CHINA MAKES A GRAB FOR THE SCO

Author: Aleksandr Knyazev

CHINA MAKES A GRAB FOR THE SCO. (By Aleksandr Knyazev. Nezavisimaya gazeta, Sept. 13, 2013, p. 3. Condensed text:) The results of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visits to Central Asian countries [see article in this section, above] indicate that one of Beijing's principal goals at the SCO Summit in Bishkek was to "unveil" for everyone a fundamentally new stage in China's activity in the region.

Until now, its activity in Central Asia had been rather fragmentary: individual enterprises, local infrastructure projects, etc. The only country where the Chinese have entrenched themselves systemically so far is Tajikistan: Perhaps that is why Dushanbe was excluded from the Chinese president's itinerary. Judging by the content of the agreements that were signed in the four capitals [Ashgabat, Astana, Tashkent and Bishkek], it is now time for China to integrate all its previous arrangements into a unified system of control over Central Asia. "China has shown how it is possible to cooperate with all of these countries, including Uzbekistan," said [Uzbek President] Islam Karimov, appraising the Chinese president's visit to Tashkent. This sounds almost like a death sentence for all initiatives that go beyond the scope of China's plans.

China has been acting cautiously in the region until now, preferring the well-known position of the monkey watching two tigers fight - i.e., Russia and the US. Russia's unfocused policy in the region and its lack of potential for fundamental change are evidently compelling Beijing to act independently - and, we must say, aggressively. The Chinese president's visits are reminiscent of Chicago mafia practices: He is making the presidents offers that are hard to refuse. Amid the tens of billions of dollars pledged for Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the $3 billion promised to Kyrgyzstan looks modest, of course. However, there is a chance of gaining trust, and that is what is being discussed in Bishkek: China needs a railway line from Kashgar to ...

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