The sino-Russian strategic partnership has become more of a reality since Russia’s breakup with the west over Ukraine; malta, Russia, and China share a desire to challenge the western dominated international order principles. However, there is an increasing concern for Russia over china’s efforts to deepen its influence and Russia’s loss of influence in Central Asia also growing Chinese economic influence within Russia in the arctic. Possible territorial disputes in Russia’s far east-central Asia are the central region of Asia stretching From the Caspian sea in the west to the western Chinese border in the east, Russia boards it on the north and Iran, Afghanistan, and China on the south. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan are the former Soviet republics that make up the region. For a long time, China relied on the Russian military presence in central Asia, the SCO china’s growing security role in Tajikistan, and its willingness to act outside of the SCO. It may raise uneasy questions for Russia.
Many observers believe these developments will irritate Moscow and signal china’s growing political ambitions. In September 2016. China also reached an agreement with Tajikistan to improve Tajikistan’s defense capabilities along the Tajik Afghan border by constructing outposts and training centers. But china’s presence has generally been viewed with suspicion by the region’s common people and the widespread anti-Chinese sentiment among central Asians. Mainly because of the oppressive treatment of Muslim minorities in china and accusations of debt-trap diplomacy, but the fact is, china is the biggest trading partner and has strong relations with the governments of central Asian countries.
Chinese interests and activities in central Asia have been part of a carefully crafted plan. In recent years. Central Asia is undergoing a significant power rebalancing with Russia declining in china emerging as one of the region’s most influential players. Russia and China pursue different goals in the region. In the 1990s, Russia’s trade with Central Asia accounted for 80 percent since china has been able to outpace Russia in many areas of trade, becoming one of the region’s most powerful actors.
Meanwhile, China is not the only one benefiting from Russia’s decline. Other foreign governments were also able to invest heavily in the region. Russia consolidates its political power. It frequently pursues a collective policy through the Eurasian economic union, the collective security treaty organization, and the commonwealth of independent states. Meanwhile, China prefers a bilateral approach to safeguarding its economic interests, appetite for Central Asian energy resources, and ample reserves, which it distributes to the region through commercial investments, loans, the Asian infrastructure investment bank, and a variety of other entities.
China’S rise in central Asia can be attributed to its broad vision for regional connectivity by advancing the belt and road initiative. Unlike the west, china does not press central Asian governments for political reform, and, unlike Russia, Beijing does not use political pressure to keep the region on track. The lack of an overt political agenda other than regional stability, which Beijing believes can be ensured through economic development, makes china especially appealing to local governments, while Russia generally is focused on hard power. The Eurasian economic union is Russia’s own economic integration initiative. It is primarily used as a political tool.
Moscow is keen to highlight its geopolitical influence or lay claim to the region as part of its privileged sphere of influence. Its actions in Ukraine have alienated prominent central Asian political elites. Given the circumstances, Moscow and Beijing have enough political will to coordinate their regional initiatives and avoid conflicts. According to Arkady dubnov, a Russian political analyst, Russia was forced to recognize china’s leading role in financing. An investment in central Asia and china promised to consider Russian interests in the region. The Eurasian economic union and china signed a trade and economic cooperation agreement in 2018.
China also recognizes that Moscow is essential to the BRI success in central Asia, even though it is an absent partner in the BRI. It is especially relevant in light of the region’s growing cynophobia and ethnic nationalism, fueled in part by china’s policies in Xinjiang. Therefore, even though Russia’s cultural influence in the region is slowly decreasing, it still wields considerable power over central Asian political elites, because the export structure of the five republics key economic sectors reveals that Russia has a comparative advantage in purchasing key commodities produced in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. While remaining competitive with china in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Moscow remains a significant economic player for central Asians. But the question is how long this will last the Chinese goal in central Asia.
Beijing primarily engages with central Asia on economic issues, so there is little Russia can do about it. Chinese goal in central Asia is to find external markets for Chinese companies active in construction and infrastructure development as part of china’s go out strategy. China also offers a diverse range of cooperation opportunities due to its ample financial resources, and Moscow cannot compete economically. Russia’s investments in the region have been lacking, and remittances from central Asian immigrants to Russia have declined significantly, owing largely to Russia’s economic downturn and western sanctions. According to Valerio, Fabry is writing in the Moscow-based think tank Russian international affairs council.
Russia views china’s growing economic and political penetration in the resource-rich central Asia with great unease and usually at its own expense. Even as sino-Russian relations are invariably good, they may find many convergences. He remarked that their bilateral ties are pragmatic, rather than ideological, the reality of partnership. China’S growing geopolitical and geo-economic influence is most visible in central Asia and it has learned how to manage Russian concerns about its growing regional influence, much to Moscow’s frustration. The country’s ability to establish a more stable economic footing in the region is limited.
China has been able to outpace Russia in many key areas of trade, investment, and infrastructure development, cutting its military hold in the region and becoming one of the region’s most dominant players. In the arctic, Russia relies on china to help it achieve many of its infrastructure and resource extraction goals, and china is eager to tap into the arctic’s economic potential and improve its technological prowess by collaborating on key projects with Russia. However, this poses new challenges for Moscow, which is fiercely protective of its regional sovereignty consequences, even though china and Russia’s relationship is being hailed as a coordination model. But both countries are wary of each other and well aware that the treaty of good neighborliness and friendly cooperation signed in 2001 and renewed this year is merely a framework for dialogue. Far from framing a strategic alliance.
Because in this relationship, china has the upper hand and this power asymmetry will continue to grow at Russia’s expense, and this demonstrates their relationship is complicated. With lingering mistrust on both sides, unfulfilled expectations on both sides could dampen the sino-Russian partnership. China’s long-term plans for Russia are unclear, as the country plans to play a more active role in regional and global affairs. China’S choices will determine the direction of the sino-Russian relationship, while Russia will only be able to react, you
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