Sep 14, 2022 - World

China's Xi Jinping travels to Central Asia in first trip abroad since pandemic

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping on a visit to Hong Kong on June 30. Photo: Justin Chin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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.
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