CHINA’S PRESENCE IN THE ENERGY SECTOR OF CENTRAL ASIA
Konstantin Syroezhkin, D.Sc. (Political Science), Professor, Chief Researcher at the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Almaty, Kazakhstan)
When the fourth generation of leaders came to power in China, the country began drawing up its policy in Central Asia (CA) on the concept of peripheral diplomacy, which since 2005 has been based not on the thesis of “China’s peaceful rise,” but on the theory of “peaceful development” that came to replace it, as well as on the idea proposed by Hu Jintao of “working together to build a harmonious world.” At present, China’s relations with the regional states are being established in keeping with the concept of “friendly, peaceful, and prosperous neighbors” (mulin, anlin, fulin) confirmed at the 17th congress of the CPC. As Fudan University Professor Zhao Huasheng, a leading Chinese specialist on CA, emphasized, this concept, which was formulated as early as 2003, reflects the new approaches to relations with neighboring countries.
The changes in the PRC’s foreign policy were prompted by the rapid economic growth and reinforcement of the state’s power, which, naturally, might arouse worries in neighboring countries, most of which are weaker than China. In such conditions, it was critically important to document a new policy concept, proceeding from which the key elements in developing relations with neighboring countries are not only solving one’s own tasks, but also taking into account the interests of one’s neighbors; this precept is of fundamental significance.
China’s growing interest in CA is fully justified and explained by the increase in this region’s importance in the world economy and politics; along with the growing threats and challenges ensuing from the region, new possibilities and prospects have opened up.
A key aspect of China’s foreign policy in CA is economic penetration into the region by implementing bilateral and multilateral economic and infrastructural projects (within the framework of the SCO primarily with Chinese funding) with the participation of Chinese companies and issuing soft loans for developing bilateral commerce. This is shown by the fact that China has been administering commercial and infrastructural loans within the SCO, as well as stepping up its bilateral and multilateral economic contacts with the region’s states.
China has economic interests in several vectors of the region, one of which is trade. Whereas China’s economic expansion in CA is extremely conditional, trade expansion has already been accomplished. With the exception of Uzbekistan and possibly Turkmenistan, the other states of the region see no alternative to China’s commercial supremacy; Kazakhstan has long been strongly addicted to China’s presence, while Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan joined the……………..