Leaders from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan met with China’s Hu Jintao on 6 June 2012, discussing trade cooperation and agreements, before the larger Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit (which focuses on security in the region as NATO forces leave Afghanistan).
A number of agreements were reaching during this summit, impacting all the central Asian republics save Uzbekistan:
- Turkmenistan’s President, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, met with Hu to discuss the Chinese-Turkmen relationship, as well as Turkmenistan’s role in the SCO;
- Kazakhstan and China signed an agreement on border cooperation and strategic partnership;
- Tajikistan offered China the chance to explore prospective oil fields in Tajikistan with Russia and stressed the need for security cooperation between the two nations; and
- Kyrgyzstan’s President spoke of the need for improved economic cooperation, suggesting the formation of a development bank and making the SCO a free-trade zone.
With all of the resources in Central Asia, and the crucial overland transport routes passing through the five countries, it is of little surprise that China is extending itself so much in the region. Deepening ties between China and the Central Asian countries is likely to make the US very nervous, especially as they lighten their footprint in Afghanistan.