China is one of the three world powers that have a serious impact on the development of the countries of Central Asia. And if Russia is a traditional partner for the new independent states of the region, then the beginning of the modern history of relations between the countries of the region with China, as well as the USA, goes into the last 2-3 years of the “Gorbachev” restructuring. After independence, these relations rose to a qualitatively new level. The only peculiarity is that, for China, the establishment of relations with Central Asian countries is, nevertheless, the restoration of long-standing centuries-old political relations, before conquest of the region by Tsarist Russia in the second half of the XIX century.
Central Asian countries and China are equally interested in the development of bilateral relations. China, for the time being, is viewed by the countries of Central Asia as a world power, able to counterbalance the influence of the other two world powers, and, if necessary, dampen possible political pressure from their side. China has already confirmed that it can be a reliable ally of these countries. After the events in Andijan, the government of Uzbekistan was subjected to strong political pressure from the United States, demanding an immediate international investigation of the tragedy. Beijing unequivocally supported the tough stance of the leadership of Uzbekistan regarding these events.
Beijing is also viewed by the Central Asian countries as a reliable ally in the fight against those domestic or regional forces, regardless of whether they adhere to Islamic, liberal-democratic or any other views that can be considered not only by the leadership of these countries, but also by Chinese as destructive.
Finally, China is viewed by the countries of the region as a source of investment in the real economy, which is especially important for countries such as Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan that do not have hydrocarbon reserves that are so attractive to Western countries. At the same time, Chinese investments in Kazakhstan, especially in the oil and gas sector, will help to diversify sources of foreign investment. In turn, this circumstance will allow to balance the western presence in this sector of the national economy and prevent its use as an instrument of political pressure on the country's leadership.
As for China, in the last years of the existence of the USSR and in the initial period of independence of the countries of Central Asia, the latter were for him a new market for their goods. At the same time, this circumstance allowed him to give impetus to the development of the western regions.
Subsequently, taking advantage of the benevolent attitude of the Central Asian countries, China began to purposefully expand and strengthen its economic presence, and then its influence in the region. It was necessary for him to solve such a purely political task as the settlement of territorial and border disputes inherited from previous times. These problems were solved within the framework of the Shanghai Five mechanism.
Subsequently, issues of economic security were becoming increasingly important for China. The growing Chinese economy needs markets for its products, new and reliable sources of raw materials (nonferrous metals, etc.) and energy (oil, gas, electricity) resources that Central Asian countries have. And there is nothing surprising in the fact that China is showing an increased interest both in promoting its goods and services in Central Asian markets, and in exploring the possibilities for developing and implementing projects for importing raw materials and energy resources from the region. Tajikistan, in particular, may be of interest to China both as a sales market for its products and as a source of necessary raw materials (aluminum, mining products, possibly cotton) and energy resources (hydropower). The functioning of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which was transformed into one of the “Shanghai Five” on June 15, 2001, contributes to the solution of these tasks. in shanghai. The government of the PRC has sharply strengthened recently the organization of various kinds of training seminars and trainings for employees of various ministries of the SCO member states in China. The participants of these seminars are introduced to the Chinese experience in creating free economic zones, attracting foreign investment, procedures for attracting Chinese investment, creating and operating technology parks, etc.
After September 11, 2001, when the US military presence in Central Asia became a reality, in fact, in close proximity to its western borders, the problem of ensuring military-political security became urgent for China. Beijing was forced to step up its political and military relations with the countries of the region, both on the basis of bilateral relations and within the framework of the SCO. Such cooperation with Tajikistan has already been established - these are deliveries of military uniforms, communications equipment, etc. to Tajikistan.
China is interested in strengthening its diverse presence and influence in Central Asia, in maintaining normal relations with the countries of the region and ensuring their at least neutral attitude to the topical and painful problem of “separatism” of the western regions. First of all, to the Uygur problem, which is based on the Uigurs' desire for self-determination. The Uigurs live in almost all countries of the region, so China cannot allow the support of the Uyghur movement to Central Asian countries. China seeks to solve all these and many other tasks through the development of bilateral relations and through the revitalization of the SCO.
The public in Central Asian countries is ambiguous about the development of relations with China. So, she is very much worried about the increasingly obvious dependence of the social stability of these countries on the nature of relations with a large eastern neighbor. Until now, the level of poverty in the states of the region remains quite high. In Tajikistan, for example, today 64% of the population of the republic are within or below the poverty line. One of the most important sources of livelihood for poor people in Central Asian countries is cheap Chinese goods. They simply do not have the opportunity to buy more expensive, and, consequently, better products. The existence of many thousands, if not tens of thousands of traders plying between their states and China, and maybe hundreds of thousands of people involved in selling them to all corners of Central Asia, depends on the ability to engage in trade with China. It is noticed that when China, due to some circumstances, closes its borders for several days and when, accordingly, trade flows slow down, changes in exchange rates occur immediately.
Such a high level of dependence of social and economic stability in Central Asian countries on maintaining normal relations with China makes their positions in relations with their eastern neighbor quite vulnerable. That is why, developing bilateral relations with China and being together with him in the SCO, they leave the door open for economic, political and military cooperation with Russia, the USA, the countries of Western Europe, the Middle and Near East.