China-Central Asia Relations: A Reality Check
A guest lecture by Niva Yau organised by the Asian Studies Research Seminar.
As Central Asian states approach the 30th year of independence in 2021, this lecture examines the state of bilateral relations with China, a regional player of increased importance in the past decade. For the region, cooperation with China supported the rise of individual Central Asian leaders and induced a larger sense of independence from Russia. The Central Asian energy landscape has been oriented towards China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) provides a regional security structure. The regional presence of China has grown exponentially in the past decade, with the Belt and Road Initiative that drove Central Asian leaders ideologically closer to Beijing and lead to adaptation of China’s authoritarian technologies – opening the door to Chinese private security companies and a Chinese military base in Tajikistan (as it is called by the West), an anti-drug trafficking centre (as it is referred to by China). This guest lecture pays special attention to the bilateral dynamics from the perspective of individual Central Asian states in navigating relations with China.
Niva Yau is a resident researcher at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek and a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Insistute in Philadelphia. Her works focuses on China’s foreign policy and trade in the western pheriphery, including Central Asia and Afghanistan. Originally from Hong Kong, Ms Yau has been based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan since 2018, and has recently been awarded the Albert Otto Hirschman prize for best political economy writing in 2020 by The Washington Post.