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Blickwechsel: Win-win or Win-lose? China-Kazakhstan Energy Cooperation

In his article, Komila Nabiyeva reviews the energy cooperation between China and Kazakhstan within the Belt and Road Initiative and its implications. Over the last ten years, China has become a major trade partner of Kazakhstan, investing heavily in the country’s oil and gas sector. Information about the Sino-Kazakh cooperation has been scarce, raising many questions about the economic, social and environmental risks for the Central Asian country and fuelling anti-Chinese sentiment among the local population.

In September 2013, China’s President Xi Jinping announced the launch of the country’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) during his visit to Kazakhstan. A one trillion US dollars grand plan is set to connect Asia, Africa and Europe through multiple transport corridors and infrastructure projects on land and at sea. The place for the announcement had its historical symbolism: over 2.000 years ago the first Chinese envoy was sent “to open the door to friendly contacts between China and Central Asia as well as the transcontinental Silk Road”, according to Xi Jinping. This founding myth has since become part of the official BRI narrative (Hoering, 2018, 48).

But the strategic importance of Kazakhstan goes beyond its role in the Silk Road. Located in the middle of land routes from Western China to Europe, the country often refers to itself as the ‘buckle’1 in the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB), one of the two BRI pillars. As the strongest economy in the region, it has a potential to become a major trans-Eurasian transport and logistics hub. Kazakhstan is also a close partner of Russia and member of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). At the time of the BRI announcement it was the only country in the region which could provide access for China to the EEU market.


Komila Nabiyeva is a freelance journalist and writer covering climate change and energy issues in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Previously, she worked as a communications consultant, moderator and trainer for the United Nations and other organisations. From 2014 till 2019, she coordinated the work of the Energy Watch Group, an international network of scientists and parliamentarians.

Stiftung Asienhaus
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in Schriftenreihe:
Kategorien Solidarität, Antirassismus & Diaspora | China | Publikationen | Blickwechsel | Stiftung Asienhaus | Ressourcen | Englisch | Asienhaus | BRI Nachrichtenticker | BRI - Belt and Road Initiative | Rohstoffe

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