced here in its entirety because of its significance:
By Liu Xin and Liu Caiyu
Published: Jan 05, 2023 10:22 PM
President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov is expected to pay a state visit to China from Thursday to Friday at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Observers said that being one of the first foreign leaders to be received by China in 2023 reflects the unusual nature of China-Turkmenistan relations. Significant achievements including practical economic and energy cooperation are likely to be reached during the visit.
The announcement of the visit by the Turkmen president to China comes just a few months after the meeting with Chinese President Xi in the Uzbek city of Samarkand on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit (SCO Summit) in September.
“A breakthrough and significant results are expected from the high-level meeting. In a year full of expectations, as COVID-19 restrictions have now been eased, China-Turkmenistan cooperation is believed to lean toward more cooperation efforts in practical economic fields, especially projects under the Belt and Road initiative,” Yang Jin, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
President Berdimuhamedov is expected to discuss ways to expand energy cooperation with China, and both countries may also sign documents on cooperation under the Belt and Road initiative, Zhu Yongbiao, executive director of the Research Center for the Belt and Road at Lanzhou University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
The Turkmen president’s priority visit to China reflects its importance and special significance to Turkmenistan under the great changes taking place in the global energy landscape. With abundant natural gas resources, Turkmenistan has attracted the attention of Turkey and gas-starved European countries, while Russia also wants closer ties with the Central Asian country to further consolidate its traditional sphere of influence, according to Ding Xiaoxing, director of the Eurasia institute of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
Turkmenistan is one of the biggest suppliers of natural gas to China and has played an important role in China’s efforts to ensure energy security, analysts said.
Turkmenistan is also a key country in the China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline project – China’s first transnational gas pipeline that runs from the border of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, passes through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and links up with China’s Xinjiang region.
With a total length of 1,833 kilometers and a designed annual gas transmission capacity of 60 billion cubic meters, the pipeline was put into service in December 2009, and its highest daily transport volume has exceeded 160 million cubic meters, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
Turkmenistan was an important pivot along the Ancient Silk Road and served as a link between Central, West and South Asia. It has actively promoted domestic infrastructure construction, including airports and other major projects, and has high expectations for these to link up with BRI projects so as to further improve its own development and boost regional connectivity, Zhu told the Global Times.
Fields such as infrastructure construction, technology, new energy and digital economy are likely to yield more substantial results after the meeting between the two leaders, Yang noted.
The top leaders may also exchange views on some key issues and the regional security situation, including Afghanistan and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, said Zhu.
Other countries have also been paying more attention to Central Asia in recent years. Zhu noted that both the US and the EU have promoted their own strategies in the area to bring about more cooperation with regional countries. For example, in order to put the initiated C5+1 format into practical operation, then US Secretary of State John Kerry made a tour of Central Asia in early November 2015.
China has always attached great importance to its relations with Central Asian countries, and Berdimuhamedov’s visit will further boost bilateral relations and further strengthen China’s ties with Central Asia, injecting more certainty into regional development, said Zhu.
Based on the “China+Central Asia” Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the mechanism of “China+Central Asia” among state leaders has agreed to be established, which will inject a force of solidarity into the region as the political, security and economic patterns of the Eurasian region undergo drastic changes, observers noted.
At the meeting between President Xi and Berdimuhamedov on the sidelines of the SCO Summit, Xi noted the need to accelerate cooperation in non-resource fields. He mentioned the setting up of cultural centers as soon as possible to provide a new platform for people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two nations.
The Chinese side is ready to set up a Luban workshop in Turkmenistan at an early date and continue to strengthen COVID-19 response cooperation with the country, Xi noted.
Link to this Global Times article
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This is not the first meeting between the two presidents. They have already met in September 2022 on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Samarkand.
Xinhua, the official news agency of China, published a well-rounded report on the results of the meeting.
We are producing it here in full because it can serve as backgrounder for the summit meeting that is taking place today:
SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) — China is ready to continuously advance the development of relations with Turkmenistan for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries, Chinese President Xi Jinping said at a meeting with Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov here Thursday morning.
Xi Jinping said that since China and Turkmenistan established diplomatic relations 30 years ago, bilateral relations between the two countries have been developing steadily, steadily and steadily, and the strategic partnership has reached a high level.
China always considers Sino-Turkmenistan relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, respects Turkmenistan’s chosen development path that is in line with its own national circumstances, and opposes any outside interference in Turkmenistan’s internal affairs and the process of stability and development, Xi said, adding that China will continue work with Turkmenistan to firmly support each other.
Xi Jinping stressed the need for both sides to increase the scale of cooperation in the field of natural gas and give new impetus to the development and revitalization of the two countries.
He noted the need to accelerate cooperation in non-core areas and combine the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with Turkmenistan’s strategy to revive the Great Silk Road.
Xi said the two sides should start mutually establishing cultural centers as soon as possible to provide a new platform for interpersonal and cultural exchanges between the two countries.
According to him, the Chinese side is ready to organize a seminar in Lyuban in Turkmenistan in the near future and continue to strengthen cooperation with Turkmenistan in the field of response to COVID-19.
The Chinese side is ready to strengthen cooperation with the Turkmen side under the China + Central Asia (C + C5) meeting mechanism, implement the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, strengthen international coordination, uphold the concurrent interests of developing countries, and contribute to world peace and development , said the Chinese president.
Berdimuhamedov wished the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CCP) every success and expressed confidence that under the wise leadership of President Xi, the 20th National Congress of the CPC will chart China’s future development and lead China to great achievements.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkmenistan and China 30 years ago, bilateral relations have developed smoothly, and cooperation in various fields has expanded, the president said.
Turkmenistan, Berdimuhamedov said, highly values its strategic partnership with China and is ready to further deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with China in various fields, including economy and trade, natural gas, cross-border transportation, and interpersonal and cultural exchanges.
Turkmenistan firmly supports the principle of one China and firmly supports China in protecting its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the president said.
According to him, Turkmenistan supports a number of major initiatives put forward by China, which contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security and the achievement of the sustainable development goals of the United Nations.
Turkmenistan is ready to work with China to create closer synergy between the OBOR and Turkmenistan’s strategy to revive the Great Silk Road, as well as work closely with China in the multilateral framework of the United Nations, through the mechanism of C + C5 meetings and so on.
The event was attended by Ding Xuexiang, Yang Jiechi, Wang Yi, He Lifeng and other officials.
Link to this Xinhua report
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The Turkmen media outlet Orient.tm has given the figures on the trade volume between Turkmenistan and China. According to Orient, Turkmenistan’s exports to China in January-October 2022 increased by more than 78% compared to the same period in 2021, approaching 7 billion US dollars (according to statistics – 6,969.6 million), which makes China the largest market for the promotion Turkmen products.
Link to Orient news story
At the same time, over the first 10 months of last year, Turkmenistan increased imports from China by 66.6% (612.5 million dollars).
It should be noted that in 2021, China ranked first in terms of exports of Turkmenistan with the amount of more than 4.9 billion dollars, and in 2020 this figure slightly exceeded 4 billion. In terms of imports, China ranked 4th in 2021 ($455.9 million). /// nCa, 6 January 2023 [Picture credit TDH]