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Moscow Worried About Beijing’s ‘Sinicization’ of Central Asia, Caucasus

striver44

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Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 17 Issue: 159
By: Paul Goble

November 10, 2020 05:08 PM Age: 2 weeks


At the 2013 SCO Summit in Bishkek, (L-R) Uzbekistan's President Karimov, Kazakhstan's President Nazarbayev, China's President Xi, Kyrgyzstan's President Atambayev, Russia's President Putin, Tajikistan's President Rahmon (Source; Rfa.org)


Moscow is increasingly worried about something it has not yet figured out how best to counter: Beijing’s use of soft power to promote the “sinicization” of cultures in the countries of Central Asia and the South Caucasus. This process, if successful, could lead those states to become part of a Chinese sphere of influence—and accomplish that far more fundamentally and permanently than even Beijing’s push for east-west trade routes through these regions or its involvement with local security structures. Those charges of sinicization efforts in middle Eurasia, in fact, appear to reflect an even deeper concern that Beijing may be able to use similar tactics to expand its influence into the Russian Federation east of the Urals as well as countries in Africa, Europe and the Americas, far from China’s borders.

Over the last decade, the Russian government has looked on China’s economic and military advances into Central Asia with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it welcomes these Chinese moves to counter the West given Russia’s weakness. And Moscow has remained convinced that Beijing’s repressive policies in Xinjiang against Muslim minorities will prevent these countries from making any sharp turn away from Moscow toward Beijing (see EDM, April 4, 2019 and April 23, 2020; see China Brief, August 12, October 19). But on the other hand, in the last year, Moscow has grown concerned that its assumptions may not be accurate and that China will be able to use its soft power to change the cultural map of Central Asian and the Caucasus and even export its influence via such soft power strategies into Russia’s own Siberia and Far East (see Jamestown.org, August 7).

As a result, voices have begun to be raised in Moscow that China’s moves in post-Soviet Eurasia are becoming a threat to Russia. They argue Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” (the Belt and Road Initiative—BRI) program must be countered culturally as well as economically and in the security area. And they believe the Russian side should play up what China is doing in Xinjiang in its messages to Central Asia in particular but in the Caucasus as well. Failing to do so could permit Beijing’s soft power to pry these countries out of what Moscow considers their proper Russian orbit, these observers warn (Carnegie.ru, March 25; Stoletie.ru, October 14).

Just how serious the Kremlin is taking this issue today is suggested by the work of Vita Slivak, a specialist on China at the Moscow State University’s Information-Analytic Center. Under a presidential grant, Slivak is researching “The Levers of Chinese Influence: ‘Sinification’ in Central Asia and Russia.” Most of her analysis appears to be going directly to policymakers; but she has now discussed some of her insights in two recent interviews (Casp-geo.ru, October 28; Ia-centr.ru, November 3).

Slivak noted that “ ‘sinicization’ is [an English-language] term that has begun to be used to describe Chinese influence on the politics of other countries.” It goes beyond activities like expanding trade and trade routes or cooperation in security affairs; namely, it also seeks to promote among local national cultures the idea of the centrality, if not the superiority, of Chinese culture. Furthermore, it encourages people in these countries to look to China as a global center rather than to Russia or the West, as many of them have done in the past. Beijing has made it clear that it plans to use soft power initiatives like cultural and educational exchanges and information programs everywhere it has interests. But naturally, “for the neighbors of the People’s Republic of China, as for example, for Russia and the countries of Central Asia, the strengthening of such Chinese positions is felt most sharply” (Casp-geo.ru, October 28; Ia-centr.ru, November 3).

Since 2013, the Moscow analyst explained, China has grouped these sinicization initiatives under its “One Belt, One Road” program. And the scope of its plans for such cultural change is indicated by the fact that it is already operating these programs in “more than 60 countries,” only a small number of which border China or lie along the east-west trans-Eurasian routes Beijing’s leaders say they are focusing on. That suggests, Slivak continues, that what the Chinese are doing in Central Asia and the Caucasus at present is what they are beginning to do or hope to do elsewhere in the future. Namely, that implies BRI is about far more than many have assumed. It is, indeed, a worldwide project, Slivak asserted. And it is specifically designed to realize China’s ambitions to replace all others as the paramount global power, both in particular regions such as Central Asia and the Caucasus as well as in the world as a whole. In the first case, it would displace Russia; in the second, the United States and the European Union.

Europeans are starting to recognize the nature of this danger and have shut down some of China’s Confucius Institutes on the continent, viewing them as propaganda mouthpieces for the Chinese Communist Party. As Slivak points out, Europe and the US have launched economic retaliation and trade wars against China. And most importantly, they have raised issues like Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet to undercut Beijing’s ability to present itself as a model others should follow. Slivak did not explicitly say so, but her message is obvious: Moscow should also push for the closure of such Chinese institutions in the former Soviet republics and limit their cultural and educational exchanges with China, and it should do the same thing in the Russian Federation as well. If it does not, the Moscow-based analyst implied, Russia may discover that, whatever its successes in countering China economically or militarily in the short term, it will find its former allies and even much of its own country “sinified” in ways that will undermine what it has achieved.

