Temur Umarov

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Xi'an, China, May 2023. Mark Cristino / Reuters

Last month marked a diplomatic milestone for Chinese President Xi Jinping. He had invited the leaders of five Central Asian states to the city of Xian for their first-ever joint summit with China. The reception, with festivities worthy of an Olympic opening ceremony, was lavish even by Chinese standards. It made official China’s foray into a region that even today is often referred to, for better or worse, as Russia’s backyard. The pomp, and the praise that Xi and his guests from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan heaped on one another, led some observers to proclaim a Sino-Russian scramble for Central Asia in which Beijing had just notched a victory at the Kremlin’s expense.…  Seguir leyendo »

Leaders of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation member states pose for a family photo during a summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Sept. 16. Sergei Guneyev/Sputnik/AFP

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may not have changed the global world order, but it has certainly changed the geopolitics of Asia. Before the war, if Belarus was Russia’s closest ally to the west and China to the east, Kazakhstan was unquestionably its greatest ally to the south. Unlike Belarus or China, however, Kazakhstan is not looking for any extra opportunities in its relations with Russia, instead trying to quietly dismantle an alliance it never really wanted without provoking Moscow’s wrath. Chinese President Xi Jinping picking Kazakhstan for his first foreign trip since January 2020, and promising to support Kazakhstan in “safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity”, gives a golden opportunity to further this goal.…  Seguir leyendo »