The leaders of the former Soviet republics of Central Asia were invited by Chinese President Xi Jinping in May to the first "
" summit, Beijing strengthening its footprint in this region where the former tutelary power Russia, mired in Ukraine, is disputed.
In congratulatory telegrams sent separately on Monday and Tuesday on the occasion of Nowruz - a traditional festival marking the arrival of spring and the Persian New Year - Xi Jinping invites the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to May for the "
first China-Central Asia Summit
Region coveted by China
These four countries published the telegram.
Turkmenistan, a reclusive state and main supplier of gas to Beijing, has not yet communicated.
These authoritarian countries are part of the "
New Silk Roads
", a gigantic road, rail and port infrastructure project initiated by China.
Russia, which has considered Central Asia as its backyard since the middle of the 19th century, sees its role contested and its traditional regional allies coveted by China, Turkey and Western countries.
This trend has accelerated since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, although Moscow retains powerful levers of influence.
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In recent months, in addition to Xi Jinping, Russian and Turkish Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, European Council President Charles Michel and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken have visited Central Asia.
Finally, an online summit in the 5+1 format organized by Xi took place in January 2022 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-Central Asian diplomatic relations after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Deepen the links
The four telegrams are similar, with Xi Jinping insisting on deepening ties between China and Central Asia.
According to the telegram published by the official Tajik Khovar news agency, Xi Jinping even said he was “
looking forward to discussing a grandiose plan for the development of relations between China and Central Asia
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However, this growing influence of China is not without provoking a certain fear and opposition among the population, particularly in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
The land question, the growing debt to Beijing and the repression exerted by Beijing in Xinjiang against the Uyghurs - a Muslim ethnic group also living in Central Asia - are the main stumbling blocks.