China finds investment in Kyrgyzstan a risky necessity
The Central Asian rollout of China’s infrastructure construction program, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has become a boon to Kyrgyzstan. There are big plans for the future, but also troubles on the horizon. Mounting anger over China’s predatory practices as a lender and investor, and concern for the abused Muslim Uighurs in China, have fed nationalistic, anti-China sentiment among the Kyrgyz population.
Turkmenistan comes into focus
Long neglected by all but devoted regional specialists, Turkmenistan has recently begun to matter in international politics. The reason is a sharp drop in energy prices, which has turned the gas-rich country into an economic basket case, and the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. Both developments have Russian and Chinese policymakers concerned about their vital interests in Central Asia.
Uzbekistan’s reforms: Opening a new era in Central Asia?
Uzbekistan’s new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has embarked on a series of far-reaching reforms. While some domestic initiatives – such as strengthening the rule of law and liberalizing the market – will take more time to show results, a new, proactive foreign policy is already having positive effects. How far Tashkent will take these reforms is still in question, but a stronger Uzbekistan will mean a less influential Russia in the region.
Russia’s and China’s quiet contest in Central Asia
While Russia focuses on its geopolitical objectives in Central Asia, China’s primarily interest is in the region’s mineral and energy resources. As recipients of Chinese investments and development aid, the five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – are seeking to leverage the two powers’ competition for their own benefit.
Mongolia’s consensus-based governance shields democracy
Battulga Khaltmaa won the 2017 presidential race in Mongolia with the sort of discourse that has been also heard from populists in the West, but the country’s well-balanced constitutional system and its ingrained culture of consensus decision-making are shielding one of Asia’s rare democracies from backsliding into authoritarian rule.
GIS Dossier: A new Great Game in Central Asia
The five independent states of Central Asia that emerged after the dissolution of the Soviet Union are being courted and pressured by the globe’s key powers in a contemporary version of the 19th century’s Great Game in the region – this time over their vast energy resources.
Central Asia facing turmoil
With the death of Uzbekistan’s president, growing unrest in Tajikistan, an unclear succession plan in Kazakhstan and recent terror attacks in Kyrgyzstan, instability across Central Asia has now become a distinct possibility. The geographical proximity of Afghanistan and the intersecting interests of foreign powers in the region make the situation more difficult.