Staunton, September 12 -- Across Central Asia, anti-Chinese attitudes are intensifying as Beijing becomes more involved in the economies of all five countries; but many of the more dramatic protests appear to be the result of actions of politicians who are using the issue to harm their opponents and boost their own chances, Pavel Dyatlenko says.
The Bishkek-based journalist says that over the last several years, anti-Chinese attitudes have been on the rise in Central Asia and that whenever they lead to protests, Beijing reacts quickly and punitively, shutting consulates and suspending investment projects (ia-centr.ru/experts/pavel-dyatlenko/antikitayskie-nastroeniya-v-tsa-stali-instrumentom-vnutripoliticheskoy-borby/; cf. jamestown.org/program/anti-chinese-protests-spread-across-kazakhstan/).
In Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, some in the population are alarmed by the massive debts to China that Bishkek and Dushanbe have run up, a development that many fear Beijing will exploit to gain political dominance. Elsewhere, the fact that Chinese investments have sparked Chinese immigration rather than created jobs for Central Asians is the bigger problem.
Dyatlenko suggests that China will continue to expand its presence and likely provoke more hostility unless and until an alternative foreign investor appears, something Russia is not now in a position to be and that no other country appears prepared to play that role or until the five either by themselves or with Russia create a broader economic union.
Consequently, the kind of protests that have riled Kazakhstan in recent weeks are likely to continue, he suggests, especially if politicians, both in the government and among the opposition try to use them for their own purposes. If they do not restrain themselves and the people, the danger that the situation could get out of hand is very real.