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October 2018

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

Russia’s Role in the OBOR?

Police collect Uighurs DNA in Xinjiang

Nazarbayev Visits the USA

1) China’s Massive ‘One Road’ Project Largely Bypasses Russia, But Moscow Still On Board

Russia has a difficult job trying to address the advance of the Chinese into Central Asia, which Kremlin perceives as their ‘sphere of influence’. Much of the Chinese projects and investment involved with the OBOR are not heading to, nor interacting with, Moscow. Despite this, Putin has publicly embraced the OBOR; “I have no doubt that we will work together…[to] benefit both the Chinese and Russian peoples” whilst also working to keep Russia as a dominant force in Central Asia, specifically with the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

Comment:

Alexander Cooley (Great Game, Local Rules) makes the interesting point that Putin is inexplicitly stating that Russia isn’t going to be the dominant power in CA and is trying to accept the new reality while positioning to gain as much he can.

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2) Chinese authorities collect DNA from Xinjiang residents

A Human Rights Watch report claims that Chinese authorities in the heavily controlled Xinjiang region are collecting DNA from all residents through Government provided ‘free health check-ups’. The health screenings are meant to be voluntary, but the article claims that Uighurs are often forced to undertake them. Under the claim that the authorities are doing the tests to help alleviate poverty and improve social stability, 19 million people’s DNA are now on a police database.

Comment:

The obvious concern (apart from infringements on personal liberty) is that if this proves successful, then it would be rolled out across the whole of the mainland and adopted by authoritarian ‘client’ states, such as Cambodia.

Connected: In China’s handling of the Xinjiang region, particularly its largely Muslim Uyghur population, scholars see echoes of North Korea and South African apartheid Key quote:

David Brophy; “Xinjiang very much feels like a military occupation now.” Twelve Days in Xinjiang: How China’s Surveillance State Overwhelms Daily Life The surveillance of the Uighurs: the future for China? In Xinjiang, China’s ‘Neo-Totalitarian’ Turn Is Already a Reality Michael Clarke’s piece on technological advances in social control China ‘holding at least 120,000 Uighurs in re-education camps’ China testing facial-recognition surveillance system in Xinjiang China’s Domestic Security Spending: An Analysis of Available Data Key quote:

“On February 1, 2018, China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) revealed a stunning 92.8 percent increase in its domestic security spending: from 30.05 billion RMB in 2016 to 57.95 billion RMB in 2017 (Xinjiang Net, 3 February). Within a decade, this figure has increased nearly ten-fold, up from 5.45 billion RMB in 2007.” China Xinjiang police state: Fear and resentment China’s Uyghur Muslims, under pressure at home and abroad What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State China: Big Data Fuels Crackdown in Minority Region Comment:

The sheer amount of articles coming out from Xinjiang (plus this author’s own personal experience of visiting Urumqi in October of 2017), is starting to confirm a trend of extensive data and digital tracking of mostly minority citizens in North West China. ________________________________________________________


3) Nazarbayev plays ‘honest broker’ in new Great Game

Nazarbayev used his visit to Washington to keep in place his policy of multi-vector foreign policy, balancing Russian, Chinese and American interests. It is claimed that up to US $7b worth of deals were signed during the visit. Comment: Despite Trump’s ‘America First’ insular policies appearing to not value CA too highly, Nazarbayev appears committed to his ‘tri vector’ approach and keeping good terms with Russia, China and the USA. Connected: Kazakh President on how Kazakhstan can benefit from Silk Road

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4) Will Trump make China great again? The BRI and international order

Paper that discusses that National Unity and networked capitalism in China are not opposing but fusing in realization in regards to the OBOR. If new Silk Road is successful, then it proposes that the winners will be urban centers in Eurasia and the CCP, while countries not included, most notably the US, will lose out – especially under Trump’s America First protectionist model.

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5) “Silk Road” as foreign policy discourse: The construction of Chinese, Japanese and Korean engagement strategies in Central Asia

A paper that puts forward the proposition that the Silk Road is a construct, rather than a concrete reality. And this construct varies depending on who (China, South Korea, Japan, etc.) perceives it, the context is it presented, receiving states perspectives, and wider international attention.

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6) New China-Europe freight train route launched

A new rail/ship line from Urumqi to Europe was unveiled. The 4000+ journey is a third quicker leaving Xinxiang, travelling through Kazakhstan by rail and onto Azerbaijani docks for loading onto ships. Key Quote: The number of China-Europe freight train trips reached a new high of more than 3,000 last year, and is expected to reach 4,000 this year, according to China Railway Corporation. ________________________________________________________


7) Understanding China’s Rise Under Xi Jinping — By The Honourable Kevin Rudd Kevin Rudd’s interesting analysis of Xi Jinping.

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8) Dr. Marlene Laruelle Kazakhstan’s Nationhood: Politics and Society on the Move

Laruelle describes changes in Kazakhstan; arguing that due to demographic, cultural and religious factors Kazakhstan is entering a post – post – Soviet phase, which will reshape policy in the future. Key Quote: “Everything Kazakhstani is on the decline and everything Kazakh is on the rise” ________________________________________________________


9) Kyrgyzstan Out, Central Asia In Parsing CENTCOM’s 2018 Posture Statement

The annual U.S. Central Command posture statement delivered to the Senate Armed Service Committee. The report covers the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia and reveals concerns about the increasing influence of Russia and China and the deterioration of the US military partnership with Kyrgyzstan Key Quote: “The Kyrgyz Republic has increasingly aligned its interests with Russia and China”.

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