2019 is an extraordinary year in the history of Chinese-Kazakh relations. This year, the first transfer of power since independence took place in Kazakhstan, and China is celebrating an important historical holiday – the 70th anniversary of the republic’s formation.
The first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, visited China in April to participate in the II Forum of International Cooperation “One Belt, One Road”; Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China Han Zheng arrived in Kazakhstan to participate in the XII Astana Economic Forum and the II Forum of Chinese-Kazakh Interregional Cooperation; Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Li Zhanshu visited Kazakhstan and took part in the IV Meeting of Speakers of Parliaments of the Eurasian countries.

It is especially worth noting that the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev successfully made his first state visit to China. The two heads of state unanimously decided to bring the Sino-Kazakh relations to a new level of eternal comprehensive strategic partnership, thus they carried out a smooth transition and the rise of bilateral relations, which opened up broad prospects for the development of Sino-Kazakh relations in a new era.

Looking back at the history of the development of Chinese-Kazakh relations, we can say that close contacts at the highest level are always maintained between the two countries, mutual political trust is continuously deepening, pragmatic cooperation is comprehensively carried out, and humanitarian exchanges are actively developing. China and Kazakhstan are real good neighbors, reliable partners and loyal brothers.
The leaders of the two countries have established stable working relations and deep personal friendship. For 27 years since the independence of Kazakhstan, thanks to the personal interest and joint promotion of the First President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and the leaders of China, relations between China and Kazakhstan have stood the test of time and changes in the world community. From the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992 to the signing of the Treaty on Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation in 2002, from the establishment of a strategic partnership in 2005 to the development of a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2011, step by step, Chinese-Kazakh relations are constantly moving to new heights and making new breakthroughs.

After being elected President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stressed that the development of relations with China will remain the main priority direction of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. Currently, China-Kazakhstan relations have entered a new stage of eternal comprehensive strategic partnership and have reached the highest level in history.
Six years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time put forward the initiative of joint construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt in Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan was the first to express its support for this initiative. For six years, China and Kazakhstan have been actively working on combining the “One Belt and One Road” initiative with the new economic policy “Nurly Zhol”, in every possible way promoting trade and economic, energy, infrastructure, financial, scientific and technical cooperation, achieving fruitful results.
In terms of trade and economic cooperation, China has become the second largest trading partner and the main source of investment of Kazakhstan, as well as one of the main export markets for Kazakhstani manufacturers.

In 2018, the volume of trade between China and Kazakhstan reached $ 19.885 billion, of which Kazakhstan’s exports to China reached $ 8.535 billion, an increase of almost 30% year-on-year. The volume of agricultural trade between China and Kazakhstan increased to $ 596 million, an increase of 18.13% compared to the same period last year. Among them, the export of agricultural products to China increased by 37.6%. Kazakhstan has successfully signed an agreement on the export of more than 20 types of agricultural and livestock products to China, such as meat and dairy products, more and more green products from the Kazakh steppes are coming to the homes of ordinary Chinese. Since 2019, the Chinese-Kazakh trade has maintained a good growth dynamics. According to China’s customs statistics, from January to June of this year, the volume of trade between China and Kazakhstan amounted to $ 9.53 billion, an increase of 9.2% year-on-year. Among them, China’s exports to Kazakhstan amounted to 5.08 billion rubles. Imports from Kazakhstan amounted to 4.45 billion dollars, an increase of 2.0% year-on-year, an increase of 18.6% year-on-year.

As part of the cooperation of production facilities, 55 Chinese-Kazakh joint projects worth more than $ 27.4 billion are being successfully implemented. The modernization of the Shymkent oil refinery and the Atyrau oil Refinery was completed, thus, Kazakhstan not only provided itself with high-quality refined oil, but also got the opportunity to export it to neighboring countries. A wind power plant (WPP) with a capacity of 5 MW and a Solar power plant (SES) with a capacity of 1 MW were built by China and donated to Kazakhstan free of charge, which gave a powerful incentive to the development of local “green energy”. The Golden Camel milk powder production plant was completed and put into operation in the Turkestan region, the annual production capacity of which reached 2500 tons, which increased employment and opened new markets for the export of dairy products.

