Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Beijing Putting Far More Diplomatic Muscle in Kazakhstan that Moscow is, Shibutov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 4 – Marat Shibutov, a Regnum news agency specialist on Central Asia, continues his survey of the background of the diplomats various countries have named ambassador in that region and concludes that Beijing is putting far more diplomatic muscle into Kazakhstan than Moscow is.

            Last week, he examined the status of the ambassadors the Central Asian countries and Russia have exchanged (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/08/ambassadors-exchanged-by-central-asian.html). This week, Shibutov considers the backgrounds of the ambassadors Astana and Beijing have assigned to each other (regnum.ru/news/polit/2475290.html).

            On the basis of these two investigations, Shibutov concludes that “the Chinese approach reflects the Chinese strategy of foreign policy where priorities are given to the great powers and neighbors.” Beijing’s ambassadors in Kazakhstan have thus been “cadre diplomats, specializing in the region and having great experience on the post-Soviet space.”

            As a result, for Chinese appointed to serve in Kazakhstan, this is “a move up the cadres latter, leading towards the top.”

            Russian ambassadors to Central Asia in general and Kazakhstan in particular, Shibutov points out, are “pensions who in the majority of cases haven’t been involved in the region and whose careers are almost at an end.”

            Specifically with regard to exchanges between Beijing and Astana, Shibutov notes that Kazakhstan has sent six ambassadors to Beijing since 1991, one approximately every four years. The average age at their appointment was approximately 50. Only three had experience in the foreign ministry before going to the Chinese capital.  And none was an expert on China.

            “After returning to their motherland from China,” the Regnum analyst says, “the ambassadors continued their careers in the most varied spheres,” with some rising as high as deputy speaker of the Majlis and secretary of the National Security Council. On the whole, Kazakhstan has sent political “’heavyweights’” to China, an indication of its importance.

            Over the same period, Beijing has sent 11 ambassadors to Kazakhstan. Their average age at time of appointment was 51. All were diplomats or party officials responsible for diplomatic work.  All had experience in the USSR or one or another post-Soviet state.  And their specialization was as Sovietologists or Russianists, Shibutov says.

            After service in Astana, all the Chinese ambassadors moved up the diplomatic ladder, in two cases to the post of deputy foreign minister.

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