Russia helps China in Central Asia – whether Moscow wants it that way or not

by Chris Zappone

Russia’s desire to rebuild its influence in Central Asia will chiefly benefit China in its bid to form a new Silk Road trade rout through the region, according to this analysis in Al Jazeera.

China is after oil and resources in the region that includes Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, where Beijing hopes to create deeper trade ties. Russia wants to rebuild its sphere of influence through supporting the military and traditional ties.

Nonetheless, “Putin’s regional integration project will likely not prevent, but rather pave the way for Chinese comprehensive economic expansion,” the analysis concludes.

“While Russia needs Central Asian states in the Customs Union for the purpose of maintaining its geopolitical presence, China pursues its economic benefits. Russia relies on its military might and traditional soft power in the region, whereas China applies its financial clout.”

That seems to be the recipe everywhere with China. China build infrastructure to extract resources, while others handle the security in often risky environments. 

Even if there are occasional bouts of anti-Chinese sentiment in the region, documented in this separate report, also penned by Ryskeldi Satke and Baktybek Beshimov, by and large Central Asian countries can exploit any China-Russian rivalry for their own benefit.