The China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly

Published by the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program

The Alashankou Border Crossing, Xinjiang, PRC. Photo courtesy of ERINA, Japan.

Volume 6 - No. 2 - 2008

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Editors' Note

Niklas Swanstrom and Nicklas Norling

The Central Asian region has changed immensely since independence but what is extraordinary about this region is how pronounced these changes are even on a year-to-year basis. To grasp the current state of affairs we have brought together some of the foremost scholars in the field to give you a detailed account of this. This issue includes both assessments on the regional powers influence, the changing domestic politics in the individual states and how these processes, in turn, have impacted their foreign policy (...)


Reassessing the Fleeting Potential for U.S.-China Cooperation in Central Asia

Matthew Oresman

Four years ago, I wrote in the pages of this Journal how the United States and China share vital interests in Central Asia and should cooperate in achieving those interests. While that analysis remains unchanged, I also had warned that the window for cooperation was shrinking and that China’s incentives for cooperating with the United States would diminish over time. Unfortunately, the United States failed to seize the opportunity to engage China, instead choosing to take a “wait and see” approach to China’s re-emergence in Central Asia (...)

Criminalization of the Kyrgyz State Before and After the Tulip Revolution

Erica Marat

Kyrgyzstan, a country hosting U.S. and Russian military bases, is increasingly becoming a criminal state with high-ranking political leaders staging major financial and criminal machinations. Since gaining independence in 1991, Kyrgyzstan's criminal groups and their leaders exercised different degrees of political control in the country. During the reign of former president Askar Akayev, criminal leaders had the relative freedom to maneuver, cooperating or conflicting with state actors whenever their interests matched or diverged (...)

Rethinking Central Asian Security

Stephen Blank

Since becoming independent in 1991 Central Asian states have posed a challenge for contemporary security analysis. Security remains a contested term but more and more analysts, especially those studying this region, have come to define it in response to broad and often interlinked domestic and foreign threats or challenges to these states. Indeed, the linkages between state failure and domestic pathologies and foreign intervention or diminution of sovereignty are palpable and visible in the policies of local governments and among the rival great powers. Yet despite widespread condemnation of the supposedly pathological or weak and ineffective domestic structures, only one of these regimes has been toppled by revolution (Kyrgyzstan) and even that did not lead to a major restructuring (...)

Kazakhstan: Will “BRIC” be Spelled with a K?

Martha Brill Olcott

During its seventeen years of independence, Kazakhstan has gradually strengthened its sovereignty, achieved important economic reforms, and widened its room for foreign policy maneuver. Kazakhstan is today considered a “middle income” country by the World Bank, investments are pouring into the economy, while its recently acquired chairmanship of the OSCE in 2010 stands out as only one in a row of major foreign policy successes. Is this the peak of possible achievements or will Kazakhstan even join the ranks of the “BRIC” countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China)? (...)

China’s Central Asian Strategy and the Xinjiang Connection: Predicaments and Medicaments in a Contemporary

Yitzhak Schicor

Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Beijing moved swiftly to redefine its long suspended foreign policy and strategic agenda in Central Asia and to resume its relations with its newly independent republics. Opening the borders reflected Beijing's bold decision to give priority to economic development while risking instability in the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region. Officially, China initiated the Shanghai Five and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to target separatism, terrorism, religious extremism (and implicitly U.S. hegemonism as well). Unofficially Beijing has tried to acquire political influence, security guarantees, economic benefits and accessibility to energy resources. In a retrospective view, China's achievements are a mixed blessing at best and only partly successful (...)

China as an Emerging Superpower in Central Asia: The View from Ashkhabad

Jan Šír and Slavomír Horák

With the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, Russia gradually lost its position as the dominant foreign power in Central Asia. The United States, Europe, and the Muslim World, among others, started to assert their influence over the post-Soviet states in this region. Since the late 1990s, China has been increasingly active there as well, mainly in search for energy resources to sustain its rapid economic growth. This article provides an overview of the Sino-Turkmen relations after 1991. In particular, the latest developments concerning the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline project are discussed, which in the summer of 2007 entered the final stage of implementation (...)

China’s Integration of Xinjiang with Central Asia: Securing a “Silk Road” to Great Power Status

Michael Clarke

Despite the turning of the international spotlight on the region courtesy of 9/11, the question as to what drives China’s power and imperatives in Central Asia (as elsewhere in the world) remain a matter of debate. This article argues that there is a largely complementary relationship between what may be termed China’s Xinjiang, Central Asia and grand strategy-derived interests. Key to balancing these interests has been Beijing’s post-1991 attempt to utilize Xinjiang’s pivotal geopolitical position to simultaneously integrate Xinjiang and expand its influence in Central Asia (...)




Current Issue

Executive Editors

  • Niklas Swanstrom
  • Christopher Len

News-digest Editor

  • Dan Wu

Senior Advisors

  • Daniel L. Burghart
  • Svante Cornell
  • Malia K. Du Mont
  • David M. Finkelstein
  • Bates Gill
  • James A. Millward
  • Nicklas Norling
  • Matthew Oresman
  • Pan Guang
  • Sebastien Peyrouse
  • S. Frederick Starr
  • Farkhod Tolipov
  • Dmitri V. Trenin
  • Zhao Huasheng