Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev today begins a two-day visit to China, as he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss economic cooperation and infrastructure.
The Kazakh government revealed earlier this year that it would accept the construction of 55 new Chinese industrial facilities through China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The move incensed some Kazakhs, who allege China has significantly expanded its influence in the country over the past 20 years. Since September 2, varying crowds of between 100 and 400 people have peacefully gathered in Nur-Saltan, Almaty and Zhanaozen to protest.
Mr Toqaev is keen to capitalise on his strong relationship with Beijing, weathering domestic discontent to continue accruing Chinese investments. This has in part contributed to Kazakhstan’s economic recovery from a 2015-16 slump in the price for oil—the country’s main export.
Do not expect President Toqaev to be swayed by protests at home, as he blames his political opponents for the anti-Chinese sentiment. However, following an embezzlement case earlier this year on a BRI railway project in Nur-Sultan, he will likely exhibit greater transparency with future deals.
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