China-Central Asia Engagement

China-Central Asia Engagement

News: China recently conducted an online meeting of trade ministers of the grouping known as C+C5 — China and the five Central Asian republics, namely Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

 China shares a long history of trade, culture, and people-to-people links with the Central Asian region, which lies on the ancient Silk Route.
 Modern China’s involvement with the region began with the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.
 Diplomatic relations were established in 1992, and China’s relationship with the region was institutionalised as the Shanghai Five, the forerunner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

What is C+C5 engagement?
 The first C+C5 summit held in Jan 2022 marked the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Central Asian nations.

Importance of Central Asian region for China:
 The region provides China with a market for cheap exports
 Central Asia is resource-rich, with massive reserves of gas, oil, and strategic minerals such as uranium, copper, and gold.
 China has also prioritized its relationship with these countries to ensure peace in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, which forms its frontier with Central Asia.
 The Belt and Road Initiative also plays a critical role as a transit hub for China’s trade with Europe. 

Why China matters to Central Asian Countries?
 Beijing’s strong economic credentials and huge investments have covered increase oil and gas exploration, rail-road and seaport connectivity.
 Huge investments have aided digital technology and green energy projects.
 Chinese investments have helped to upgrade Soviet-era infrastructure and carry out development works in these countries.
 The BRI which is modern day Silk route will help Central Asian countries to become a valuable part of supply chain and increase their trade prospects with other Western and middle east countries.

The implications of growing Chinese influence in the region for Russia:
 The region is economically dependent on Russia, which is also Central Asia’s net security provider.
 Russia’s trade with these countries has increased over the last year, as it attempts to find substitutes for imports from Europe.
 Russia also has a huge migrant population of Central Asians who bind the region to it in economic dependency.
 Both Russia and China are now competing for the title of the top trading partner in the area. But, China is making good use of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine to push Moscow out of its own strategic backyard.
 The Ukrainian invasion has given rise to fears (among Central Asian countries) that a security relationship with Moscow could prove to be a double-edged weapon.

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