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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral AsiaChina’s Security Management Towards Central Asia

China’s Security Management Towards Central Asia

Author: Niva Yau Tsz Yan

Affiliation: OSCE Academy in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) and the Foreign Policy Research Institute (Philadelphia)

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Policy Research Institute

Date/Place: April 1, 2022 / USA

Type of Literature: Report

Number of Pages: 66



Keywords: China, Central Asia, Security, Soviet Union, East Turkistan 


This assessment of China’s evolving engagement with Central Asian republics on security and beyond gives a peep into how Beijing is pushing forward a regional mechanism to ensure its security. Though Beijing faces a gap due to Russian-language dominated countries, bilateral security engagements between China and five brotherly republics have evolved and improved since the early 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan distinguished themselves as independent nations. The resistance movement in East Turkistan, which China calls Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has been a major issue that Beijing wants Central Asian nations to defeat. Under the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the response to the challenge was upgraded to a regional level. After securing the bilateral relations, bilateral trade between China and Central Asia jumped from $463 million in 1991 to $2.3 billion in 2002, then to $50.2 billion in 2013. The aim is to boost trade to $70 billion by 2030. However, the report also notes rampant corruption and the inability of China-financed projects to generate equitable livelihood, which has triggered animosity among the local populace in the region. China and the brotherly Central Asian republics have committed to at least four regional agreements on customs, weaponry, transnational organized crime, and border defense. The frequency of military and cyber security exercises has increased and is well covered in Chinese media. It also involves a variety of training for officers from Central Asia in China by its security grid. The spreading footprint of China in the region has led to deployment of its private security companies for security of China’s investments, and the deployment is likely to expand. East Turkistan remains at the core of China’s security concerns which have been cemented by the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan, with which Beijing has engaged more frequently to seek security guarantees. However, the recent mass anti-government demonstrations in Kazakhstan have sent jitters in Beijing and raised concerns about other dimensions of security including possible overthrow of governments by peoples’ mobilization.

By: Riyaz ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-resident Research Associate



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