China and Russia in Central Asia: A Tricky Balance [Conference Recap]

PONARS Eurasia
04 Oct 2019

(Russia Matters) This fall, Central Asia’s richest country was shaken yet again, on at least two separate occasions, by anti-government protests with decidedly anti-Chinese sentiments. Local unease with Beijing’s intentions and investments—which have ballooned to tens of billions of dollars throughout the region—has become easy to exploit for “the mischievous and hot-headed,” as a veteran Central Asia reporter wrote after the protests. It’s no wonder then that China’s role in the region, alongside Russia and other world powers, was a popular topic of discussion at a recent conference held by PONARS Eurasia, a global network of scholars who convene once a year in Washington, D.C. Among the points that resonated most were that Central Asians’ perceptions of China are complicated, that Western countries have a role to play in Central Asia despite their limited presence in the region and that, whatever tensions Central Asia may cause in the Russia-China relationship, ties between the two countries are generally close and durable enough to withstand them. [...]

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