What is the genuine purpose behind the ‘color revolution’ instigated by US-led West in Kazakhstan?
Published: Jun 29, 2022 08:36 PM
A view of Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan Photo: VCG

A view of Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan Photo: VCG

Editor's Note:
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI), aiming at boosting "five connectivities," including infrastructure connectivity that paves way for increased trade and investment, resources flow and regional economic integration. Central Asia has been a vital component of the initiative, with the region being an important logistics channel for China-Europe freight train routes. The Global Times (GT) spoke with Bulat Sultanov (Sultanov), former director of Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and director of the Institute of International and Regional Cooperation of the Kazakh-German University, who shared his views on how the BRI facilitates Central Asia's connectivity and prosperity. He also unmasked the genuine purpose of US-instigated "color revolution" in Kazakhstan and Belarus.

This is the second in a series scoping the views of foreign experts on the remarkable contribution made by the BRI and China - the world's second-largest economy - to global development over the past 10 years.

GT: What do you think about "color revolution" happened in Kazakhstan and Belarus recently? 
Sultanov: US President Joe Biden said immediately after taking office that global challenges in the new era - varying from the COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis to nuclear proliferation - can be overcome by countering the claimed "growing ambitions" of China to rival the US and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt democracy.

So, in our view, the US and the collective West will seek to thwart Beijing's good relationship with Moscow. The White House is trying to create a separation barrier between Russia and China in Central Asia. The White House will also try to block China from entering EU markets and disrupt the conjunction of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB), a significant part of which passes through the territory of Kazakhstan.

To fulfill its purposes, the US has taken these actions: One, it attempted to destabilize the situation in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, smear China's national policy, distort the actual socio-economic condition of the Uygur population in the region; Two, it organized a "color revolution" before and after the presidential elections in 2020 in Belarus, a country that has become a sort of bridgehead of China's BRI route to Europe; Three, it organized riots and an attempted coup in Kazakhstan in January.

GT: What's your take on Western smearing against Chinese investment in Kazakhstan?
: Increased rivalry of the US and other Western countries against China has definitely affected the information sphere. In particular, the media of the US and other Western countries, along with pro-Western experts and bloggers in Kazakhstan and Central Asian countries, are trying to convince Kazakhs of the claimed threat of China's economic and financial expansion.

China is not the largest creditor of Kazakhstan and other regional countries. The EU makes up more than half of the $330 billion foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan from 1991 to 2019, and China constitutes only about 5 percent - $16.5 billion. In comparison, the Netherlands accounts for $90.4 billion, the US around $48.4 billion, and Switzerland $25.8 billion.

Against the background of growing irritation and dissatisfaction of some people due to the country's complicated socio-economic and socio-political situation, these sentiments could be provoked by pro-Western bloggers and destructive forces to achieve their goals. We need to watch out for this impact, and Kazakhs should not fall into the trap of Sinophobia and anti-Chinese sentiments created by the West again and again.

GT: How could China and Kazakhstan strengthen transport and logistics cooperation?
Sultanov: As a country without any access to maritime trade routes, Kazakhstan is particularly interested in the EAEU integration project and the BRI mega-project because they open up access to maritime transportation and therefore, to European and Asian markets. As a result, they can create favorable conditions for sustainable economic growth and social development in Kazakhstan. 

Kazakhstan also opens a kind of "golden wicket gate" for connectivity under the China-proposed BRI and in particular, the China-Europe freight train. Now, 49 percent of freight train trips between China and Europe go across Kazakhstan. While it takes about 40 days to transport goods from China to Germany by sea, it takes 16-18 days by railway through Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has succeeded in joining Europe and Asia. Now there are at least six railways, six roads, and 72 air corridors through the territory of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan has participated in constructing the Western Europe-Western China Highway, which stretches 8,445 kilometers. Once completed, transporting cargo from the Chinese port of Lianyungang, East China's Jiangsu Province to St Petersburg will take only 10 days, compared with the 45 days it takes by sea. 

GT: In addition to logistics, in what areas could China and Kazakhstan cooperate more?
Sultanov: Amid the current geopolitical storm, China-Kazakhstan cooperation should focus on the following directions: One, to attract Chinese investment into Kazakhstan's economy; Two, to promote Kazakhstan's exports to China and Southeast Asian countries; Three, to help the conjugation of the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy and the EAEU with the China-proposed BRI and SREB; And four, to develop a transit-logistic Eurasian hub in Kazakhstan on the main routes connecting east and west, north and south.
Cooperation in establishing a "digital Silk Road" based on digital technologies has special importance. As a result, a memorandum of understanding on e-commerce cooperation between China and Kazakhstan was signed in 2018.

Currently, Kazakhstan's Ministry of Trade and Integration is negotiating to develop existing and create new logistics services with AliExpress Russia (Alibaba group) and logistics operator Cainiao (a division of Alibaba group) to launch mainline transportation from China to Kazakhstan by land transport.

Interregional and cross-border cooperation is also a promising area. To develop regional ties, Kazakhstan offers regular joint regional forums for entrepreneurs, including those who conduct their business in the Khorgos International Center for Border Cooperation. 

Another promising area in the bilateral trade could be the export of Kazakhstan's agricultural products to China, where the food market volume reaches $1.5 trillion annually. China's growing population and rising living standards have increased the demand for food, including organic food. This gives a real chance for our agricultural producers to enter and gain a foothold in the Chinese market. Almost 600 domestic producers of wheat, beef, pork, soybeans, honey, fish, rapeseed, alfalfa, corn, flour, and flour products now have received permission to export their goods to China.

GT: In recent years, what achievements have been made between China and Kazakhstan in trade and economic cooperation?
: China-Kazakhstan strategic cooperation is of particular importance in the current situation. In the opinion of the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, for the past 30 years, our countries have jointly built a strong foundation for a truly strategic partnership in all spheres. According to the president, Kazakhstan-China cooperation is "eternal, comprehensive and beyond the control of political conjuncture."

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the deterioration of the trade and economic environment, China-Kazakhstan trade and economic cooperation has maintained its positive dynamics. Thus, according to the results for 2021, the bilateral trade grew by 15.2 percent from the previous year, reaching $18.2 billion.

China is one of the five largest investors in Kazakhstan, accounting for 4.7 percent of total investment in the country. China invested $19.2 billion in Kazakhstan between 2005 and 2020. In turn, the amount of investment from Kazakhstan to China was $667.2 million.

Under the program of bilateral industrial-investment cooperation, China has begun the construction of 56 factories in Kazakhstan worth nearly $24.5 billion. Currently, there are 700 joint Kazakh-Chinese enterprises in Kazakhstan.