That such research in Russia is currently being supported by the Kremlin shows that at least some in the top Russian leadership are anything but happy about China’s Eurasian initiatives and want to limit the expansion of its cultural influence in the region. Whether those who hold such views will win out, of course, remains to be seen; but it suggests Moscow now recognizes that culture, more than trade or military actions, may matter increasingly in the future.
 

Uguduwa

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Soon even Siberia wil Sinicize. Russia is a fake artificially inflated colonial power from the 19th century that should be put in its place eventually.
 

Beast

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Jamestown's? American website? Another stupid propanganda from american trying to destroy China and Russia r/s.

Bound to fail. :enjoy:

Russian are more worry of Turkey spreading their islamic revolution and Pan islamic revolution in central Asia than China CPEC.
 

Uguduwa

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I don't know why you guys love Russia so much. It's a hollow country that still runs on the glory of USSR days. Russia is the biggest backstabber the world has ever known. It even occupies former Chinese territories. The name "Vladivostok" literally means conqueror of the east.
 

shi12jun

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I don't know why you guys love Russia so much. It's a hollow country that still runs on the glory of USSR days. Russia is the biggest backstabber the world has ever known. It even occupies former Chinese territories. The name "Vladivostok" literally means conqueror of the east.
Because China and Russia are comprehensive strategic partners, it can also be said that they are now equivalent to an alliance.
 

shi12jun

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I think only for the time being. It's only a matter of time when Russia turns against China.
Your question is just a hypothesis. Besides, the border between China and Russia has been delimited. China's economic and military population is where the strength is placed, and it is not afraid of opposition from any country.
 

Uguduwa

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When? When US is defeated and reduce to third rate country? :enjoy:
That's a possibility. Another possibility is Russia gets a nod of approval from the west and it will go behind the west with its tail wagging. You're talking about a country that begged to be a part of NATO. It's only like this because it kept being turned down by the west. It still describes itself as a "European" country and you will know that white supremacism runs deep in Russians if you get to know them.
 

Beast

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That's a possibility. Another possibility is Russia gets a nod of approval from the west and it will go behind the west with its tail wagging. You're talking about a country that begged to be a part of NATO. It's only like this because it kept being turned down by the west. It still describes itself as a "European" country and you will know that white supremacism runs deep in Russians if you get to know them.
Lol. Russia is interested to join EU but no NATO. As long as NATO exist, its an outdated organisation aim at Russia. Without China USD 400 billion oil deal. Russia will have collapsed long ago.
 

Uguduwa

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Your question is just a hypothesis. Besides, the border between China and Russia has been delimited. China's economic and military population is where the strength is placed, and it is not afraid of opposition from any country.
Russia has a deep distrust of China especially now since Chinese influence is expanding into traditional Russian sphere of influence - Central Asia.
Lol. Russia is interested to join EU but no NATO. As long as NATO exist, its an outdated organisation aim at Russia. Without China USD 400 billion oil deal. Russia will have collapsed long ago.

In 1991 Boris Yeltsin, the first president of the new Russian state, wrote to NATO, reiterating Gorbachev’s proposal. He echoed calls made by former Warsaw Pact countries like Hungary to join the Western alliance, and called NATO membership a “long-term political aim” of Russia.

............



In 1994, Russia officially signed up to the NATO Partnership for Peace, a program aimed at building trust between NATO and other European and former Soviet countries. President Bill Clinton described it in January 1994 as a “track that will lead to NATO membership.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin told filmmaker Oliver Stone in a 2017 interview that he discussed the option with Clinton during the American president’s visit to Moscow in 2000. And when then-Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with Putin in the early 2000s, he says he got the impression Russia was pro-Western and open to joining the transatlantic alliance.


You don't seem to know so much about Russia.
 

shi12jun

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Russia has a deep distrust of China especially now since Chinese influence is expanding into traditional Russian sphere of influence - Central Asia.







You don't seem to know so much about Russia.
Trust is only relative, and no country fully trusts each other. As long as the high-level China and Russia cooperate with each other. Because there are no permanent friends in this world, only permanent interests. China and Russia have the interests that each other needs.
 

Viva_Viet

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Without China USD 400 billion oil deal. Russia will have collapsed long ago.
Lie. 90% CN oil imported from Middle east must pass through Malacca and SCS ( east VN sea). If US block Malacca, then CN economy will collapse much faster Russia.

Thats why CN badly need an oil deal wt Russia to avoid being block in Malacca or SCS ( east Vn sea)
 

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