Chinese President Xi Jinping played host to Islam Karimov, his Uzbek peer, this past week in Beijing. The meeting between the two heads of state was held in order to foment stronger ties between officials in Beijing and Tashkent alike, and culminated in the signing of substantive economic and political agreements. The two sides have already undertaken joint infrastructure projects together, though the nearly $6b allotted to future projects – ranging from transportation infrastructure and energy to industrial parks and finance – will allow for the East Asian giant to increase its footprint in Central Asia, and complete a crucial part of its New Silk Road economic belt.
Beijing also recently convened meetings between Chinese officials and leading Tajik Chamber of Commerce officials in Dushanbe, with the purpose of strengthening cooperation in the areas of energy and security. Tajikistan is preoccupied with the threat of Islamic extremism, a fear China shares, and will likely look to other regional giants for security guarantees as American influence in the region is reduced and forces are withdrawn. In addition to state-by-state relations, China has spearheaded the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional block that seeks to bring regional leaders together in order to discuss greater cooperation and joint investment in regional infrastructure projects. The latest conference will be held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and was attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
- Within Uzbekistan, an online campaign known as “Quorqmayman” or “I am not afraid” is growing in presence. The fear referenced is directed towards President Karimov and his government, and the movement has more than 5,000 Facebook likes, attracting the attention of Uzbek authorities. The campaign consists of participants taking photos of themselves holding signs that say “I am not afraid,” and the posts are then posted to social media. An Uzbek activist in Sweden, Dilya Jerkinzoda, started the campaign, to emulate the harassment that dissidents face both in real life and online.
- Kyrgyzstan will impose a hunting ban, reported the State Agency of Environment and Forestry to preserve several endangered species that would be hunted into extinction. Traditional hunting season in Kyrgyzstan opens on August 23, but local residents are suspended from holding sporting events and amateur hunting of all types. Daily hunting licenses are given more legal credences, but only three heads per hunter are prohibited. Illegal hunting of endangered species like argali mountain sheep carries a fine of 400,000 soms.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she is not hopeful for the prospects on Ukraine-Russia talks, currently taking place today. Speaking only a day after meeting with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in Kiev. “My trip to Kiev was also aimed at preparing such a meeting which certainly won’t bring about a breakthrough, just to damp expectations.” She has reiterated the EU’s constant position that a face-saving solution is necessary for Russia, and that a diplomatic solution will be impossible without one.
- Russian diplomats are complaining that they are being excluded from an upcoming summit of NATO countries, according to the Moscow Times. The summit, due to be held on September 4-5, is to be focused on terrorism and cybercrime, but a large topic of discussion on the agenda is the conflict in Ukraine as well as relations with Russia. Themes to be discussed at the summit include “the readiness of the alliance to enforce collective defense,” and “relations with Russia and stronger ties with Ukraine.”