tirsdag 18. januar 2022

Why China won’t tolerate instability in Kazakhstan

With China recently offering political and economic security to Kazakhstan against “external forces,” Beijing appears to have reached a point where it can no longer sustain its self-touted policy of non-interference in countries along its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Recent protests and violence in Kazakhstan over rising fuel prices turned another of China’s neighbors into a tumultuous mess, one that threatens wider regional instability. Hundreds were killed before Kazakhstan leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appealed for help from the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to help stabilize the situation and protect his regime.

While Beijing was not directly involved in the CSTO deployment, it became quickly evident that it could no longer sit on the fence and watch a potential “color revolution” evolve in a neighboring country. Beijing’s motivations, however, were not shaped mainly by Kazakhstan’s geographical proximity; the country holds vital economic significance for China. China sources at least 20% of its natural gas from or via Kazakhstan.

In recent years, China has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Kazakhstan in sectors ranging from chemical engineering to agriculture to infrastructure.