søndag 30. desember 2018

Beijing’s Long Struggle to Control Xinjiang’s Mineral Wealth

The Silk Road Economic Belt—the overland component of Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—promises to bind China to Central Asia and beyond through a new infrastructural network. Connecting through China’s far western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the belt, alongside a network of pipelines and highways constructed since the early 2000s, is part of a larger effort to stake a Chinese claim to the resource wealth of Central Asia.

This effort is only the most recent in more than a century of campaigns undertaken by an assortment of regional actors seeking to bind Xinjiang and all of Central Asia into a single resource production region. Agents of the Russian Empire and later the Soviet Union were particularly aggressive in their attempts to assert control over the resource wealth of Xinjiang in the first half of the 20th century. Soviet investments in surveys, extraction and processing equipment, and transport infrastructure at a handful of sites in northern Xinjiang helped create a blueprint for state investment and economic planning that has been carefully followed by multiple generations of Chinese planners.