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Central Asian elites choose China over Russia



Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the end of the signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China, 11 September 2019 (Andrea Verdelli/ Pool via REUTERS)

Author: Jon Yuan Jiang

Since 2019, more than 40 protests were held against ‘Chinese expansion’ in Central Asia. Yet Central Asian elites have hardly had a bad word to say. On the contrary, they suppressed these protests, denied that China’s goal was expansion and even requested their publics be grateful to China. No wonder some Russian commentators are worried about Russia’s waning influence.

The rationale to explain these Central Asian elites’ choices is that they may be better off embracing China while subtly distancing themselves from Russia, as Beijing increasingly aligns with its Central Asian counterparts with greater success than Moscow. Despite Central Asian countries being independent for three decades, it is common to find Russian assertions that they still effectively own the region. Some Russian officials have even publicly claimed that the entire territory of Kazakhstan was a gift from Russia, which was denounced severely among Kazakh elites.

Arguments about expansion and loss of sovereignty are dubious in Central Asia. Nowadays, Central Asian elites enjoy full sovereignty to defend their national interests. When the legislation around long-term land leases by foreign countries stirred up massive protests against the Kazakhstan government and Chinese influence, the bill was ditched and Beijing did not react. Kazakh elites also rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to construct nuclear power plants there. When Turkmenistan closed Russian language courses, the local Russian embassy expressed regret, but nothing tougher.

Numerous ethnic Russians live in Central Asia and the annexation of Crimea looms as a precedent. Central Asian elites might never express their fear of Russian annexation freely, but it is certainly a concern. In contrast, very few ethnic Han Chinese reside in Central Asia. The cardinal interest of China in this part of the world is to eliminate terrorism and separatism, purchase resources and trade with Europe through Central Asia. None of these interests constitute any potential territorial threat to Central Asia.

The dubious benefits of alignment with Russia’s stagnating economy pale in comparison to China’s economic might. With the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China was a larger trading partner than Russia for most Central Asian nations by 2019. As Alexander Grishin noted, Chinese investment has now surpassed Russia in almost all Central Asian countries. Russian investment in Kazakhstan in 2016 was just over US$12 billion, whereas Chinese investment, according to official data, exceeded US$20 billion. Unofficial figures of Chinese investment ranged from US$55 billion to US$80 billion.

As Benno Zogg argued, compared to the economic power of China, ‘particularly the volume of funds for infrastructure in the framework of the BRI, Russia and its rigid, protectionist, and politicised Eurasian projects pale’. Russia is a direct competitor to Central Asia’s natural resources exports to the Chinese market, which may push Central Asian elites to the Chinese side.

According to Adil Kaukenov and Bakhtiyor Ergashev, Moscow consulted minimally with Central Asian partners concerning Eurasian integration, preferring to offer feelings of kinship and shared history rather than practical benefits. This may be effective in winning over the public and some of the more sensationalist media in the region, but it is much less persuasive to Central Asian elites who see the relationship with China as more business-like.

This explains why Central Asian elites have endeavoured to ‘de-Russianise’ themselves to enhance their own national identity by promoting local languages. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan deliberately implemented the latinisation of their national languages, eschewing the Russian Cyrillic alphabet. In this context, increasing cooperation with China — which also entails enhancing its influence — not only accords with the economic interests and diversity of Central Asian nations, but also indirectly promotes their nation-building efforts.

The leadership shift in Central Asia may reflect their willingness to negotiate more with Beijing. Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is a fluent Mandarin speaker with diplomatic experience and connections in China. Former deputy prime minister Dariga Nazarbayev, the eldest daughter of the first president of Kazakhstan, extolled the virtue of learning Chinese, arguing closer ties to China is Kazakhstan’s destiny. The incumbent Kyrgyzstan President, Sadyr Japarov, was purportedly…

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China Unveils Plan to Upgrade Industrial Equipment



China unveiled a comprehensive action plan for upgrading industrial equipment, with a focus on driving technological innovation and economic growth. The plan, released on April 9, 2024, aims to enhance competitiveness and sustainability within the manufacturing sector through extensive investment and regulatory support.

China announced an ambitious action plan for industrial equipment upgrading, which aims to drive technological innovation and economic growth through extensive investment and regulatory support.

On April 9, 2024, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and six other departments jointly released a notice introducing the Implementation Plan for Promoting Equipment Renewal in the Industrial Sector (hereafter referred to as the “action plan”).

Finalized earlier on March 23, 2024, this comprehensive action plan addresses critical issues related to technological innovation and economic development. It reflects China’s proactive stance in enhancing competitiveness and sustainability within its manufacturing sector. The initiative underscores the recognition of industrial equipment upgrading as a top policy priority.

The scope of China’s action plan to upgrade industrial equipment in manufacturing, is extensive, covering various aspects such as:

In line with China’s ambitious goals for industrial modernization and sustainable development, the action plan outlines several key objectives aimed at driving substantial advancements in the industrial sector by 2027.

These objectives encompass a wide range of areas, from increasing investment to enhancing digitalization and promoting innovation, including:

The objectives and key actions proposed in the action plan are summarized below.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at

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China deepens engagement with new Indonesian president as top diplomat visits Jakarta



China’s top diplomat met the outgoing Indonesian president and his successor in Jakarta on Thursday, as Beijing deepened its engagement with future leader Prabowo Subianto, amid a competition for regional influence with the United States.

The meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was part of a joint commitment to advance the partnership between the two countries, said Prabowo, who visited Beijing in early April after his landslide win in the February general election.

“It is a great honor for me to welcome him [Wang] today. Thank you for the kind reception I received in Beijing a few weeks ago,” Prabowo said, according to an Indonesian defense ministry statement.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had invited Prabowo to visit, and the latter accepting the invitation raised eyebrows in Indonesia because no president-elect had made a foreign visit such as this one without being sworn in. China is Indonesia’s largest trading partner.

Wang, too, mentioned Prabowo’s Beijing trip, according to the same statement.

“We really appreciate and welcome Defense Minister Prabowo’s visit to China,” he said.

“We are committed to continuing to increase bilateral cooperation with Indonesia, both in the defense sector and other fields such as economic, social and cultural.”

Wang is scheduled to go to East Nusa Tenggara province on Friday to attend the China-Indonesia High-Level Dialogue Cooperation Mechanism, a process to support more effective bilateral cooperation. His Jakarta stop was the first of a six-day tour that also includes Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi attend a press conference after their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta, April 18, 2024. (Eko Siswono Toyudho/ BenarNews)

Prabowo and Wang discussed cooperation in the defense industry and sector, with potential measures such as educational and training collaboration, as well as joint exercises, said Brig. Gen. Edwin Adrian Sumantha, spokesman at the Indonesian defense ministry.

In fact, the ministry statement said that “China is Indonesia’s close partner and has had close bilateral relations, especially in the defense sector, for a long time.”

Of course, China has also invested billions of U.S. dollars in infrastructure projects in Indonesia, including as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative – the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train, which began commercial operations in October 2023, is one such BRI project.

The two countries have drawn closer during outgoing President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s two terms, and Beijing would like that to continue as the U.S. tries to catch up with China’s gargantuan influence in Southeast Asia, analysts have said.

Indonesia, China call for ceasefire in Gaza

Both Indonesia and China shared the same position on Israel’s devastating attacks on Gaza, said Wang’s Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi.

Israel’s air and ground strikes have killed more than 33,000 Palestinians following the Oct. 7 attack on the Jewish state by Palestinian militant group Hamas, which killed around 1,100 Israelis.

“We … have the same view regarding the importance of a ceasefire in Gaza and resolving the Palestinian problem fairly through two state solutions,” Retno told reporters in a joint press conference after meeting with Wang. 

“Indonesia will support full Palestinian membership in the U.N. Middle East stability will not be realized without resolving the Palestinian issue.”

For his part, Wang slammed Washington for repeatedly vetoing resolutions calling for Israel to end the attacks on the Palestinian territory it occupies.

“The conflict in Gaza has lasted for half a year and caused a rare humanitarian tragedy in the 21st century,” Wang told the media at the same press conference, according to the Associated Press.

“The United Nations Security Council responded to the call of the international community and continued to review the resolution draft on the cease-fire in Gaza, but it was repeatedly vetoed by the United States.”

The conflict in the Middle East offered a strategic opportunity for China to further expand its influence in Southeast Asia, said Muhamad Arif, a lecturer in international relations at the University of Indonesia.

“China is trying to strengthen its position as a key player in the region,” Arief told BenarNews.

China could present an alternative approach to the conflict in Gaza, he said, which may find approval in Southeast Asia’s largest country, Indonesia, and other Mulism-majority states in the region, such as Malaysia and Brunei.

BenarNews is an RFA-affiliated online news organization.

Read the rest of this article here >>> China deepens engagement with new Indonesian president as top diplomat visits Jakarta

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New Publication: A Guide for Foreign Investors on Navigating China’s New Company Law



The sixth revision of China’s Company Law is the most extensive amendment in history, impacting foreign invested enterprises with stricter rules on capital injection and corporate governance. Most FIEs must align with the New Company Law by July 1, 2024, with a deadline of December 31, 2024 for adjustments. Contact Dezan Shira & Associates for assistance.

The sixth revision of China’s Company Law represents the most extensive amendment in its history. From stricter capital injection rules to enhanced corporate governance, the changes introduced in the New Company Law have far-reaching implications for businesses, including foreign invested enterprises (FIEs) operating in or entering the China market.

Since January 1, 2020, the Company Law has governed both wholly foreign-owned enterprises (WFOEs) and joint ventures (JVs), following the enactment of the Foreign Investment Law (FIL). Most FIEs must align with the provisions of the New Company Law from July 1, 2024, while those established before January 1, 2020 have bit more time for adjustments due to the five-year grace period provided by the FIL. The final deadline for their alignment is December 31, 2024.

In this publication, we guide foreign investors through the implications of the New Company Law for existing and new FIEs and relevant stakeholders. We begin with an overview of the revision’s background and objectives, followed by a summary of key changes. Our in-depth analysis, from a foreign stakeholder perspective, illuminates the practical implications. Lastly, we explore tax impacts alongside the revisions, demonstrating how the New Company Law may shape future business transactions and arrangements.

If you or your company require assistance with Company Law adjustments in China, please do not hesitate to contact Dezan Shira & Associates. For more information, feel free to reach us via email at


This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at

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