China's Xi Jinping travels to Central Asia in first trip abroad since pandemic
Chinese President Xi Jinping embarked on a trip to Central Asia on Wednesday, his first time leaving China since January 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why it matters: The trip is aimed at helping Xi shore up his standing as a geopolitical statesman and comes ahead of an October meeting of Communist Party leaders in which Xi is expected to secure a third term in office, per the New York Times.
The big picture: Xi on Wednesday landed in Kazakhstan, a country that is strongly connected to China through China's Belt and Road Initiative.
- Xi will next head to Uzbekistan for a regional summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, where he will also meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday — their first in-person meeting since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, CNN reported.
- The trip also follows the release of a UN report last month that detailed the Chinese government's "serious human rights violations" against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, a region of China that borders Kazakhstan.