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Commentary: China is increasing its influence in Central Asia as part of global plans to offer an alternative to the West

Commentary: China is increasing its influence in Central Asia as part of global plans to offer an alternative to the West


Countries at the summit recommitted to a China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway, highways between China and Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and transport infrastructure for Trans-Caspian trade routes using seaports in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

This focus on transport infrastructure in and especially across Central Asia underscores the importance of the region to China’s attempts to diversify its trade routes to Europe away from Russia.

It also means that China, for now, will continue to use infrastructure development and trade to recruit more partners for its alternative international order.

Russia’s Northern Corridor is now largely closed due to war-related sanctions against Ukraine. Thus, the road often referred to as the intermediate corridor has regained importance not only for China but also, and this is crucial, for the G7 countries.

However, the Middle Corridor, which begins in Turkey and continues through Georgia and through Central Asia, would be risky for China as the only alternative. Its capacity is low (currently only about 5% of the Northern Corridor) because goods have to cross multiple borders and pass several times between road, rail and sea.


Another alternative – with similar geopolitical significance – is transport through Afghanistan to the Arabian Sea via the Pakistani port of Gwadar. In the long term, a trans-Afghan route is in the interests of both China and Central Asia.

This would contribute to (but also depend on) stability and security in Afghanistan. And it would reduce China’s exposure to risks associated with the existing route along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, especially those stemming from the ongoing Taliban insurgency in Pakistan.




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