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International relations

China offers $500m in aid to Central Asia as Russian clout grows

Beijing rushes to catch up via summit after slow response to Kazakh unrest

A shipment of medical supplies from China arrives in Kazakhstan in April 2020. China has pledged an additional 50 million coronavirus vaccine doses to Central Asian countries.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- Chinese President Xi Jinping met virtually with leaders from five Central Asian countries on Tuesday to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, as Beijing rushes to counter Moscow's growing sway in the region.

Xi told the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan that China will "firmly support them safeguarding sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity," according to the Xinhua News Agency. The comment appeared to be an implicit jab at the idea of reviving the old Soviet Union, purported to be a goal of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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