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Chinas Policy Towards Central Asia

Muddassir Ali Khan M.A International Relations 2010-12

The emergence of five central Asian states Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as a result of the disintegration of Soviet Empire. These states are full of natural resources like gas and oil. So, for enjoying its abilities they make it open door policy and try cash there abilities for its internal development, strong economy and better foreign relations. In his regards her neighboring country china also there. To fulfill the huge needs of energy, to contain U.S. influence in this region, counter terrorism, and make this region as strong economic market, chinas make better policies to achieve these goals and try to enhance better relations with these Central Asian States.

The disintegration of Former Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991 and the five independent central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and

Uzbekistan opened up phenomenal opportunities for china to exercise and influence in the central Asian region. These states attracted the world, primarily for its vast energy resources and other raw materials. The geo-economic and geo-strategic importance of Central Asian States have attract the China to make polices regarding to enhancing its economic, strong its security to fulfill the Chinese principles of foreign policy independence. China, like other states bordering the central Asian region in which Russia, Iran, and Afghanistan, also faced a changed geopolitical situation on its borders. The Chinese Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous (XUAR) shares a long and common border with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Central Asia was the arena of the Great Game in which Russia and the British Empire competed for strategic primacy. Today, the U.S., Russia and china are competing for similar supremacy in the region. The U.S. involvement in the post 9/11 period is another significant factor in chinas policy towards central Asia.

Chinas Interests in Central Asia

Chinas growing involvement in central Asia has attracted much international attention in recent years. Fears have been expressed about the extent to which china has made inroads into the regions economic and political life, as well as the motives behind this policy. China has even been accused of viewing central Asia as its legitimate lebensraum. Such reasoning seems remote from reality: all the indications are that chinas expansion into the markets and politics of central Asia is peaceful and has clear limitations. It is evident that central Asia is a key concern of Chinese foreign policy, following closely behind other fundamental issues such as Taiwan and the one-china principle that the island should not be recognized as politically independent of the mainland. The last decade has seen an expansion of military cooperation between china and the neighboring central Asian states especially as regards counter-terrorism and military confidence-building measures. Economic co-operation, integration, and infrastructure projects have also been priority concerns of Beijing. Chinese investment in the economies of central Asia and bilateral trade are growing rapidly, and china looks to central Asia to reduce its energy deficit, diversify its energy imports and transits routs, and increase its energy security. Yet there are limits to chinas influence and control over economic and political developments in the region.

Chinas Central Asia Policy

The world has become global village in the real sense of the term. China and central Asian republics are looking for new markets to sell their oil and gas and china needs energy to keep pace with its economic growth. China and central Asian republics are trying to resolve their borders issues, and they have succeeded in achieving that goal. The central Asian republics lack capital to exploit their oil and gas resources while china has huge invest able surplus capital. The geopolitical game in central Asia is two fold: first, control over production of oil and gas, and second, control over the pipelines which will transfer oil to the western markets. Energy resources are reshaping the geopolitical map in this region.

Energy, Trade and infrastructure

We know china is fastest growing economic country and being the worlds second-largest oil consumer after the United States, as mentioned above, attaching high priority to accessing oil and gas reserves in central Asian republics. The Chinese government wants to diversify energy imports and lower dependence on west Asia (Middle East). 1 Because the growing dependence on oil imports has created an increasing sense of energy insecurity among Chinese leaders. Chinese military leaders argue tat chinas energy problem needs to be taken seriously and dealt with strategically. That would mean lesser reliance on Middle East oil. Avoidance of sea lanes policed by the U.S. navy, building Chinese navys capability to protect Chinese tankers and more oil from central Asia brought overland by pipeline. The American build-up of its naval base at change in Singapore, allowing it to patrol the straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia, through which 80 percent of chinas imported oil moves, is regarded with particular suspicion. 2 The quest for energy security is also transforming chinas engagement in central Asia. Another interest of china regarding central Asia is to contain U.S. influence in the region. Thus, we see strong political and economic initiatives from china in the central Asian region and fully support of central Asian governments for its Go West policy. So, keeping her energy requirement in view central Asia acquires special significance for china. The Caspian Sea region possesses huge oil and gas reserves. Major countries both eyes on its reserves in Russia, India, U.S.A. and western European countries also have. So, china make batter polices to achieve her energy requirement and make friendly relations with these countries and start a agreement with these and china invest his money in many sectors like gas-pipeline, oil industry, to roads for trade and development of these region. In his regards, china have a good relations with Kazakhstan to approach its oil, gas, iron, zinc, copper resources, ore, titanium, aluminum, silver and gold is particularly important for china. Some a15 major Chinese companies are active in Kazakhstan. These companies extract about 80 million tons of Kazakh oil each year, of which an estimated 25 million tons is sent to china. 3 China is also strengthening its relations with Turkmenistan. In 2009, china gave Turkmenistan a $3 billion loan to develop the south Yolotan gas deposit. In 2010 china approved an additional $4 billion to complete the first stage of this project. 4 The bilateral relations between the china and Kyrgyzstan have a strengthened in post-cold war era. China sees Kyrgyzstan as strategic base for trade expansion across central Asia, and Kyrgyzstan seeks to maximize its profits from re-exporting Chinese goods. Recently china boosts energy ties with central Asia when the Chinese leader Hu Jintao opened the Kazakh section of a new Central Asia-China gas pipeline. The new 1,833-kilometre Turkmenistan-china pipeline enters china through the Kazakh boarder, the entire pipe line, running from gas-rich Turkmenistan to chinas restive region of Xinjiang via Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Its a huge project that will one day restore the ancient Silk Road route, the president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev told Hu in the Kazakh capital Astana. 5 Finally, we see the impotence of Uzbekistan is also rich in oil, gas and other natural resources. The Tajikistan is rich in Hydro power and its borders tech with china. The Kyrgyzstan has Geostrategic importance Turkmenistan rich in hydrocarbons particularly Natural gas and other central Asian republics are diversifying their export routes.

