Harbin Institute of Technology
The proposal for master’s degree
TRADE DEVELOPMENT BETWEEN CHINA AND KAZAKHSTAN AND ITS IMPACT ON ECONOMY OF KAZAKHSTAN
1. Background and the Research Purpose
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 enabled the states of Central Asia to rediscover their Chinese neighbor, excluded from the economic and cultural of the region during the years of Sino-Soviet conflict. In less than two decades, Beijing has taken advantage of the disappearance of its Soviet neighbor to launch its program of development of the “Great West” and open up Xinjiang to border nations, while the states of Central Asia, seeking new partners, have sought to benefit from China’s dynamism by integrating themselves into the Asia-Pacific zone of prosperity. While the Chinese authorities may make a point of honor in establishing cordial relations with the five states of the region, Kazakhstan partnership with China is termed “strategic, confirming Astana as a major political ally of Beijing in a post-Soviet climate in which the Kazakh government is displaying balanced and diversified policies in the face of Moscow’s heavy-handed presence. This privileged China-Kazakhstan partnership is based on a multifaceted economic reality. These days, China-Kazakhstan trade represents more than two-thirds (about 70 percent) of all China-Central Asia trade. Unlike the other historical power in the region, Islam Karimov’s Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, under the leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbaev since 1989, has undertaken important economic liberalization reforms that, despite their limitations, are now succeeding in attracting foreign investment. Kazakhstan has thus become the second richest country in the post-Soviet space: with a GDP estimated at $9,400 per capita in 2006, it sits just behind Russia (with approximately $12,000) but ahead of the other Central Asian countries (between $8,500 and $1,300). In 15 years, it has succeeded in dramatically halving the portion of its population living below the poverty line (now less than 25 percent), whereas in the other four states of the region, more than half of the population is still considered “poor.” In addition, the country has seen the emergence of a middle class, a guarantee of longer-term stability. The exponential growth in economic relations with China since the beginning of the 1990s has not once been challenged. Kazakhstan even opened a consulate in Hong Kong in 2003 and one in Shanghai in 2005 to facilitate contact.
Nevertheless, economic relations between the two countries reveal multiple imbalances that are increasingly raising questions within Kazakhstan’s political class and among local experts. While the official Chinese position extols the complementarity of the two economies and the mutual benefit of trade, this optimistic view is largely disputed on the ground. Kazakh concerns over possible Chinese domination are based not only on economic arguments .They need to be situated in a social context in which fear of China remains very real: the general lack of knowledge about China, and fear of too great a difference in demographic power, might well be important factors influencing Kazakh reactions to China’s growing presence. With the increasing integration with the global world, Chinese trade along with world trade as a whole is dominated by trade between major trading blocs, such as East Asia, the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and the European Union (EU) each of which includes economically advanced market economies. Of these partners Chinese trade with the EU has increased...
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