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China's security interests in Central Asia

Ong, Russell (2005) China's security interests in Central Asia. Central Asian Survey, 24 (4). pp. 425-439. ISSN 0263-4937

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Abstract

China shares similar interests with Russia in Central Asia: ensuring political stability, control of radical Islam (particularly on the Chinese border), access to Central Asian hydrocarbons, strengthened economic ties with the region, and ensuring minimal U.S. influence. China is a rising power in Central Asia. Its policy is methodical and focused and has shown gradual, consistent advances. Based on this assessment, China and Russia are going be long-term rivals for control of energy resources and business affairs of the region. As a result, the Central Asian states will eventually have to choose sides in this likely rivalry, or else maintain a precarious political balance. This raises questions regarding the future of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), presently a subject of numerous commentaries and speculations. Meppen emphasized that the SCO remains an organization in search of a mission. It appears to be ready to do many things, but has not produced any tangible outcomes. The SCO does have some value as a discussion forum for the region's powers. However, it seems questionable that the SCO would be able to effectively serve both Russia's and China's interests simultaneously in the future. Rather, it already appears that Russia is using the SCO as a tool to monitor China's advances in Central Asia.