In the field of infrastructure interconnectedness, in 2018, China and Kazakhstan carried out cargo transportation of about 13.98 million tons on the basis of the “One Belt and One Road”, which is 38% more than in the same period last year. Of these, Kazakhstan transported 8.5 million tons of cargo to China, which is 54% more than last year. A total of 2,388 freight trains passed through the Alashankou checkpoint as part of the China-Europe international transportation project with 1.23 million tons of cargo, an increase of almost 50% compared to the previous year; The number of China-Europe container trains passing through the Khorgos checkpoint has increased to 404.The Kazakhstan section of the Western Europe – Western China road corridor has been fully commissioned, and for the first time in history, bilateral door-to-door cargo transportation has been carried out between China and Europe. Transit transport services create approximately 50,000 jobs with direct economic benefits of $ 460 million.
As for financial cooperation, China strongly supports the construction of the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC). The Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Silk Road Fund are actively involved in cooperation with the Center, the Development Bank of China is opening a representative office in the AIFC. The Construction Bank of China, the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China have opened branches in Nur-Sultan. The two sides are actively negotiating the creation of a regional settlement and clearing center for operations in yuan, which will create conditions for a higher level and large-scale financial cooperation.


The main thing in relations between countries is the close feelings of sympathy between their peoples. Close ties between the peoples are an integral part of the China-Kazakhstan eternal comprehensive strategic partnership. The two countries are connected by common mountains and rivers, they are adjacent to each other, which creates good historical traditions and unique geographical advantages for the development of humanitarian exchanges between peoples. Bilateral cooperation is flourishing in such areas as tourism, education, culture, and so on.

Currently, about 15,000 Kazakhstani students study in China, more than 1,400 Chinese students study in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has opened six Kazakh language and cultural centers and centers of economic and social research in China. Five Confucius institutes conduct classes in Kazakhstan.
In 2019, the culmination of humanitarian exchanges between the two countries came. The first joint film “The Composer” was successfully released, China held a “Cinema Week” in Kazakhstan, the managing staff of Kazakhstani museums underwent an internship in China. The two countries held a number of events within the framework of the Year of Youth announced in Kazakhstan. Groups of university teachers and students, a Chinese language teacher and secondary school students, representatives of the youth of Shymkent visited China. The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Kazakhstan presented educational materials on the Chinese language to secondary schools of Kazakhstan. There are a number of exchanges between the leading universities of China and educational institutions of Kazakhstan. The number of Kazakhstani students studying in China is constantly growing.

For 27 years, China-Kazakhstan relations have gone beyond the usual bilateral cooperation and have become an example of harmonious coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation between the countries.
Kazakhstan decided to give up nuclear weapons, and China became one of the countries that promised Kazakhstan nuclear protection. China highly appreciates Kazakhstan’s efforts to create a nuclear-free zone in Central Asia and its contribution to the creation of the IAEA Low-Enriched Uranium Bank in Kazakhstan.

China and Kazakhstan closely cooperate within the framework of multilateral mechanisms such as the UN, SCO, CICA, etc., closely cooperate in the fight against the” three forces of evil ” and ensuring regional security and stability, jointly make efforts to ensure international justice, promote economic globalization and support the multilateral trading system, and strive to ensure that the international order and the international system develop in a more just and rational direction.

Currently, the world is facing serious changes over the past 100 years: China and Kazakhstan are at a new historical starting point and are committed to the great cause of national development and construction. Kazakhstan is accelerating the promotion of the new economic policy “Nurly Zhol” and “Strategy” Kazakhstan-2050″, is taking great steps to achieve national revival and prosperity of the country.
China is also working tirelessly to achieve the goals of the “Two Centuries” and implement the great revival of the Chinese nation. China and Kazakhstan are developing countries and are at a key stage of reform and development. The main interests largely coincide, and the development strategy has a lot in common. Bilateral relations and mutually beneficial cooperation have a solid foundation and are mutually complementary, which have very bright prospects.
We are confident that under the strategic leadership and personal efforts of the two heads of state, the China-Kazakhstan relations of the eternal comprehensive strategic partnership will continue to develop in a stable and long-term way, will create a more stable, practical and active new environment, will reach a higher and better level.


Zhang Xiao is the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The material is published in the” Bulletin of Diplomacy ” No. 4, 2019, the official publication of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Published by the Center for the Study of China with the permission of the editorial board.

China Studies Centre,

Nur-Sultan, 2019

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