mandag 3. august 2020

Beijing is well positioned to continue growing its influence in Central Asia, though some challenges remain ahead.

Over the last decade, China cemented its position as a consequential actor in Central Asia. Motivated to increase regional connectivity, diversify sources of energy imports, and safeguard its western territories, China invested heavily in trade and infrastructure projects in Central Asia. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013, became the cornerstone of China’s rising power in the region. The COVID-19 pandemic, which upended many regional economies, offers China an opportunity to reevaluate its overall strategy. China’s post-COVID plans for Central Asia will need to not only consider its ability to push forward with the BRI, but also wrestle with obstacles that have hindered its progress in recent years.

In the post-pandemic era, Chinese influence in Central Asia vis-à-vis other powers will only increase. No other regional or global power will be capable of matching China’s capacity to invest in the region. Faced with no real alternatives to Beijing’s lending power, Central Asia’s dependency on China will only increase.