The fate of a large army of labor migrants from China has become the subject of political bargaining and dispute in Kyrgyzstan. The fact is that, following Russia, the government of Kyrgyzstan adopted a decree according to which, from April 1, 2007, a strict quota should be introduced for foreign workers engaged in wholesale and retail trading activities in Kyrgyzstan. Basically, this decree has affected Chinese citizens working in the country. According to the Chinese Embassy, there are about five to six thousand in Kyrgyzstan. According to others, there are ten times more of them.
But, at the very last moment it was decided to postpone the resolution of this problem until January 1, 2008. The Kyrgyz government, frankly, "was afraid" of the reaction of China. It was not clear how the PRC government would respond to such a decision.
According to the calculations of the authorities, in deciding to restrict the trade activities of foreign workers in the country, they intended to free up these same places for Kyrgyz citizens who could return from Russia after they accepted restrictions for foreign workers. And then, the unequal working conditions of local traders and traders from China caused various complaints and censures, including clashes and conflicts. Especially they intensified after the "tulip revolution". At the largest Karasu market, there have been several cases of serious clashes with the Chinese working there. The head of the State Committee for Employment and Migration, Aigul Ryskulova, admitted in an interview that this decision was partly made on complaints and statements from Kyrgyz citizens who carry out retail and wholesale trade in the numerous clothing markets in the country. According to the State Committee on Employment and Migration, such a decree was supposed to protect the rights of citizens of Kyrgyzstan, giving them priority.
Admittedly, this decision met with mixed reactions in society. Kadir, a trader in the Karasu Bazaar: “I welcome the decision of our government to limit the number of foreign workers working in the bazaars. I have been working here for more than four years. Now over four thousand Chinese merchants work in our market. And every year their number is growing. If one Chinese man comes, then in a year he brings three more of his relatives. Where does it go? ” There are opponents of this decree in the country. Thus, according to the calculations of the public organization Akyl-Es, the adoption of this decision can seriously affect the economic situation in the country. According to them, in the central wholesale market “Dordoi” in the north of the country and the Karasuu wholesale market in the south, as a result of re-export in Kyrgyzstan, over $ 300 million remained. The total amount of goods sold and bought in these markets was $ 1 billion. for merchants in Kyrgyzstan, this can seriously cut one of the largest cash flows to the country's state treasury.
According to the Department of Internal Affairs in the Osh region, more than four thousand Chinese citizens work on the Karasuy bazaar without any documents authorizing trading activities. Only 1500 Chinese have a license. For foreign workers, the country's government has established a quota of five thousand jobs, but only three thousand of them are used so far. The rest work illegally. According to the government, annually eight thousand foreign workers enter the country, who then disappear without a trace, almost becoming illegal.
The most bazaar days at the Karasuu Bazaar are Tuesday and Saturday, when at the same time up to fifty thousand wholesalers from abroad arrive at the market and large wholesale trade takes place. Here is what the police officer at the Karasuy bazaar, Aybek Keneshov, says: “The Chinese merchants settled here well. I believe that, by law, they must bring the goods to be sold to our merchants. But, they themselves bring and sell themselves, hiring for this their people. If they make any comments on the service, they immediately threaten to call their friends on the mobile phone and figure it out. ”
The Osh-Karasu route is served daily by 60 minibuses, which make up to several flights a day and hundreds of private taxis. The fare is from 25-35 cents. The driver of a minibus plying this route to Inom Khayrullaev: “90% of people go to Karasuu from Osh to trade or buy goods in the Chinese market. There prices are cheaper in two or three times than in Osh. Everywhere some Chinese. If everything goes at such a pace, very soon Karasu district will turn into a Chinese city. ” Creeping "chinaization" is one of the strongest fears of the local population over labor migration from China.
Migrants from China have not only their own merchants, but also their own security agency, called Shat and Co. It protects the rights of Chinese citizens in the Karasu market. The association of Chinese merchants also operates in Kyrgyzstan, which also protect their rights. This is what Nartulov Rakhimbekov, the security guard of the Shat and Co. agency, says: “Let's be honest, many Chinese people live at the expense of Chinese traders. If necessary, there are rich, on this. For example, one Chinese feeds three locals. This is a merchant, a loader and a wheelbarrow. Such are the cases. In addition, their local police got it. They make their lunch buy or take something from the goods. Just now, a policeman entered the Chinese canteen and took five hundred soms from them ($ 15). In the evening, Chinese workers without protection is impossible. They can easily undress. "
Almost all Chinese traders refused to be interviewed, only one of them, on condition of anonymity, agreed to comment on the situation. “The fact that we work here does not do any harm to Kyrgyzstan, only benefit. We work on patents, regularly pay taxes. We have affordable products for citizens of Kyrgyzstan. In my opinion, your government simply copies Russia. If we leave, then the Kara-Suu bazaar will close. Who will benefit from it? ”Says a merchant from China.
The head of the Osh regional branch of the State Committee on Employment and Migration, Akat Momunov, believes that resolving the problem of foreign traders in Kyrgyzstan will depend on what economic benefits a country can get from their presence or hard quotas. One of the possible ways out of this situation, the government proposes to increase the payment of a patent for doing business to $ 2,600.
The official position of the Chinese side was voiced by Liu Chuan, the adviser on trade and economic issues of the Chinese Embassy in Kyrgyzstan, in an interview with the Tazar web portal: “I think that when adopting this law, the state should take into account all the pros and cons. It is necessary to figure out how this law will affect the interests of the state itself, the development of its economy, the stability of the sources of trade, and most importantly, is this law acceptable to ordinary people. ”
An interesting fact is that the citizens of Kyrgyzstan for whom the government seemed to be going to free the markets from foreign traders and are not going to return to the country. It should be noted that according to various estimates, there are between 600 thousand and 1 million labor migrants from Kyrgyzstan in Russia. About 80% of them work illegally. True, Aigul Ryskulova claims that, according to the diaspora, the Kyrgyz in Russia are only 250 thousand. All of them apply for either Russian citizenship or long-term labor registration without thinking of returning.