tirsdag 17. mai 2022

Even as China’s economic influence expands, a credibility gap looms in Central Asia

China was among the first countries to recognize the independence of the Central Asian republics in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse, quickly establishing diplomatic ties with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan in the first week of January 1992. Skipping forward 30 years, China has propelled itself to the position of Central Asia’s leading external partner; in the process, Beijing has invested previously unthinkable sums of money in the region and beyond. China’s hegemonic approach of pumping billions into Central Asia stems from a view of the region as a vital ingredient to its global infrastructure and soft power agenda.

Launched in 2013 by President Xi Jinping in Kazakhstan, what we now call the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is among the most ambitious mass infrastructure projects ever conceived. Chinese policymakers envisioned both land and maritime components, consisting of development and investment projects stretching from Southeast Asia to Europe, including parts of Africa.