China vs. Central Asia. The achievements of the past two decades
The collapse of the USSR brought about conditions conducive to the dynamic development of relations between Central Asia and China. These relations have evolved from deep mistrust to the continually growing Chinese presence primarily in the region’s economy but also increasingly in its politics. Central Asia is playing a growing role in those areas of the economy which China sees as strategic (in particular in energy and communications). China’s ambitions and capabilities with regard to new areas and its geopolitical competitors are also being tested here. For the time being, it can be said that China has achieved vast success: its offer is appealing for the region, and Beijing has outpaced its Western rivals and has seriously challenged Russia’s position in the region. It remains, however, an open question whether China will be able to maintain and secure its present achievements and trends, which will be a serious challenge given the eternal instability in the region and Russia’s reintegration ambitions.