News Briefing Central Asia has a great interview with Kamoliddin Rabbimov about the future of Chinese-Uzbek relations, and what the motivations are for both in increasing their ties, despite both countries making it difficult for other countries to engage, or in Uzbekistan’s case, invest in either.
In Uzbekistan, foreign investment is something of a Herculean task, even for the biggest corporations. General Motors is apparently forced to let workers take paid days off to participate in the cotton harvests. There’s no indication in the interview as to if Uzbekistan has relaxed these draconian conditions for businesses in an effort to lure China in more, but Rabbimov does indicate that China is willing to throw money at just about any project in an effort to make sure they can keep Uzbekistan close at hand and Russia/the US that much further away. Uzbekistan, aside from the obvious economic benefit of having China’s business, sees China as a buffer to Russian and US advancement.
China’s also able to preserve their reputation as the champion of developing countries by investing in Uzbekistan, as well as promoting their doctrine of doing business with no cost to a country’s sovereignty, particularly important in a country such as Uzbekistan, which, as is pointed out, is going to be a crossroads (literally) in Asia, as well as geopolitically as Russia, China, the US and Europe begin to move inward on the continent, looking for resources, new markets and transport routes.
It’s also worth pointing out that with China and their poor record of human rights as an ally, Uzbekistan can stave of criticism of their own brutal repression just a little bit more. Or at least listen to it a little bit less.