Chinese President’s First Trip Abroad Since COVID-19 Pandemic Will Be To Kazakhstan Next Week

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NUR-SULTAN -- Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Kazakhstan next week in his first trip abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov said on September 5 that the Chinese leader will pay an official visit to Nur-Sultan on September 14.

After that, Xi is scheduled to travel to the Uzbek city of Samarkand, where he will participate in a summit of the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) scheduled for September 15-16.

The SCO comprises China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan.

During the summit he is expected to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time since Russia launched its ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

China has not condemned the invasion but diplomatically supported Moscow's efforts to start talks with Kyiv over what the Kremlin called "disputed territories" that Russian troops now control.

Also on September 5, several men and women held a rally in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, urging Toqaev to raise the issue of their relatives, who they say are being illegally held in custody in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang, during his talks with Xi.

The United Nations last week issued a report saying China may have committed crimes against humanity in Xinjiang by "appalling treatment" of the region's indigenous people, including Kazakhs, Uyghurs, and other mostly Turkic-speaking Muslim ethnic groups.

The report by outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet authoritatively cited "arbitrary and discriminatory detention" of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang.

China says the camps are necessary to curb terrorism, separatism, and religious radicalism.

Kazakhs are the second-largest indigenous community in Xinjiang after Uyghurs. The region is also home to ethnic Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Hui, also known as Dungans.

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