Wednesday, 13 November 2013
By Farkhod Tolipov
13/11/2013 issue of the CACI Analyst
New Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited Uzbekistan during his tour to Central Asia in September this year. The visit took place ahead of the September summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Bishkek, and was initially perceived as an ordinary diplomatic good-will gesture towards the Central Asian states in connection with Jinping’s first SCO summit. However, in the aftermath of that tour, China surprised many observers with its strategic bounty: China signed large contracts and agreements with the states of the region. Was this primarily a strategic breakthrough of China or the Central Asians’?
BACKGROUND: China established diplomatic relations with Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries in 1992. Since then, China has steadily expanded its “Go West” policy aimed at consolidating its presence in Central Asia. The record of Uzbekistan-China relations illustrates an ambitious and comprehensive Chinese plan for engaging neighboring countries to its west. Relationships between these states have unavoidably affected the overall geopolitical transformation of the region since the demise of the Soviet superpower. This record reflects China’s rising profile in Uzbekistan’s international and regional policy and vice versa. During Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov’s official visit to China in June 2012, the two states signed a Declaration on Strategic Partnership, thereby elevating their relations. In October 2011 in Beijing, Uzbekistan and China had established an intergovernmental committee on cooperation in the trade-economic, investment, security, cultural-humanitarian, energy, transport, and scientific-technical spheres.