China has continued to underscore connectivity, economic development and integration and complementarity of objectives, envisioning a ‘win-win’ situation for all states in the implementation of OBOR, as well as in its bilateral relations with its neighbours. The growing economic and strategic ties between China and the neighbouring Eurasian states bring to light enormous disparities between economic potential, demographic and labour capabilities. The infrastructural development envisaged under OBOR bring in not only enormous investments, technology, goods (‘hardware’) from China but also skills, labour force, and practices prevalent in China (‘software’). These have produced anxieties among the neighbours of their lands being reduced to resource extraction peripheries, as ‘dumping ground’ for China’s surplus production. Also rife are fears about their enormous lands being leased under unfavourable terms for agriculture and manufacturing to China, thus de facto placing them under Chinese control. The absence of credible statistics, facts, and informed debates as well as lack of adequate reforms in laws pertaining to land lease, property ownership, employment of foreign workforce in Russia, Kazakhstan further enable informal and quasi-legal patterns of land lease and production.
About the Speaker:
Bhavna Davé (PhD in Political Science from Syracuse University, NY) is Senior Lecturer in Central Asian Politics in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London where she also holds the position of Chair of the Centre of Contemporary Central Asia and the Caucasus. She is the author of the book Kazakhstan: Ethnicity, Language and Power (Routledge: London, 2007). She is editor of Modern Central Asia (London: Routledge, 2009), a four-volume reference collection Modern Central Asia (London: Routledge, 2009), part of Routledge’s series on Critical Issues in Modern Politics. She has published works on issues of language and ethnic identities, minorities, elections and patronage in Kazakhstan, and EU-Central Asia relations, labour migration in Kazakhstan and Russia, and the role of the Russian Far East in Russia’s ‘turn to Asia’ policy. Her current research and writing focus on two separate projects: 1) the shadow political economy of labour migration, migrant and diaspora networks in cities in Russia; and 2) the implications of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative for economic development of the Russian Far East and social, political and security consequences for Central Asian states.