The primary factor driving Beijings engagement in central Asia is the need to; decrease the economic marginalization of the latters ethnic Turkic Uyghur population, and secure chinas western boarders against external support for the putative Islamic fundamentalist and separatist movements in the province. Beijing has made central Asia an integral part of its develop the west programmed, in which major economic redistributions from urban eastern china to the Chinese west, primarily Tibet and Xinjiang, have aimed to consolidate national unity and decrease incentives for separatism. The security situation in chinas west has been a marker in Beijings political and military relations with central Asia, and especially with the states that share a boarder with the Peoples Republic. Another security issue is to contain U.S. influence in this region, in his regards china has major influence over the politics and economics of these countries but it doesnt advertise it, unlike the others. Its a quiet policy of working against U.S. and Russian interests, 6 said by Dustov, an independent Tajik political analyst.

Implications for other actors

China has been highly successful in expanding its influence in central Asia in recent years, largely at the expense of Europe and the United States. This will give rise to new patterns of engagement, new coalitions and economic interactions that will shape the future of the Eurasian region. Russia and china have joined hands in attempting to minimize the U.S. and European presence in central Asia. The US expulsion from Uzbekistan and the European neglect of the region have worked in favor of china and Russia. The shanghai co-operation organist anion has functioned as a bulwark against external influence in central asia, and even if it is not explicitly a body directed against the united states or Europe, it has in effect been used as such by Moscow and Beijing. The marginalization of the United States and Europe has strengthened the shanghai cooperation oranistanion as regional body such of central Asian affairs is now dealt with through it or bilaterally between its members. Looked at positively structure able to prevent conflicts. On the negative side Chinese and Russian domination of the organization will create an uneven regional power structure.

Independence is the principle of chinas foreign policy it is the eve of Mao Zedong so, to pursuing an independent policy, chinas determined to modernize their industry, agriculture, national defense, and science and technology through several decades, as a result china is fastest growing economy. To fulfill the huge needs for energy, china needs central Asian republics for its future energy security, both sides are mutual interests chinas interests is to accessing oil and gas reserves in central asia and to contain U.S. influence in this region china seemed that U.S. military presence would not be short term, and suspicious were raised that it had a hidden agenda of controlling the energy resources of central asia. An other interests are Russia has regained some of its lost influence in central Asia. So, china has up-graded its

political ties with Kazakhstan to the level of strategic partnership and through Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Strong politico-economic initiatives have been taken by china. With to contribute the interests of central Asian republics there interests are the south Asia as a giant market for its huge oil and gas reserves. It is a fact that china has major influence over the politics and economics of these countries but it does not advertise it. Finally, Chinese investment projects in central Asia that is changing the geopolitical face of this strategic, recourses-rich region and its a quiet policy of working against U.S. and Russia interests.

1 Ramakant Dwivedi, (2006). Chinas Central Asia Policy in Recent Times. China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, Volume 4, No.4 (2006), p.147 2 Zahid Anwar, (2011). An assessment of chinas growing relations with central Asian states and its implications for Pakistan. IPRI journal XI, no. 2(summer 2011), p.67-68. 3 ibid. p.69 4 ibid. p.70-71 5 China boosts energy ties with Central Asia, The News International. Sunday, December 13, 2009 6 China lays path to power in Central Asia, The News International. Sunday, August 31,2008