Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan 

This will be his first trip out of China since the start of the pandemic in Jan. 2020

This will be his first trip out of China since the start of the pandemic in Jan. 2020

China’s President Xi Jinping is likely to travel to Kazakhstan on September 14 and subsequently attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan on September 15-16, in what will be the Chinese leader’s first trip out of China since the start of the pandemic in January 2020.

Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aibek Smadiyarov said on Monday Mr. Xi will meet with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on September 14 and sign a number of agreements, according to reports from the country.

The visit will likely be followed by Mr. Xi’s attendance at the SCO Summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, which will take place on September 15 and 16. Beijing hasn’t so far confirmed Mr. Xi’s travel plans.

Mr. Xi hasn’t left China since a visit in mid-January to Myanmar, days before the lockdown of Wuhan, where the pandemic began. Last week, the Communist Party announced that its twice-a-decade national congress will begin on October 16, marking the likely start of Mr. Xi’s third term.

China remains the only country to follow a “zero COVID” policy with stringent regulations on international travel. None of the party’s top leadership, the Politburo Standing Committee, have left China during the pandemic. Third-ranked leader Li Zhanshu will on Wednesday travel to Russia, Mongolia, Nepal and South Korea, which is the first such visit by the top leadership.

SCO summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin have indicated their attendance at the SCO summit and are likely to meet on the sidelines. The summit in Uzbekistan has assumed particular significance for India as it will take over as chair this year and host next year’s meet in New Delhi. It remains unclear if Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi will hold talks on the sidelines, amid the on-going Line of Actual Control (LAC) stand-off. Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi have not met since November 2019 in the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brasilia, coming a month after the “informal” summit in Mamallapuram. Both leaders are also likely to cross paths at the G20 summit in Indonesia in mid-November.

In recent weeks, India has conveyed to China that it cannot accept normalcy in ties as long as the situation along the LAC remains disturbed.

The Chinese military, which Mr. Xi heads, has dragged its feet in slow-moving negotiations to restore the status quo prior to the April 2020 transgressions.

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