BRI won't cause conflicts between China and Russia in Central Asia

By Xie Wenting and Bai Yunyi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/26 16:03:40

Rashid Alimov. Photo: Courtesy of Taihe Institute

China and Russia don't "compete" in Central Asia, and the two countries complement each other to bring the region prosperity, Rashid Alimov, former Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) secretary general, told the Global Times.

Both countries cooperate to maintain the security and stability in the region and make efforts to fight against terrorism and extremism as well as drug trafficking, said Alimov, Doctor of Political Science and a senior fellow with Chinese think tank Taihe Institute. 

Alimov dismissed the concern that China's presence in Central Asia with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may lead to conflicts with Russia, stressing that the two countries cooperate both on a bilateral and a multilateral basis. 

"China and Russia are equally important and strategic partners for Central Asian countries," he said. 

Despite widespread support for the BRI, some Western countries, including the US still harbor different sentiments and skepticism about the initiative. 

Alimov told the Global Times that these countries don't make assessments objectively toward the BRI and the cooperation under the BRI is actually in the interests of all parties. 

"Another thing is obvious: China will not force anyone to join the BRI. This is the sovereign right of every country," he said. 

He added that for any initiative, it won't only have supporters, but also critics. 

India is the only SCO country that hasn't been directly involved in the BRI, as it claimed the BRI could harm its sovereignty.

Alimov didn't respond directly to the question on what China can do to disperse excessive concerns over the BRI from India, who joined the SCO in 2017. 

But he noted to the Global Times that the BRI is open in nature and is not accompanied by any pressure or coercion. "Practical results are already visible. They are felt by participating countries along the Belt and Road," he said.

Mr. Alimov also dismissed the "debt trap" accusations from some countries. He mentioned that banks including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), EXIM Bank and China Development Bank select BRI projects for financing very carefully and conduct a thorough examination beforehand. 

 "For this reason, it will be difficult for the loan recipients to get into the 'debt trap,'" he said.

As the Belt and Road passes through some countries and regions that are haunted by terrorism, joint efforts to counter terrorism are deemed important. 

Alimov said that China has made a great contribution to countering terrorism and extremism, and is actively cooperating with international and regional organizations, including the UN and SCO.

Founded in 2001, the SCO was initially established to fight terrorism, separatism and extremism.

"China provides a variety of support to those countries that have become targets of terrorist attacks. It shares its own experience, provides equipment and grants for the training of professional personnel," he said, adding that only by combining international efforts can terrorism be fully eradicated.

Newspaper headline: China and Russia bring prosperity to Central Asia


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