What is more important for Tokayev: Russian power or Chinese money
Beijing will receive its dividends especially without risking anything
China is ready to deepen cooperation with Kazakhstan in the field of security, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said today. Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, as well as Foreign Minister of the country Mukhtar Tleuberdi.
Will it work, while Russia is putting things in order in the region with the help of the CSTO peacekeeping forces, diplomatic China is using the situation to its advantage, but nothing special risk-free?
We talked about this with our experts.
As you know, relations with the PRC for Kazakhstan are no less, and perhaps even more important than with Russia. Especially in connection with the global economic expansion of the Celestial Empire. Kazakhstan, on the other hand, is one of the main transit points and transport hubs for freight trains “China-Europe”, the route of the global economic initiative “One Belt, One Road” passes here, therefore, the internal stability of Kazakhstan and what is happening there today cannot but worry official Beijing.
But are the Chinese ready to directly intervene in what is happening?
– China acts exactly within its own paradigm, it never interferes in the internal political sphere of other states. Secondly, China now does not have adequate resources to somehow help Kazakhstan. I do not mean that he lacks military power, but he will not fire a cannon at sparrows. Here he ceded this role to the Russian Federation, which is much better at coping with the current challenges. Moreover, there is a legal basis for the intervention – the CSTO.
-China can only be on its own side. For all of its foreign economic programs, the main thing is stability. He is interested in implementing his own foreign economic expansion within the framework of China's Belt and Road Initiative. This is the Silk Road Economic Belt, and cooperation with Kazakhstan on oil, gas, uranium and other natural resources, on the transit of Chinese goods to Europe. I think China is not very concerned about how this stability will be ensured.
– I think that this is quite harmonious cooperation with China from our side. It is obvious that the Russian Federation cannot compete with China in the economic sphere. Therefore, it is logical that our country acts primarily in the field of security. And China will successfully continue its economic activities.
– You know, when these tragic events broke out, we all followed what was happening, and Russia and China reacted almost simultaneously. Russia, together with its CSTO partners, sent a peacekeeping contingent there, and Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China is ready to provide all kinds of assistance to the Republic of Kazakhstan, which he called an ally and a good partner.
– Yes, of course, this raises the question of what kind of assistance it is, because the Russian Federation takes care of everything related to security issues, but for Kazakhstan, the number one trade partner is China. Therefore, if we talk about real help, then, in case of official requests, it could be things related, for example, to a decrease in prices for liquefied gas. With the growth of which, as they say, the unrest began. Kazakhstan borders on Turkmenistan, from where China imports gas even more than from Russia, purely theoretically I see an opportunity to agree on the supply of the southern regions of Kazakhstan with Turkmen gas. Much can depend on China in this matter. Questions of cooperation can be very different.
– I don't think it's incomparable. In fact, if we look at the situation in Central Asia, then such a division of spheres of influence between Russia and China has already taken shape. If something happens, Russia takes on security guarantees, and China makes huge investments in the economies of the countries of the region. I don't think Russia thinks that China wants to take advantage of this situation. Russia is not able to provide what these countries want from it – rather poor, rather undeveloped, it is unrealistic to believe that a state like Russia is capable of covering all their needs. No one can do this alone.
– This was unexpected for all of us in general, but let's not forget that China has its own very problematic region – Xinjiang Uygur, bordering Kazakhstan. Separatist sentiments have been recorded there for many decades, they are also called the “forces of three evils”: separatism, extremism and terrorism. Perhaps the Uighurs even migrate to Kazakhstan, since there is a common border. This is also an issue that the authorities of Kazakhstan and China could discuss and jointly solve. That is, there are a lot of very important subjects that could unite these two states for the purpose of mutual assistance, with a bias in the economic and trade spheres.