Ep. 21 – Uzbekistan and China’s Economic Relations and Central Asia

SpecialEurasia Geopolitical Report Podcast Ep.21 - Uzbekistan and China's Economic Cooperation
Geopolitical Report - SpecialEurasia
Ep. 21 - Uzbekistan and China's Economic Relations and Central Asia


In our latest episode of the Geopolitical Report Podcast, we delved into the burgeoning economic and trade cooperation between Uzbekistan and the People’s Republic of China and its repercussions on the geopolitical landscape of Central Asia.

Uzbekistan has emerged as a pivotal partner for China in this strategically significant region. Its geographical location, which offers substantial transit potential, and its rich reserves of raw materials have significantly enhanced its appeal to foreign investors.

Notably, China’s substantial foreign investments in Uzbekistan are predominantly channelled towards infrastructural development, particularly in the transport sector. Additionally, the geopolitical imperatives of regional stability and security further solidify this partnership, given Uzbekistan’s proximity to Afghanistan, a source of persistent security threats such as terrorism and drug trafficking.

The dynamic phase of Uzbek-Chinese cooperation commenced with the ascension of Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the presidency, a trend that has persisted robustly. Mirziyoyev’s tenure has been marked by comprehensive internal reforms, during which China’s role has become increasingly pivotal.

In 2024, Mirziyoyev’s visit to China underscored his administration’s eagerness for Chinese companies to participate actively in Uzbekistan’s privatisation initiatives, a cornerstone of the country’s economic liberalisation efforts. This invitation signifies Tashkent’s strategic alignment with Beijing in its quest for modernisation and economic revitalisation, leveraging Chinese expertise and capital.

A primary focus of this bilateral cooperation lies in the development of transport infrastructure, a sector that has witnessed remarkable growth. The volume of railway transportation between the two nations has surged annually, underscoring the deepening economic ties.

The ambitious project to construct the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway remains a high-priority agenda item. This infrastructure endeavour is envisioned to enhance the transcontinental trade route linking China to Europe, further integrating Uzbekistan into the global trade network and amplifying its role as a critical transit hub.

The escalating Uzbek-Chinese cooperation poses a potential challenge to Moscow’s strategic interests in Central Asia. The Russian Federation has historically viewed the region as its blizhnee zarubezhe (near abroad) and integral to its sphere of influence or lebensraum.

Russia’s aspirations include incorporating all Central Asian republics into the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), thus cementing its dominance. The increasing Chinese footprint in Uzbekistan, therefore, could undermine Russia’s influence and shift the regional power dynamics, creating a complex interplay of alliances and rivalries.

Given this backdrop, our podcast’s discussion ventured into the possible geopolitical shifts in Central Asia stemming from the intensifying Beijing-Tashkent partnership. This evolving alliance may recalibrate regional alliances, prompting neighbouring countries to reassess their foreign policy strategies. Central Asia’s geopolitical future may hinge on how effectively these nations navigate the competing influences of major powers such as China and Russia, balancing economic opportunities with political and security considerations.

In conclusion, the Uzbekistan-China cooperation exemplifies a broader trend of strategic realignments in Central Asia. As Uzbekistan pursues economic liberalisation and infrastructural development with Chinese assistance, it simultaneously navigates the intricate web of regional geopolitics.

The implications of this cooperation extend beyond economic gains, influencing regional stability, security, and the geopolitical balance of power. The intricate dance between national interests and external influences continues to shape the future of Central Asia, making it a region of profound geopolitical significance.

Listen also | Ep. 12 – Geopolitics of Central Asia and AfPak: A Conversation with Max Taylor

For further information, reports, and consulting services about Uzbekistan and Central Asia, contact us at info@specialeurasia.com