While Kazakhstan shares more cultural and linguistic similarities with Russia, it is ties with China that are growing ever stronger. The leaders of the two neighboring states have maintained close relations since they established diplomatic contact in 1992, having solved potentially contentious border issues amicably. In addition, they have formed strategic alliances within international organizations and have signed friendly and economically progressive agreements including the China-Kazakhstan Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, the China-Kazakhstan Cooperation Strategy for the 21st Century, and the Blueprint for China-Kazakhstan Economic Cooperation and Development, laying solid groundwork for pragmatic bilateral cooperation in all fields. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, formed in 1996, further highlights their strategic and maturing partnership.
The two countries took a huge step forward in June 2011 as they agreed to upgrade their relationship to an all-round strategic partnership—underlining their international and domestic ties. President Hu Jintao and President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced the importance of their mutual trust and that the strategy was the priority of the foreign policies of both countries. This deep and public recognition of the partnership goes some way to cement the economic relationship.
Undeniably, Kazakhstan’s chief attraction to China is the large and hungry energy market it presents. The Atyrau-Alashankou oil pipeline was developed by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in cooperation with Kazakhstani oil and gas companies KazMunayGas and Kenkyiak-Kumkol. Construction of a natural gas pipeline between the two countries has also been discussed. The proposed 792-kilometer pipeline has an initial transportation capacity of 10 million tons per year. In the second phase, stations along the whole pipeline will be renovated and expanded so as to boost the transportation capacity to 20 million tons per year.
Yet the economic bond goes further than energy. Not only does Kazakhstan have additional national resources to export, including uranium, but both countries have developed additional cooperation sectors. Each year, Kazakhstan sends officers to training programs at Chinese military academies. Kazakhstan is also tapping the potential of cooperating with Chinese companies in the petrochemical industry, machine building, and other non-raw material economic sectors.
The physical embodiment of Kazakhstani-Chinese relations is Khorgos—the international border cooperation center. The facility is expected to become a cornerstone for regional economic and trade cooperation and the setting up of joint ventures when it opens in 2012. Set up on the border towns of Khorgos (both towns in China and Kazakhstan share the name), the dry port will promote intensive development of the economy in the Almaty region, the development and improvement of transport, engineering, and tourism infrastructure, increased traffic, the emergence of new places of employment, the raising of local living standards, as well as foreign investment.
© The Business Year