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Chinese Institutional Diplomacy toward Kazakhstan: The SCO and the New Silk Road Initiative

Today the established cooperation between China and Kazakhstan has reached the strategic partnership level. Also, the two neighboring countries are partners in the international large-scale projects as the SCO and the New Silk Road Initiative. This paper claims that these projects are mostly lead by China. Moreover, it is argued that the SCO is aimed to solve the security issues and the New Silk Road Initiative embodies the economic agenda of the bilateral relations. Kazakhstan’s role and position is significant due to different reasons, while the Kazakhstani public remains cautious about the Chinese activity in Kazakhstan. The two named mechanisms are eventually focused on economical and cultural leadership of China among the secured multilateral cooperation in the continent.

Chinese Institutional Diplomacy toward Kazakhstan The SCO and the New
Kazakh President Nazarbayev (L) and Chinese President Jinping (R) meet during the 18th annual summit of SCO in China on June 10, 2018

Introduction

In more than thirty years of reform and implementation of open economy policies, great changes have taken place in China. With the country’s high engagement with the world, it became obvious that China did not isolate itself from the global developments. The rapid growth of China’s economy and the country’s growing ties with the rest of the world necessitate the development of new concepts and approaches in the Chinese diplomacy. On January 3, 1992, the Republic of Kazakhstan set diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The two countries share a border of 1,700 km and their relationship has developed rapidly since 1997, in connection with the growing of the economic ties. According to the Treaty on Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation signed on December 23, 2002, the states develop the long-term peaceful and beneficial “win-win” cooperation. Most of the routes from China to Europe pass through Kazakhstan’s broad territory, located strategically on the crossroads between Europe and Asia. As China is expanding its economic outreach to Europe, Kazakhstan wants to benefit beyond transit fees as it is trying to break away from oil dependence.

This paper is organized in five different parts. First, it discusses current concepts and approaches of the Chinese diplomacy within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and New Silk Road Economic Belt (NSREB). The second part covers China’s policy on strengthening the stability and security at the neighboring Central Asian region through the SCO. Later it discusses the attempts of economic and humanitarian cooperation within the SCO and newly introduced economic projects within the NSREB as another away for substantive regional integration. The last two sections focus on the cultural dimension of China’s New Silk Road Initiative and its implementation in Kazakhstan, and analyze public perception of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Kazakhstan according to the survey and Kazakhstani mass media.

 

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