The passing of a dictator in Uzbekistan and a terror attack on the Chinese embassy in Kyrgystan highlight the exploding instability of Central Asia — the past dominion of Russia and the future hope of China.
Just two months ago, China’s leader Xi visited the now-passed dictator Karimov of Uzbekistan in Central Asia, to celebrate a grand expansion of economic cooperation between the two countries. All of that careful planning is now at critical risk, with the passing of Uzbekistan’s Karimov.
China is one of the largest trade-economic and investment partners of Uzbekistan. The volumes of mutual trade are dynamically increasing. Bilateral trade turnover exceeded US$4.1 billion in 2015. In four months of 2016 the trade turnover reached US$1.4 billion.
__ China’s Big Investment in Central Asia at Risk
China Aims to Take Over the Region in Grand Silk Road Style
Uzbekistan is at the pivot of Central Asia.
Uzbekistan is Central Asia’s most populous country, with its largest military, thus clout within the group, as witnessed by the recent head of state summit in Tashkent on June 23-24, 2016.
During this meeting, China vowed to upgrade its relations with Uzbekistan to that of ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ and celebrated the inauguration of the Qamchiq Tunnel, Central Asia’s longest railway tunnel – a key Silk Road infrastructure project.
Uzbekistan is also a valuable source of raw materials for China, notably uranium, natural gas and gold (the country has the world’s fourth largest reserves). More importantly, however, is the role Uzbekistan plays in connecting China with LNG suppliers further to the west. Uzbekistan is the linchpin in the Central Asia-China Pipeline: all three lines run through Uzbek territory, as will the fourth (Line D); currently under construction. __ http://globalriskinsights.com/2016/09/if-islam-karimov-is-dead-chinas-lng-threatened/
Central Asian Economies Are Suffering: Like Russia’s, Like China’s
From Beijing to Moscow to nations in between, economies are being squeezed. Besides taking the brunt of the ongoing political and economic uncertainties, Central Asia is at risk of falling to the global epidemic of radical Muslim dysfunction and violence.
But China is building big stakes in the region which may stabilise Central Asia from radical Islam. These investments are often at the expense of Russian influence, lending weight to the concept of a new “Great Game” in Central Asia between China and Russia. And don’t forget India.
Apart from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, China has major stakes in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan as part of the strategic Belt and Road initiative to revive the ancient Silk Road. “From an energy security perspective, China’s cooperation with Turkmenistan is essential to ensure gas supplies. There are now four pipelines from Turkmenistan that carry huge amount of gas to China. Kazakhstan, on the other hand is a major supplier of petroleum. Uzbekistan has huge uranium reserves, and Tajikistan is an anchor of non-traditional security,” observed Dr. Hu. “So there are different priorities with different countries…” __ Terror Attack in Kyrgyz
China Being Called to Exert Stronger Force Against Terrorism in Central Asia
Radical Islam is expanding in Central Asia at an alarming rate, with nations at the brink of civil war and open insurgency. China’s investments are spread across the region, and the already-struggling Middle Kingdom has much to lose if the region is lost to the combined mobs of terrorism and criminality. If Central Asia falls to radical terror, China’s west is suddenly at risk of being overrun. The same is true for Russia’s south — indeed the entire of Russia west of the Urals.
China’s Grand Silk Road Project is at Risk
The first cargo train from China is set to reach Afghanistan on September 9, signalling Beijing’s effort to consolidate ties with Kabul, as part of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative along the ancient Silk Road.
The train left China’s eastern city of Nantong on August 25, to cover a 15 day journey to Hairatan, on Afghanistan’s border with Uzbekistan.
On the way, it is crossing the Alataw pass on the China-Kazakhstan border before heading into Uzbekistan towards Termez. From Termez, once the springboard of Soviet Union’s intervention in Afghanistan, branch lines also head towards Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan towards the east, and westwards to Uzbekistan’s cultural icons—Samarkand and Bukhara. __ http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/chinas-first-cargo-train-to-afghanistan-fuels-one-belt-one-road-obor-engine/article9042851.ece
Beijing is already risking a devastatingly hard economic landing after building a mountain of debt so tall it penetrates the planetary atmosphere. If its carefully laid plans of expansion in Central Asia (not to mention Africa and Siberia) fail, the repercussions could be Earth-shaking.
Central Asia is Distant and Out of Mind
Westerners never consider Central Asia when contemplating the great forces at play in the world. But that is a monumental mistake which will come back to haunt them.
China’s grand, patient encirclement of Russia pivots around Central Asia — from Siberia in the East to Finland in the northwest. Beijing’s new anti-terrorism and Silk Road initiatives in Central Asia provide the cover under which extensive infiltration and displacement of Russian interests in the pivot can occur.
Chinese leadership understands the forces of disintegration which Putin has put into play inside Russia. The bear now has limited time to create suffering and mischief, and to generate fear and anxiety at home and abroad. The Potemkin facade which the KGB operative cum President has carefully built cannot sustain the forces of collapse which he himself has put into play. Central Asia is becoming a nightmare for Putin, along with the growing number of separatist regions within the Russian empire itself.
Most readers only need to be aware of the forces at play. Be aware, but focus mainly on responsibilities and projects closer to your own backyard.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late for a Dangerous Childhood.
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