China in Central Asia: Is China winning the “new great game”?

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sign documents during the signing ceremony, at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China  September 11, 2019 Andrea Verdelli/ Pool via REUTERS   *** Local Caption *** BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 11: Kazakh President Kassym Jomart Tokayev talks to Chinese President Xi Jinping (not pictured) during the meeting on September 11, 2019 at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China. (Photo by Andrea Verdelli/Pool/Getty Images

Executive Summary

Learn more about Global ChinaThis paper takes issue with the U.S. narrative that Chinese activities in Central Asia are, on balance, damaging to the interests of those countries. It notes that these states leverage China’s involvement to address development and security challenges that would otherwise be under-resourced, and that availing themselves of such leverage comports with U.S. interests in the region. It recommends that U.S. policy focus on elevating its diplomatic presence and on assisting institution-building that would improve project assessment and governance capacities.