Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his Central Asian neighbors on Friday not to allow outsiders to destabilize them with “color revolutions" and offered to set up a regional counterterrorism training center.
Xi’s comments at a security summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders from Central Asia, India and Iran reflect official Chinese anxiety that Western support for pro-democracy and human rights activists is a plot to undermine Xi's ruling Communist Party and other authoritarian governments.
“We should prevent external forces from instigating a color revolution,” Xi said in a speech to leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, referring to protests that toppled unpopular regimes in the former Soviet Union and the Middle East.
Xi offered to train 2,000 police officers, to set up a regional counterterrorism training center and to “strengthen law enforcement capacity building.” He gave no details.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was formed by Russia and China as a counterweight to U.S. influence. The summit is part of Xi's first trip abroad since shortly after the coronavirus pandemic began 2 1/2 years ago, highlighting the importance to Beijing of asserting itself as a regional leader.
The group also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran is an observer and has applied for full membership.
The one-day summit in the ancient city of Samarkand occurred against a backdrop of Russia's attack on Ukraine and fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a “dialogue partner” of the group, attended the summit and planned to hold talks with Putin on the status of a deal under which wheat exports from Ukraine through the Black Sea resumed.
Xi is promoting a “Global Security Initiative” announced in April following the formation of the Quad by the U.S., Japan, Australia and India in response to Beijing’s more assertive foreign policy. Xi has given few details, but U.S. officials complain it echoes Russian arguments in support of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
China's relations with Washington, Europe, Japan and India have been strained by disputes about technology, security, human rights and territory.