• simon land

June 2020

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

Kazakhstan: Over 100 detained in first protests since lockdown eased EuroNews Tags: protests China Kazakhstan land ownership Protests occurred again in several cities in Kazakhstan despite coronavirus lockdowns. Astana, Almaty and Uralsk saw small demonstrations despite protests needing official approval - rarely given - to be allowed to happen.

Reasons given by the protestors were financial hardship during the lockdown and arguments over privatised land. The group in Almaty also stated concerns over Chinese expansion in Kazakhstan. The demonstrations took place in the shadow of new legislation that apparently brings laws about protests in line with international standards of peaceful assembly but has been criticised by groups in Kazakhstan as clamping down on dissent. Comment: Interesting that matters concerning China still appear even when protests are ostensibly about other issues. Connected: Kazakhstan locks down several towns after spike in COVID-19 cases ________________________________________________________

Kazakhstan’s First President Nursultan Nazarbayev Tests Positive for COVID-19 The Diplomat

Tags: Nazarbayev covid19 Kazakhstan

It has been confirmed that Kazakhstan ‘leader of the nation’ Nazarbeyv has tested positive for coronavirus. While the releases state that he is asymptotic, there is concern that the man who holds significant positions and therefore immense power in Kazakhstan is 79 years old and mortally at risk from the disease. Attempts to control the virus are hitting difficulties in Kazakhstan and a second lockdown appears to be imminent, with a shutdown on the weekend of the 20th June. Several other members of the Kazakh government have also tested positive for the coronavirus. Comment: Difficult to find precedent on this issue. Many people look to Uzbekistani history for how changes may unfold if Nazarbayev does not recover but the Coronavirus makes the situation considerably different than the change over of power in Kazakhstan’s neighbouring country. Key Quote: “There is no cause for concern” and noted that Nazarbayev “continues to work remotely.” Connected: Key Western journalist in CA, Joanna Lillis reports on lockdown becoming more strict in KZ: Kazakhstan's first president tests positive for COVID-19 Ministers of 'Belt and Road Initiative’ issue joint statement on combating COVID-19 Behind Paywall: Kazakhstan's Ex-President Is Asymptomatic After Positive Coronavirus Test, Report Says ________________________________________________________

China convicts Uighurs in sham trials at Xinjiang camps Deutsche Welle

Tags: Xinjiang China Kazakhstan concentration camps A very detailed German media company piece that interviews four detainees of the Xinjiang imprisonment system that have been released. The former prisoners have family and documents that connect them to Kazakhstan (one of them holds a valid Kazakh residency permit) and have been released and relocated back to the Central Asian state, possibly with behind the scenes diplomacy.

The article records harrowing details of the incarceration of Muslim citizens in North-West China, including the ‘confession’ and trials of the people held there, the mechanisms used and some of the human rights violations. Comment: Another troubling account of life in Xinjiang for Chinese Muslim citizens Connected: What's been happening in China's Xinjiang, home to 11 million Uyghurs? China prevents being a 'second' USSR by curbing Uighurs

________________________________________________________ US presence in Central Asia: realities and perspectives The Times of Central Asia

Tags: protests china Kazakhstan land ownership Nurlan Aliyev is a PhD candidate and researcher at the Institute of International Relations of the University of Warsaw and these are his thoughts on the USA and its role in Central Asia. He argues that Pompeo’s visit to the region has enabled central states to reach out to the USA to balance themselves against Russia and China and this is in their interests to give themselves more room to manoeuvre.

Comment: Interesting that the stated aims of the USA are regional stability, counter-terrorism and energy supplies - which are the same as China’s. Key Quote: “However, a need to have a partner whose presence in the region allows Central Asian states to have more freedom of manoeuvre in their relations with Russia and China determine the development of relations with the United States.” Connected: The Sino-American Competition Is Coming to Central Asia U.S. Enacts New Law Condemning China’s Treatment of Uyghur and Other Muslims Is China Threatening America’s Dominance In The Digital Space?

________________________________________________________ The Digital Silk Road's growing strategic role during the epidemic China Global Television Network

Tags: Digital Technology BRI Health Silk Road CCTV Offshoot company op-ed about China’s development of digital and technological experiments and development and how it could benefit peoples along the BRI route. This coincides with much recent talk of a Heath Silk Road. Comment: A piece that wants to talk positively about the CPC’s development of mass digital technology and how it will affect the BRI rather than its role in incarcerating citizens in Xinjiang. Key Quote: ”The fight against COVID-19 will be remembered in history books as the trigger event that provoked the widespread global adoption of innovations and the beginning of the digital economy revolution with China at its center.” Matteo Giovannini, author of the piece. Connected: BRI investment shows China's commitment to ethnic harmony Another pro China piece from CGTV. Kazakhstan approves information exchange agreement in int'l transportation with China Belt and Road means big data and facial recognition, too Population control technology in demand in countries connecting with the BRI China rolls out the Health Silk Road China’s ‘Health Silk Road’ Gets A Boost From COVID-19

________________________________________________________ China's Shandong plans more freight trains bound for Europe, Central Asia ECNS

Tags: China Kazakhstan freight trains

East China's Shandong Province has started trains again from China to Europe, through Central Asia again despite the coronavirus lockdown. The site also claims that they hope to increase the number of trains up to 1200 in 2020 despite the pandemic. Connected: Trucks at Chinese-Kazakh border halted to prioritise rail freight Coronavirus blocks Belt and Road, cutting Q1 project value by 64% New Silk Road increases the frequency of departures ________________________________________________________

Priority, restricted sectors of foreign investment in Kazakhstan China Business Law Journal

Tags: protests china Kazakhstan land ownership A piece detailing an overview of business dealings between Kazakhstan and China, with the largest Central Asian state claimed to be China’s third-largest trading partner. It talks from a Chinese investment perspective and discusses the pros and cons of doing business there.

Key Quote: “It can be seen that foreign investment in Kazakhstan is facing both opportunities and challenges. First of all, in a larger sense, investors should be clear that Kazakhstan has positioned itself as an “important regional power with strength”, and pursues all-round pragmatic and balanced diplomacy in dealing with relations with China, Russia, Western countries and other parties, so as to avoid over-reliance on a single front.”

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