Monday, January 18, 2016

Why does Central Asia Still Matter? Because It Matters to China


Kendrick Kuo

Chinese foreign policy toward Central Asia and the Muslim world at large remains a niche subject that only concerns a subset of researchers. In the popular imagination, China is solely an East Asian power. But as the Sino-American relationship continues to evolve, through both frictions and convergence of interests, Central Asia promises to be an important area of cooperation. My point is not that China is the primary reason the U.S. should remain interested in Central Asian states, but consideration of Sino-American relations should play a role in shaping continued U.S. engagement in the broader region.
China’s pivot to Central Asia
Any consideration of Beijing’s policies toward Central Asia must examine the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). There are signs that China’s military cooperation with Central Asian countries is waning. Last week, the SCO held its annual military exercises in Kazakhstan. Over at, Joshua Kucera observes several aspects of the exercise that indicate diminished emphasis placed on the SCO’s military initiatives. Only three states participated and the number of troops involved seems to be significantly reduced.
China’s primary instrument in Central Asia at this point is economic ties. Beijing’s influence on Central Asian states’ foreign policies persists due to its economic clout. In 2010, Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in Kazakhstan reached $1.59 billion, ranking fourteenth among top outbound destinations. The United States receives about $4.9 billion in FDI stock, ranking eighth. Turkmenistan also receives considerable FDI flows, adding up to $450.51 million, ranking fifteenth in top FDI flow destinations, compared to the United States’ $1.3 billion. Recently, in May 2013, Tajikistan President Emomalii Rahmon met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE) heads on an official state visit. He left Beijing with multi-million dollar investment projects in sectors such as infrastructure, banking, and energy. They also agreed on technical cooperation to the tune of $200 million.


No comments:

Post a Comment