Kazakhstan’s campaigners to hit the streets in protest of abolition of visas for the Chinese

12 августа 2013, 18:44

Kazakhstan’s citizens are concerned over the planned abolition of visas between Kazakhstan and China, a Tengrinews.kz journalist reports. The active part of those opposing have summoned a press-conference and voiced their concerns.

Zhanbolat Mamai, a leader of the Rukh Pen Til organization, and Rasul Zhumaly, a Kazakh political analyst, said they intended to hit the streets in protest this coming autumn and called leaders of Kazakhstan political parties to join them. They plan to apply for a permit to the municipal authorities to schedule the public rally for September 15.

“One should admit that abolishing visas is a sensitive issue. We are concerned over the suggestion put forward by the country’s Ministry of Industry and New Technology. We believe decisions on such issues should not be taken by the Ministry alone. The Country’s National Security Committee and the Foreign Ministry should treat the issue from different angles”, Mr. Mamai believes.

Zhanbolat Mamai

Zhanbolat Mamai. Photo from his facebook page

According to him, Kazakhstan may become the first nation to introduce a visa-free entry for China. “Not a single nation has ever abolished visas for the Chinese. We have studied the issue. 14 African countries and 19 Asian countries have loosened their visa regime with regards to China. But none of them has abolished visas for the Chinese. Up to now we don’t know the exact number of Chinese nationals present in Kazakhstan. According to the official statistics, there are 2000 – 3000 of them. However, some experts claim there are up to 300 000 Chinese people living and working in Kazakhstan. Suffice it to visit Aktau, Aktobe and Atyrau to see that most of them are engaged in the country’s O&G industry”.

Analyst Zhumaly believes the inflow of the Chinese contributes to unemployment in Kazakhstan. “These jobs could be occupied by the Kazakhs. Some of the current foreign workforce do not even have decent qualifications or credentials”, he elaborated.

Rasul Zhumaly

Rasul Zhumaly. ©Yaroslav Radlovskiy

The activists believe if the abolishment of visas is truly done to accommodate more visitors for the EXPO-2017, then visa requirements should be loosened with regards to other countries as well. And the loosening should be temporal.
Earlier the country’s media reported that Kazakhstan was considering abolishing visas for groups of tourists [rather than for individual visitors] from China. According to the Kazakh authorities, this measure will boost the inflow of tourists from China. Besides, chartered flights will be launched from Almaty and Astana to Sanya. Currently there are 32 regular commercial flights a week linking the two nations.

According to earlier Tengrinews.kz reports, about 5 million China’s citizens are expected to visit Kazakhstan to attend EXPO-2017 events. The activists are concerned over the planned inflow of the Chinese. With no visas in place, it would be hard to make sure they all return back to China afterwards.

Tengrinews.kz reported that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is to pay a visit to Kazakhstan August 17-20. The visit precedes the first state visit of President Xi Jinping scheduled for September 6-8.

Kazakhstan China flags

Photo courtesy of pm.kz

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