China is exploring ways to boost educational exchanges with Central Asian states. Such efforts appear designed to reinforce Chinese business activity in the region.
China’s Deputy Education Minister Sun Yao recently visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In Astana, discussions focused on the creation of a Kazakh-Chinese scientific research center at Al-FarabiNational University, one of Kazakhstan’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning. Officials also announced an expansion of an educational exchange program, as well as plans to increase Chinese-language instruction at Kazakh universities and develop dual-degree programs.
In Uzbekistan, Sun’s talks likewise focused on increasing Chinese language instruction, as well as educational cooperation in such areas as engineering, internet technology, artificial intelligence and medicine, according to an Uzbek Ministry of Higher Education statement. In 2024, the two countries intend to organize a forum for Uzbek and Chinese university rectors. Sun also raised the possibility of opening additional vocational training centers, known as Luban workshops, in both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Elsewhere, the China Petroleum Corporation in Turkmenistan (CNPCIT) is continuing a program to train energy sector specialists in Turkmenistan, according to the Turkmen government mouthpiece, Neitralny Turkmenistan. Over the next two years, CNPCIT will provide scholarships to Turkmen nationals to study at China’s Petroleum University. The exchange students will focus on gaining expertise in such areas as reservoir exploration and engineering. To date, CNPCIT has helped 158 Turkmen students study at Petroleum University.