Staunton, November 11 – A wave of anti-Chinese protests over the last two years in Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan highlight the deep roots and continuing strength of Sinophobia on the post-Soviet space and the inability of Beijing’s soft power initiatives to counter it, according to a group of scholars at Moscow State’s Information Analysis Center.
Ivan Zuyenko, Yury Klintsev, Alibek Mukambayev and Kubatkek Rakhimov in a new study that extends their article last summer in Russia in Global Affairs document just how widespread anti-Chinese protests have been in since 2019 and how ineffective Beijing’s massive propaganda efforts have been in limiting it (a-centr.ru/publications/antikitayskie-protesty-na-postsovetskom-prostranstve/eng.globalaffairs.ru/articles/sinophobia-post-soviet-space/).
Many suggest that Chinese mistreatment of Muslim groups in Xinjiang is the major cause, but the four authors note this doesn’t explain what has happened in Russia and argue that another trend helps to explain why these protests have been so numerous – the article documents many of the incidents.
The four suggest that it is precisely the growing cooperation between these three countries and China that is breeding a backlash. Many people in all three countries are offended by Chinese dominance in particular sectors. Moreover, because the three governments have supported Chinese involvement, at least some demonstrating are protesting the policies of their own regimes.
But the most striking thing about these anti-Chinese protests is that they have led to changes in government policy in all three of these countries. Following protests against China, Kazakhstan has introduced a moratorium on provisions of its land code that Beijing was exploiting for its own purposes.
And both Kyrgyzstan and Russia have blocked the expansion of existing Chinese investment projects and put on hold the question of whether to allow any new ones. In this case, a marked contrast with others, the three governments have responded to civil society even when popular attitudes undermine the policies these regimes support.