Pompeo: Kazakhs should reject China and Russia cash
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on Kazakhstan to welcome Russian and Chinese investment and influence with caution.
During his official visit today (Sunday), Pompeo told Kazakh leaders that investment would cost sovereignty and may hinder long-term development.
Pompeo met Kazakhs whose relatives had gone missing or been detained across the border in China during the ongoing crackdown on Muslim Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province.
The UN and rights groups estimate that between 1-2 million Uighurs have been detained in camps in what Beijing calls an “anti-terrorism” campaign.
“The protection of basic human rights defines the soul of a nation. We discussed trafficking and the plight of more 1 million Uighur Muslims and ethnic Kazakhs that the Chinese Communist Party has detained in Xinjiang, just across the Kazakh border,” Pompeo told the media.
“The United States urges all countries to join us in pressing for an immediate end to this repression. We ask simply for them to provide safe refuge and asylum to those seeking to flee China. Protect human dignity, just do what’s right.”
Pompeo also praised Kazakhstan for repatriating around 600 Isis fighters and their family members from Iraq and Syria.
“Grateful to #Kazakhstan for not forcibly returning members of Muslim minority groups to an uncertain fate in China and protecting those who seek asylum,” tweeted Pompeo.
He called on Kazakhstan to continue reforms that would allow greater US investment during a joint press conference with Kazakh foreign minister Mukhtar Tleuberdo.
Next Pompeo heads to Uzbekistan for talks with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who is trying to boost tourism and investment while only marginally relaxing the authoritarian state’s grip.
Uzbekistan’s population is 33 million, making it Central Asia’s most populous country.
Mirziyoyev, who visited Trump in Washington in 2018, is considering joining the Moscow-backed Eurasian Economic Union. The five-nation economic alliance includes Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan but is dominated by Russia.
Pompeo also visited Belarus and Ukraine after stopping in Britain.
In Minsk, Pompeo offered to provide Belarus with all its oil and gas needs after Russia cut off supplies last month.
He said the US could provide an opportunity for the authoritarian Minsk administration to achieve “sovereignty” and “independence”.
Around 80 per cent of Belarus’ energy previously came from its eastern neighbour.
“The United States wants to help Belarus build its own sovereign country,” Pompeo said told a press conference with Belarusian foreign minister Vladimir Makei. “Our energy producers stand ready to deliver 100 per cent of the oil you need at competitive prices. We’re the biggest energy producer in the world and all you have to do is call us.
“Your nation should not be forced to be dependent on any one partner for your prosperity or for your security,” he added.
Oil-rich Kazakhstan. Picture credit: Wikimedia