China’s emergence and development challenges that China faces in Central Asia

Chi Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Development in Central Asia faces intensifying headwinds in various aspects. Terrorism and political instability have been the primary sources of concern for this chessboard of rivaling great powers. The US’s withdrawal from Afghanistan left a power vacuum, and the region’s future is further clouded by elevated uncertainty. The so-called ‘new Cold War’ discourse is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy that contextualizes regional geopolitical maneuverings. These developments present a pressing need to evaluate development challenges in Central Asia in the context of China’s rising influence in the region through the Belt and Road Initiative and other regional frameworks, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

This paper seeks to examine the shifting geopolitical and geoeconomic landscape in Central Asia in the context of global ideological confrontations and the regional Great Game between China and Russia. Drawing on think tank reports, English-language media reports, and scholarly works, it argues that China’s investment and development strategy in Central Asia can be improved by giving geopolitical and geoeconomic factors full consideration. The changing political dynamics in the region have significant implications for China’s engagement with Central Asian countries, its broader Belt and Road Initiative extending through Central Asia to Europe, and development challenges that transcend the dualistic categorization of development and security.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10
Number of pages16
JournalAsian Review of Political Economy
Issue number1
Early online date28 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2022


  • Central Asia
  • Sino-Russian relations
  • Terrorism
  • Belt and road initiative
  • Security cooperation


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