There have now been two anti-Chinese protests in Kyrgyzstan in January. Compare that to April and May of 2016, when Kazakhstan’s biggest protests in some 20 years started after rumors spread that proposed land-privatization laws would allow Chinese citizens an opportunity to purchase land in Kazakhstan. Adding to the regional tension is Beijing’s current crackdown on Muslims in the western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which has seen, by some accounts, 1 million people -- ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz among them -- sent to political reeducation camps.
But the situation is complicated by China being a major investor in Central Asia. And some Central Asian states have accepted huge Chinese loans that they are struggling to repay.
In the latest Majlis, RFE/RL's Media-Relations Manager Muhammad Tahir moderated a discussion on growing anti-Chinese sentiment in Central Asia.
The participants were: Assel Bitabarova, who is originally from Kazakhstan but is currently a Ph.D. student at Hokkaido University studying Sino-Central Asian engagement; from Bishkek, Ryskeldi Satke, a freelance journalist who has written extensively on Central Asia, including the evolution of Chinese influence.
I’ve been watching the steady advance of Chinese influence into Central Asia for many years, so I also participated in the discussion.
Listen to the podcast above or subscribe to the Majlis on iTunes.