The Year of the Snake has been full of unpleasant surprises for Chinese living in Kyrgyzstan. Against a backdrop of rising economic nationalism and weak law enforcement, Chinese migrants complain they’re being targeted for robberies and extortion, especially by law-enforcement officers who are supposed to protect them.
In December, Chinese state media publicized a “wave” of attacks on Chinese entrepreneurs and students in and around Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek. The report, published in the Beijing-based Global Times, said many victims feel they’re being ethnically profiled. It also alleged that Kyrgyz police have been complicit in violent robberies. That same month, the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek took the unusual step of issuing an “emergency safety alert,” warning citizens to be vigilant. Another statement issued by the embassy rebuked Kyrgyz authorities for failing to protect Chinese citizens.
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Chris Rickleton is a Bishkek-based journalist.