Central Asia: Prosecutors Probe for Ways to Improve Authoritarian Justice

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Our weekly update on recent developments in Chinese-Russian-Central Asian affairs.

Top prosecutors from Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states huddled recently in the Chinese city of Xian to discuss ways to make authoritarian legal systems more efficient. Participants signed a memorandum confirming a mutual desire to expand cooperation and information sharing.

Prosecutor generals from all Central Asian countries, except Turkmenistan, attended the gathering, along with representatives from Russia, Belarus, India and Iran.  The host, Chinese Prosecutor General Ying Yong, held a series of one-on-one meetings with his Central Asian counterparts on the sidelines of the gathering. Government statements issued by Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan indicated that discussions focused on improving extradition proceedings, state asset recovery due to corruption and information exchanges and joint training. 

Another bilateral meeting between Chinese and Tajik officials focused on “ways to prevent cybercrimes, terrorism and drug trafficking.” Meanwhile, Uzbekistan prosecutor’s office issued a statement noting that Uzbek Prosecutor General Nigmatulla Yuldashev gave a speech at the Xian forum touting his office’s role in “strengthening the rule of law,” as well as promoting crime prevention.

At a separate gathering in early November, representatives of China and Central Asian states held talks to “intensify exchanges” designed to train civil servants and standardize bureaucratic procedures. The idea for a “cooperation network between administrative academies of China and Central Asian countries” is an outgrowth of the China-Central Asian summit, held in Xian last May.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan will facilitate the transit of over 100 million tons of Russian oil to China, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said in comments published by the Russian daily, Izvestia. Tokayev also noted “about 80 percent of Kazakh oil is exported to foreign markets through Russian territory” via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium. 

An agreement on a visa-free travel between Kazakhstan and China went into effect on November 10, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry announced. According to the agreement, citizens of the two countries are “exempt from visa requirements for the purposes of private affairs, tourism, medical treatment, international transport, transit, and business.” Visa-free visits are limited to 30 days, and in total 90 days within any 180-day period. The agreement does not cover visits to Hong Kong and Macau. The first group of Kazakh tourists taking advantage of visa-free travel visited the western city of Urumqi, in China’s Xinjiang Province. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Transport has announced it is looking to boost the number of flights between the two countries to accommodate the expected rise in tourist traffic. Tentative plans call for an increase to 84 weekly flights connecting Kazakh and Chinese cities, up from the current number of 27.

During the January-October period of this year, cargo volume between China and Kazakhstan increased by 22 percent, compared to the same period in 2022, amounting to 23.6 million tons. Kazakhstan Railways reported that cargo volume from China to Kazakhstan increased by 8 percent, amounting to 9.1 million tons of goods. China-bound traffic totaled 14.5 million tons, a 32 percent increase over 2022’s figure.

Kazakhstan’s NC Food Corporation JSC will supply the China with 200,000 tons of grain, according to an agreement signed in early November, the company announced in a brief statement.

Kazakhstan’s nuclear energy entity, Kazatomprom, has signed a contract to supply uranium to a Chinese subsidiary of China’s National Nuclear Corp. The deal is designed to help China meet growing demand for “clean, carbon-free electricity,” according to a statement issued by Kazatomprom. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan exported natural gas valued at $41.6 million to China in September, the Gazeta.uz newspaper reported, citing official Chinese data. Since the beginning of the year, the value of Uzbek gas exports to China tops $412 million. That dollar amount marks a significant drop over 2022’s figure for the same time period – $767.68 million.

Kyrgyzstan

President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov touted the trade potential of the planned China-Kyrgyz-Uzbek railway project during the recent Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit, held in the Uzbek capital Tashkent. “This project will significantly increase the trade, economic and transit opportunities of our region,” Japarov said, without providing specific projections. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are still trying to secure funding to proceed with the project.

Tajikistan 

The Tajik-China Mining Co., TALCO and other enterprises have been included in an official list of tax scofflaws in Tajikistan. The tax dodgers owe the government upwards of 349 million somoni (about $31 million) in unpaid taxes, Sputnik Tajikistan reported. Poor revenue and operating prospects were cited as the main cause for tax evasion. 

Source : Eurasianet