Russia’s newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta (Independent Newspaper) recently carried a lengthy article that criticized China’s “One Belt, One Road” policy. The article stated that, the more actively China promotes the “One Belt, One Road” policy and the more money it puts in, the more local anti-China protests there are and the louder the anti-China slogans are.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a pro-government Russian daily newspaper, quoted from a Kazakhstan sociologist that, in 2007, only 18 percent of local people disliked Chinese immigrants. The figure rose to 33 percent in 2012. By 2017, as many as 46 percent of the local people hated Chinese immigrants.
The article stated that many people in Central Asian countries believe that China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative exhibits the intention to occupy Central Asia. People who hold this mentality are not only concentrated in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan where there is a strong anti-Chinese sentiment. Within a short 10 years, such an attitude has spread throughout Central Asia. It has expanded to different religions and different ethnic groups, becoming a very fashionable part of the public opinion in the region.
Anti-Chinese sentiment is also politicized. The elites in Central Asia have used anti-China sentiment as a tool and actively use it when battling for political power. In the future, political forces that oppose the ruling class will play the Chinese card to accuse the incumbents of selling out national interests. Anti-Chinese sentiment has even turned into a profitable business. Local politicians in Central Asia have learned to use this tool to make a fortune. In the near future, this “commodity” will also be sold internationally to any foreign geopolitical buyer.
The article also said that China’s implementation of the “Belt and Road” and its local business operations have destroyed the ecological environment of Central Asia and have become a hotbed for corruption. The Chinese people are very willing to hand over envelopes filled with money to local officials in order to solve problems, including tax issues.
The article quotes from analysts that China’s expansion of influence in Central Asia is seriously threatening Russia’s interests. However, it is still unclear whether the anti-China sentiment in Central Asia has links with Russia. China and Russia are fiercely competing for influence in Central Asia. China’s “One Belt, One Road” seems almost incompatible with Russia’s “Eurasian Economic Community.”
Source: Radio France Internationale, August, 6, 2018