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Majlis Podcast: The Coronavirus Effect On Central Asia’s Relations With China

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov leave after a joint news conference on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Bishkek in June 2019.

For the last 20 years or so, the countries of Central Asia have continually boosted their ties with China. Or, put differently, China has increased its economic and other influence in Central Asia.

Roads, railways, and pipelines have been built connecting Central Asia to China.

The Chinese government and Chinese financial institutions have loaned billions of dollars to the Central Asian states and invested billions more in projects in Central Asia that the governments of the five countries would not have been able to fund anywhere else.

But the coronavirus has caused a reduction of production and trade globally, and China -- where the virus was originally found -- has been hit hard economically.

Restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus are easing, but there are reasons to believe that when the crisis finally passes, China will not be the same partner to the Central Asian states that it has been for the last two decades -- and some of that has to do with the changing attitudes of Central Asia’s people toward its giant eastern neighbor.

On this week's Majlis podcast, RFE/RL's media-relations manager for South and Central Asia, Muhammad Tahir, moderates a discussion that looks at how the coronavirus has changed, and may continue to change, Chinese-Central Asian relations.

This week’s guests are, from the University of London, Gul Berna Ozcan, a reader in international business and entrepreneurship at Royal Holloway, University of London, and author of books such as Building States And Markets: Enterprise Development In Central Asia and Diverging Paths Of Development In Central Asia; from Australia, Dirk van der Kley, program director for policy research at the Sydney-based China Matters who recently finished his PhD on Chinese economic statecraft in Central Asia; and Bruce Pannier, the author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.

Majlis Podcast: The Coronavirus Effect On Central Asia’s Relations With China
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Listen to the podcast above or subscribe to the Majlis on iTunes or on Google Podcasts.

About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change.​

The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.


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