China courts Central Asia as Russia’s influence wanes

SpaceWar.com reports: “China is renewing its push for massive infrastructure projects in Central Asia as Beijing aims to fill the vacuum left in former Soviet states by Russia, which is ensnared in a widening net of Western sanctions over the Ukraine war.

Central Asia has become key to China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, a defining geopolitical project for President Xi Jinping.

Around 150 countries have received Chinese funds to build roads, ports, railways or hydroelectric dams.

Beijing says trade with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan reached $70 billion in 2022 and expanded 22 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023.

Analysts say Russia’s war in Ukraine has further shifted the dynamic in Beijing’s favour — leading many in the region to question their long-standing ties with Moscow and seek economic, diplomatic and strategic assurances elsewhere.

‘After the Russian aggression in Ukraine, the Central Asian republics started to fear for their sovereignty,’ Ayjaz Wani, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in Mumbai, told AFP…”

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