Belt and Road Initiative: Perspectives in Central Asia

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameAsia and Africa Today
EditionIssue 7

This article explores risks and opportunities for China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative in Central Asian Region (CAR) that consists of the ex-Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. As Beijing is actively pushing its new foreign policy agenda here, there is concern growing among the expert community and politicians alike about the superpower’s real intentions towards this sensitive region situated in the immediate vicinity of Russian borders. In order to understand the reasons and the possible outcome of China’s foray into CAR, author suggests considering this region as a unique buffer zone in the heart of the continent that has its own mission of neutralizing geopolitical potential of the more influential states situated along the rim of Eurasia. After the demise of the Soviet Union that shaped CAR in its current form and impregnated its countries with the common ideology, the dangerous vacuum of power and ideas emerged here at the end of the last century. With all the subsequent efforts of the other major geopolitical players like EU or US to fill this vacuum failing, rising China effectively dragged itself into CAR with its unique agenda of full-scale economic development as a new ideology. Beijing’s cautious countryby-country approach, its economic might and the willingness to consider political specifics of the region bring it generally positive responses from the elite circles in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. However, the lack of common cultural background and the widespread distrust of the common people across the region towards Chinese may put Beijing’s ambitious goals in CAR at risk.

KeywordsChina, Central Asia, Belt and Road Initiative, buffer zones, multiple partner policy
Publication date07.08.2019
Number of characters25310
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