China Bolsters Presence in Tajikistan, Pledges $6b in Investment

Chinese investment in Tajikistan over the next three years will be equivalent to nearly two thirds of the Central Asian nation’s total GDP in 2013. Chinese presence in Central Asia has grown in stride with China’s own economic growth, though ties with Tajikistan in particular have strengthened as Beijing sees an opportunity to capitalize on waning Russian influence in what used to be a Soviet republic. The Russian ruble has been dropping precipitously as the economy reels from the impact of sanctions and sinking oil prices, the side effects of which will be great in countries like Tajikistan where a significant portion of the economy is made up of remittances from Tajiks working throughout Russia.

The Chinese have pledged to assist in developing the country, and have pledged an additional six billion in development funds over the next three years. Chinese state-owned companies have already invested serious funds into developing roads that connect the Chinese region of Xinjiang with Dushanbe, and are leading investment efforts into three distinct hydroelectric dams within Tajikistan. Tajikistan’s finance minister stated that the country is aware that they may become overly reliant on China, though the fact that remittances are down by nearly a fifth and could drop off even further leaves Dushanbe little remedy other than to use Chinese investments to cushion the blow. Tajikistan is also a strategically important nation for China’s energy relations. A pipeline connecting gas-rich Turkmenistan with China will traverse 400 kilometers of Tajik territory before arriving in western China. Tajiks are destined to profit from this venture as well via transit fees and other tariffs levied by the Tajik government.

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News Briefs: 

  • Maksim Bakiev, son of the former Kyrgyz Preisdent Kurmanbek Bakiev, was sentenced to life in prison in abstentia for embezzling millions of dollars in state funds, reported the Kyrgyz Supreme Court. Bakiev, who is living in Britain, was sentenced for being found guilty of diverting state funds from the Asia Universal Bank (AUB) for diverting some $40 million from the country’s social fund, or 2 billion soms.
  • Reports that foreign nationals of Central Asia joining ISIS as jihadists is troubling to media and government groups. Tajikistan in particular has several expatriates currently in Raqqa, Iraq (with one in particular calling himself the emir of the province). Tajikistan’s Supreme Court sentence three Tajik students to prison terms after they were found guilty of association with ISIs in Syria. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are concerned that extremist groups such as the IMU will gain followers because of their association with ISIS.
  • Afghanistan’s newly inaugurated President Ashraf Ghani’s first trip out of country will be to visit his Chinese counterpart in Beijing, confirmed the Chinese foreign ministry. China has actively sought out a larger role in China, though its plans are strictly economic and there are no current plans to supplant US military influence in the country. China is concerned that separatist forces in China’s Xinjiang Province will find refuge in Afghanistan should the country deteriorate following the withdrawal of coalition forces.
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