Passengers boarding trains for the long journey between Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, and its commercial hub, Almaty, can now nurse a comforting thought: in a few years travel times will be dramatically slashed – and it will be partly thanks to China.
A cooperation deal on a high-speed rail link between the two cities was among a bevy of agreements that Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, emerged with from a February 21-23 visit to his powerful neighbor. The trip saw the two countries cement a cozy political and economic relationship.
The deals, including a nuclear cooperation agreement and generous Chinese loans to develop Kazakhstani industrial facilities, illustrate how a partnership originally centered on Beijing's desire to vacuum up its neighbor’s energy resources is branching out – and proving to be a two-way street.
To read the full story
Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer specializing in Central Asia.