Illustration by Carlo Giambarresi Xi Jinping spoke slowly and carefully as he addressed the inaugural China-Central Asia Summit in May. With the flags of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan draped neatly behind him, China’s paramount leader described the need to “renew our millennia-old friendship and open up new vistas for the future.” Xi was leaning heavily on China’s historical ties to the region, choosing to host the summit, for instance, in Xi’an, the eastern terminus of the ancient Silk Road and what Xi called “an important cradle of the Chinese civilization and nation.” Thanks to its New Silk Road Economic Belt, part of the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing has invested heavily in Central Asia over the past decade, although its relationship with the region has undergone some strain in recent years due to China’s strict Covid policies, which partially froze the nations’ trade. Xi speaking at the China-Central Asia Summit, May 19, 2023. Credit: Ministry ofSubscribe or login to read the rest. Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.