Central Asia

Baiterek, a monument and observation tower, in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. (Photo provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan)

[Big read] Kazakhstan’s economic emergence amid US-China-Russia power struggle

Kazakhstan’s development since gaining independence in 1991 has led it to become a leader in the Central Asia region. With much potential still waiting to be explored in this resource-rich country, Kazakhstan is walking a tightrope to balance its relations with the US, China and Russia. Lianhe Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong shares findings from her visit.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyzstan's President Sadyr Japarov, Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon, Turkmenistan's President Serdar Berdymukhamedov and Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev arrive for the joint press conference of the China-Central Asia Summit in Xian, Shaanxi province, China, 19 May 2023. (Florence Lo/Reuters)

China strengthens its influence in Central Asia as Russia looks on

The China-Central Asia Summit may have ended last week, but it seems that it is just the beginning for China’s re-consolidated relations with Central Asia and also Russia, with an exchange of visits between Chinese and Russian officials coming up. Lianhe Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan notes that China’s influence in Central Asia is strengthening, not least the result of Russia’s embroilment in the war in Ukraine.
A China Railway Express train travelling from the Qingdao China-SCO Countries Cooperation Hub to Uzbekistan, 12 May 2023. (CNS)

Back to the future: Trade routes from the Silk Road(s) to the BRI corridors

Chinese President Xi Jinping convening an in-person summit with Central Asian country leaders in Xi'an, Shaanxi province this week is a timely reminder that trade continues to bind regions of the world, as new Silk Roads form out of the merging and melding of ancient and new routes in China’s BRI. US academic Chen Xiangming examines the issue.
China's President Xi Jinping and Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev pose for a picture during their meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 15 September 2022. (Press service of the President of Uzbekistan/Handout via Reuters)

Can China be both economic and security guarantor in Central Asia?

Central Asia is a linchpin between Eurasia and Southeast Asia and a strategic node in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Chinese President Xi Jinping notably visited Central Asia in his first foreign visit in over two years. But while China’s economic engagement is welcome in the region, it is currently not a confident security provider. Could things change in the near future?
China's President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and other participants attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) leaders' summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on 16 September 2022. (Sergei Bobylyov/Sputnik/AFP)

China gains stronger foothold in Central Asian region

Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan analyses the outcomes of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit held in Uzbekistan and the implications of China’s perceived stronger courting of the Central Asia region.
China's President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) leaders' summit in Samarkand on 15 September 2022. (Alexandr Demyanchuk/AFP)

Xi-Putin meeting in Uzbekistan: China pulling back from Russia

China seems to be pulling back while Russia wants to take a step forward, as seen from the Xi-Putin parlay at their meeting in Uzbekistan. But the delicate dance is not only at the surface level of the Ukraine war, but China’s deeper strategic goals in Central Asia, where Russia considers itself a dominant power.
A railway worker checks shipping containers at the Altynkol railway station near the Khorgos border crossing point on the border with China in Kazakhstan, 26 October 2021. (Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters)

China's BRI carrots for Central Asia come with potential pitfalls

China-Central Asia relations have been growing for mutually beneficial reasons, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been a chief conduit of that. Projects have gone beyond just infrastructure to other areas such as health and digital development. But the Central Asian countries will have to navigate possible pitfalls in order to reap the benefits while minimising the threats to national sovereignty and risk of social backlash.