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NEWS

China's Unmatched Influence in Central Asia

carnegieendowment.org
18 September 2013

China has come to displace both the United States and Russia as the great power with the most influence in Central Asia. Chinese President Xi Jinping just ran a ten-day victory lap through the region. Rarely has a leader of a major power accomplished so much in such a short time. Xi's trip included state visits to four countries, an appearance at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek, and a stop in Moscow for the G20 meeting and bilateral talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The economic potential of the joint projects that were inaugurated, the bilateral and strategic partnerships that were signed, and the themes underscored in Xi's major addresses testify to China's importance in the region. By adopting policies that avoided the formal or even informal invoking of a "Great Game," China is emerging as the big winner, with successful engagement on its terms and only in issue areas relating to its direct national security. This does not mean that either Russia or the United States has been fully displaced. But Beijing's strategy of developing investment projects that both sides find genuinely beneficial, and avoiding all discussions of domestic political affairs, has made it an increasingly more attractive foreign partner.