A surge of economic nationalism is making life uncomfortable for Chinese companies working in Kyrgyzstan. Faced with obstacles to trade and investment in the restive republic, Beijing is looking for ways to mitigate risk. Kyrgyzstan, Chinese officials know, is not the only place in Central Asia eager for business.
Case in point: Early this month, Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voted to ban Chinese trucks from entering the country. Accused of damaging roads and monopolizing trucking routes, the giant lorries, typically the HOWO make, are the same types of trucks that have been plying the domestic market with cheap consumer goods and fuelling Kyrgyzstan’s re-export trade for years.
Ironically, Chinese companies paid with Chinese credit are repaving many of the highways the lorries may be forbidden from traversing.
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Chris Rickleton is a Bishkek-based journalist.