COMMENT: China exerts most influence over Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

DEC. 19 2022 (The Bulletin) —  Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are among the top 10 countries in the world most heavily influenced by China, a new index has said.

The China Index, produced by Taiwan-based think tank Doublethink Lab, ranked Kyrgyzstan at eighth most influenced and Tajikistan at ninth. Below them Kazakhstan was ranked at number 15, Uzbekistan at 24 and Turkmenistan at 45.

The disparity with the South Caucasus is immediately obvious with Azerbaijan ranked at 67th most influenced by China, Georgia 29th and Armenia 48th.

As Doublethink Lab wrote in its introduction to its index, this is a first effort to quantify and rank China’s influence around the world. And it should be no surprise that Central Asia is listed high up the table. It has been the focus of China’s Belt and Road Initiative for more than a decade, a drive to strengthen transport routes between East and West. 

The effect of the BRI is obvious on the ground across Central Asia where new Chinese-built roads crisscross the region. China has also bought up huge amounts of the region’s hydrocarbon reserves and is the main client for its gas.

Less obvious, and something that the China Index tries to highlight, is China’s influence over other sectors of a country’s fabric. For Kyrgyzstan, the China Index highlights China’s influence over its technology, law enforcement and foreign policy.

“The China Index was designed by activists to aid activists. The China Index supports global advocacy by connecting the dots of People’s Republic of China influence,” it said.

Published roughly at the same time is a report by Katja Kalkchmeid, of Ruhr University in Germany, on 17 years of Chinese spending in Central Asia and the South Caucasus which focused on developing the region as a trade hub.

Her conclusion was that although China’s influence has grown, the development also holds opportunities for other countries.

“The Southern Caucasus countries need to strategically manage the development cooperation offers from China and other powers to make the new interest in the region beneficial for them,” Ms Kalkchmeid wrote. “This requires taking measures to ensure that foreign-financed projects meet domestic needs and interests and become effective for domestic development.”

>> Read the reports at: and


— This story was published in issue 531 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on Dec. 19 2022

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2022

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