STAGES OF CHINA’S ECONOMIC POLICY IN CENTRAL ASIA
Vladimir PARAMONOV, Alexei STROKOV, Oleg STOLPOVSKIY
Vladimir Paramonov, Ph.D. (Political Science), Independent Expert (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
Alexei Strokov, Independent Expert (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
Oleg Stolpovskiy, Independent Military Analyst (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
Close economic relations have existed between China and Central Asia (CA) for many centuries.
During the heyday of the Great Silk Road (right up until the middle of the 2nd century AD), state formations located in the region and around it (for example, today’s Xinjiang) served as a link between China and Europe and were developed economic, trade, and financial centers.
For a long time, the driving force behind trade in these territories was China, which was also a vital source of scientific knowledge and advanced technology.
In the second half of the 19th century, CA belonged to the Russian Empire, and its relations with China, including Xinjiang, began to falter. Later, the Central Asian region became an integral part of the Soviet Union and its independent relations with China were essentially reduced to naught. Direct economic relations between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and CA could not develop until after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
When examining the Central Asian vector of the PRC’s economic policy in the post-Soviet period, it can be provisionally divided into three main stages:
The first stage covers the beginning of the 1990s. It is characterized by the PRC’s extremely cautious behavior toward CA and the establishment of the first trade contacts between them.
At that time, the Central Asian vector did not occupy an important place in China’s foreign strategy. This was because the PRC’s long-term interests in the region had not yet taken definite shape and the opportunities (economic, political-diplomatic, and so on) for the country to gain access to CA were limited.
In addition, Beijing continued, out of habit, to regard CA as a zone of Moscow’s exclusive interests and did not want to obstruct the normalization of Sino-Russian relations.
Therefore China concentrated primarily on developing diplomatic contacts with the region’s countries, settling border and territorial disputes with Russia, reducing the military presence in the border regions, and resolving security problems as a whole.
At that time, the question of economic penetration into the region had not been raised; China’s trade contacts with the CA countries had emerged and were largely developing spontaneously, while so-called shuttle trade accounted for the lion’s share of Chinese-Central Asian commerce.
The second stage covers the period from the middle to the end of the 1990s until the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in 2001. It is characterized by China’s targeted efforts to……………..