China may have been able to carve out quickly a large economic role for itself in Central Asia, but it will take a lot more than money for Beijing to solve some of its geopolitical dilemmas in the region, according to a report released today by the Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group.
The ICG report, titled China’s Central Asia Problem, takes an in-depth look at the near-term challenges that Chinese officials are facing. It notes that China is now an economic force in Central Asia, with trade between Beijing and the five Central Asian states rising from $527 million per year in 1992 to $30 billion annually by 2010. Beijing sees the region as a source of raw materials and energy, as well as a market for its cheap consumer goods. China has also pumped hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and investment into Central Asia in the hopes that such lavish spending will promote stabilization in its western Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
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