An update on recent developments in Chinese-Central Asian affairs.
China and Kazakhstan are planning a new rail connection and border crossing in the Bakhty-Ayagoz area, expressing hope that the new route can cut freight transit times. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced the move during the May 24 Eurasian Economic Forum, attended by representatives of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Kazakhstan’s atomic energy firm, Kazatomprom JSC, announced on May 25 the sale of a large batch of uranium to China’s National Atomic Corporation. At the same time, according to a local publication, the EurAsia Daily, Kazakh officials are reluctant to increase uranium supplies to Western customers out of desire to keep the price high for the precious metal. EurAsia Daily went on to report the Chinese deal could be worth up to $750 million.
The Development Bank of Kazakhstan JSC and the State Development Bank of China signed an agreement to invest up to $300 million in Kazakh manufacturing projects. Priority will be given to projects that produce “goods of medium and high value added, as well as with a high share of local content,” the Kazakh bank’s press service announced.
Magzum Mirzagaliev, the board chair of the state energy concern KazMunayGas, says the cost of expanding oil pipelines in the Atyrau-Kenkiyak and Kenkiyak-Kumkol areas of China and Kazakhstan may reach $200 million, Orda.kz reported. The project aims to boost capacity of the Kenkiyak-Atyrau link from 6 million tons per year to 12 million tons, and Kenkiyak-Kumkol’s capacity will rise from 10 million tons to 15 million tons annually.
Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Labor and Social Protection reported that out of 15,129 registered foreign workers in the country, roughly 25 percent, or 3,652 individuals, are Chinese nationals.
China is ready to help Uzbekistan boost solar and wind power-generating capacity. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev revealed that a deal signed on the sidelines of mid-May’s China-Central Asia summit envisions the construction of 11 solar and wind power plants with a total capacity of 4.8 gigawatts. The agreement is valued at potentially $4.4 billion. In addition to earlier deals with Chinese firms, Uzbekistan’s power-generating capacity could increase by 6 gigawatts, Energy Minister Jurabek Mirzamakhmudov said.
A feasibility study is done and now officials are moving on to the next stage of making the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway a reality, Gazeta.uz reported. Transport Minister Ilkhom Makhkamov told the Uzbekistan 24 television channel that China is planning logistics centers at sites along the Uzbek border.
Educational exchanges are picking up between Uzbekistan and China. A delegation from Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies toured Beijing and Xi’an, signing cooperation agreements with 12 Chinese higher education institutions covering such areas as student and researcher exchanges and developing “joint educational programs,” according to a report published by the Yuz.uz news agency. The report was headlined, “Uzbekistan-China: Academic Cooperation Without Borders.”
Uzbekistan’s Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs wants to launch an “Innovative Education Fund” in cooperation with China’s Ministry of Commerce. A ministry statement noted that land had been allocated to house the new entity, but it did not specify how the fund will operate or what types of training it will provide. China has developed a vast internal security apparatus to monitor its population and keep dissent in check. The creation of the fund potentially could create a mechanism to share Beijing’s surveillance know-how with Uzbek internal security services. Or, perhaps Interior Ministry officials are contemplating a new side hustle in some entrepreneurial or ex-im capacity.
Kyrgyzstan’s deputy chair of the Cabinet of Ministers, Bakyt Torobaev, talked trade during a working visit to China’s western Xinjiang Province, scene of an ongoing Chinese government crackdown of the Muslim Uighur minority group. The Kyrgyz delegation also held talks on establishing a new checkpoint on the countries’ shared border, building small-scale hydropower plants and increasing quotas for the number of Kyrgyz students able to study in Xinjiang. Official reports made no mention of the Uighur crackdown.
China delivered $7.1 million in humanitarian assistance to Tajikistan during the January-April period of 2023, the ASIA-Plus news agency reported. That figure accounts for almost 30 percent of the overall humanitarian assistance total of $24.2 million received by Tajikistan during the period. At the same time, the $24.2 million total is almost three times lower than that received during the same period in 2022. The largest donors of humanitarian assistance after China are Belgium (17.1 percent), the United States (14.7 percent) and Turkey with (4.7 percent). Overall, 39 countries sent humanitarian aid to Tajikistan in early 2023.
Source : Eurasianet