Biden’s Summit With Central Asian Leaders ‘a Speculative Investment’ to Compete for Influence in Region With Russia, China: Expert

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While US President Joe Biden is set to hold a summit with leaders of five Central Asian countries on Tuesday, experts warned that the US’ engagement with them is not aimed at promoting long-term stability and prosperity in the region, but rather to drag the region into conflicts.

The dialogue between the US and Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, referred to as the C5+1 format, began in 2015, but the meeting on Tuesday marks the first time an American president meets with all Central Asian leaders together, according to media reports.

Regional security, climate change, trade and connectivity and ongoing reforms to improve governance and the rule of law will top the agenda, according to the White House. It will take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session.

Chinese experts view the upcoming meeting as a “speculative investment.” 

The summit is a way of hitching a ride, rather than being specifically convened. The fact that no US president has visited Central Asia in over 30 years shows Washington’s real attitude toward Central Asia, Zhu Yongbiao, executive director of the Research Center for the Belt and Road at Lanzhou University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The US is using the summit to draw Central Asia away from the influence of Russia, experts said. In other words, it aims to deliberately sow discord in relationships in the region. 

Against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the US hopes to see some differences and distance between Central Asia and Russia and the US wants to maintain its influence over Central Asian affairs at the lowest cost, Zhu said.

An article by the US Atlantic Council on September 6 described the meeting as an opportunity for Biden to counter the influence of Russia and China in the region, but the White House insisted that the meeting was not targeting any country.

Analysts believe that Central Asian countries are wary of the US’ intentions, so they always maintain a certain distance from the US, which is reflected in their foreign policies. On one hand, they welcome increased attention from the US on major affairs because they can leverage US resources. On the other hand, Central Asian countries maintain a moderate level of vigilance toward some of the US’ proposals, including attempts to sow discord between Russia and Central Asia, and between China and Central Asia, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

The US’ engagement with Central Asian countries is not aimed at promoting long-term stability and prosperity in the region, but rather to drag Central Asia into conflicts, Li said. Therefore, Central Asian countries need to strike a balance, on one hand, to obtain more resources for their own development from the West, especially the US, and on the other hand, to avoid being used as pawns by the US. This requires Central Asian countries to have great wisdom and strategies, Li noted.

Source : Global Times