US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday pressed Kazakhstan to be wary of Chinese investment and influence, urging the Central Asian nation and others to join calls demanding an end to China’s repression of minorities.
Bringing a message similar to the one he has delivered repeatedly to other countries, Pompeo told senior Kazakh officials that the attractiveness of Chinese investment comes with a cost to sovereignty and might hurt, instead of help, the country’s long-term development.
“We fully support Kazakhstan’s freedom to choose to do business with whichever country it wants, but I am confident that countries get the best outcomes when they partner with American companies,” he said.
“You get fair deals. You get job creation. You get transparency in contracts. You get companies that care about the environment and you get an unsurpassed commitment to quality work,” he added.
Pompeo began his brief visit to the country by meeting with ethnic Kazakhs whose families have gone missing or been detained in China’s widespread crackdown on Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities in its western Xinjiang region.
“The protection of basic human rights defines the soul of a nation,” he said, thanking Kazakhstan for taking in those fleeing persecution.
“The United States urges all countries to join us in pressing for immediate end to this repression. We ask simply for them to provide safe refuge and asylum for those seeking to flee China. To protect dignity, just do what’s right,” he added.
Pompeo also congratulated Kazakhstan on its repatriation of Islamic State fighters from Iraq and Syria.
Kazakhstan has taken back nearly 600 fighters and family members detained in areas formerly controlled by the group.
“I have and will continue to commend the Kazakhstani government for its leadership in repatriating foreign terrorists fighters and their families from Iraq and Syria,” he said. “I hope this commitment to justice will inspire other nations to do the same.”
However, Kazakhstan has come under criticism for pressuring an advocate who had campaigned for the release of ethnic Kazakhs in China.
In addition, Pompeo urged senior Kazakh officials to continue reforms that would allow greater US investment in the country.
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