Why Is Anti-Chinese Sentiment on the Rise in Central Asia?

Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed by the Kyrgyzstan’s President Sooronbai Jeenbekov  in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Thursday, June 13, 2019.

By Aruuke Uran Kyzy
October 08, 2019

On October 1, thousands of Chinese diaspora scattered across Central Asia and beyond celebrated their National Day with flag-raising ceremonies and parades. In China, these celebrations included a large military parade, showcasing new weapons and the country’s latest technology. But beyond China’s borders, amid these choreographed projections of national unity, the festival atmosphere has been disrupted by re-emerging, widespread anti-Chinese sentiment among the Central Asians. 

Amid Chinas’ reorganization of the social fabric of the region, its growing presence and influence have been previously described as defensive, Beijing’s growing clout and economic developments for the last two decades have given it considerable leverage over the regional order and national narratives.

Chinese interests and activities in Central Asia have been part of a carefully crafted plan. Initially, Beijing sought to demilitarize the borders, which was followed by a crackdown on the Uyghur community, the creation of a collective security framework through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the building of infrastructure and communications systems in the region, and finally an influx of soft power. 

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