China is expanding its media footprint in Kazakhstan, as Beijing strives to ensure favorable coverage of its regional economic and diplomatic activities. The Kazakh media holding company Atameken Business recently announced the signing of an information-sharing memorandum with the China Media Group (CMG), a state-controlled entity also known as the VoiceofChina. According to the document, Atameken Business channels will air news, programming and documentaries about China provided by CMG, or produced in cooperation with it. “Now Kazakhstanis will be able to learn better about their eastern neighbor,” an article published by an Atameken Business affiliate stated. Atameken Business already broadcasts China-provided programming; the memo outlines plans for a significant expansion of such content. The financial details of the media arrangement were not immediately disclosed.
Kazakhstan and China are close to finalizing an agreement that will enable both states to keep closer tabs on citizens’ cross-border movements. The Kazakh Senate ratified a bilateral pact providing for information exchanges concerning citizens of both countries, including dual nationals, the Zakon.kz outlet reported. A presidential signature is the last step needed before the agreement goes into effect. The pact mandates the sharing of data concerning visas issued, visa-free visits to both countries, entry and overstay violations. According to Kazakhstan’s deputy interior minister, Igor Lepekh, China required Kazakhstan to sign an information-sharing pact as a condition of introducing a 30-day visa-free travel regime between the two countries. Kazakhstan shares an extensive border with China’s Xinjiang Region, site of an ongoing crackdown on the area’s Muslim population.
China is eager to expand oil imports via Kazakhstan. A preliminary feasibility study for expanding pipeline volume has been completed, according to Kazakh Energy Minister Almasadam Satkaliev. “The Chinese side asked Kazakhstan to provide a plan for guaranteed supplies of oil volumes,” the business outlet Finmarket quoted Satkaliev as saying. “We have officially expressed our readiness to provide such guarantees.” The publication also cited Magzum Mirzagaliev, board chair of the state energy concern KazMunayGas, who said expanding Kazakhstan’s pipeline infrastructure to facilitate China-bound oil supplies would take up to three years and cost an estimated $200 million. The expansion would enable Kazakh oil exports to China to rise from about 2 million tons annually to 20 million tons. Satkaliev said the “investment phase” of the expansion project could begin in 2024.
Kazakhstan is planning infrastructure improvements designed to accommodate transit freight traffic totaling 35 million tons annually by 2030, according to a statement issued by the government’s press service. The expansion plans take into account the expected growth of trans-Caspian trade routes linking China to European markets. During the first nine months of 2023, transit freight volume traversing Kazakhstan amounted to 20.7 million tons.
Kazakhstan’s Civil Aviation Authority has announced a new air cargo route connecting the Chinese city of Chengdu and the Hungarian capital Budapest, operated by Sichuan Airlines, will include a stopover in Almaty. “Cargo flights through Kazakhstan will contribute to the further development of the country’s transit potential,” according to the ministry statement.
Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE is recruiting workers in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the CNews agency reports. The company wants to hire in a variety of areas, including sales managers, customer service specialists and installation technicians. The Chinese conglomerate is also looking to add lawyers and accountants. The company did not disclose details about its expansion plans, or why it is looking to add a large number of local hires.
Uzbek cultural institutions, including the State Museum of History and the Institute of Art History, are lending items for an archaeological exhibition at the Gugong Imperial Palace Museum in Beijing. Most of the objects lent by Uzbek institutions date from the 1st through 3rd centuries BC. The exhibition also includes artifacts from China, Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates, and is being presented under the auspices of China’s Belt & Road Initiative.
New details are emerging about Kyrgyzstan’s plans for a railway connecting the country to two neighboring states, Uzbekistan and China. Deputy Transport Minister Yrysbek Bariev has revealed that the planned Kyrgyz portion of the rail route will pass through the population centers of Torugart, Kosh-Dobo, Kazarman and Jalal-Abad. The minister added the Kyrgyz section will cover 311 kilometers, significantly less than the previously reported length of 454 kilometers. Kyrgyzstan has yet to put financing in place for the project, the estimated price tag of which could reach $4.7 billion. The route will require the construction of tunnels that collectively stretch about 57 kilometers through Kyrgyzstan’s mountainous terrain.
Kyrgyz officials are trying to troubleshoot issues that are delaying modernization work on the Zhongda oil refinery in the northern Chui Region. Bakyt Torobaev, the deputy head of the Kyrgyz cabinet, met with Chinese experts to discuss ways of getting the project on track. The Kyrgyz government “is interested in the speedy launch of the plant, and all measures will be taken on the Kyrgyz side to resolve problematic issues,” the Vesti.kg outlet quoted an unidentified Kyrgyz official as saying.