China supports deployment of Russian-led troops in Kazakhstan

China supports deployment of Russian-led troops in Kazakhstan

China is backing Russian-led forces in Kazakhstan to quell deadly protests in its neighbour. China also supports the assessment of the President of Kazakhstan, who said that the source of the unrest was terrorist activity.

The turmoil in Kazakhstan that began with peaceful protests has turned deadly. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev asked the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to send troops to help quell the protests.

In the latest news, President Tokayev called the riots an attempted coup against him. The peaceful protest that ended in chaos and death was also suspected to be related to the power struggle among the Kazakh ruling elite.

1. Three evil forces cause chaos

China is a close neighbor of Kazakhstan. The two countries share a border that is more than 1,782 kilometers long. Even so, regarding the deadly riots in Kazakhstan, China is more considered to see it from a distance.

But China is backing the Russian-led CSTO force that President Tokayev has asked to help quell deadly unrest in the neighboring country.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a communication with his Russian counterpart that the two of them should oppose "external forces that interfere with the internal affairs of Central Asian countries."

Wang also cited the "three evil forces" as the cause of the chaos. The three evil forces are religious extremism, secessionist movements and violent terrorism. It is these three evil forces that China considers to be making Xinjiang or Kazakhstan unstable.

2. China ensures that it will support the security and smooth running of Kazakhstan's economic projects

The countries in Central Asia are the former Soviet states. Western influence in this bloc is arguably very less. But as a strategically rich region, Central Asia can be seen as a field of geopolitical competition between Russia and China.

Over the past few years, relations between Moscow and Beijing have grown increasingly cordial. Beijing is also unlikely to act rashly by intervening in Central Asia, which has strong ties to Moscow.

In response to deadly unrest in Kazakh, which has spread to nearly half the country, President Xi Jinping offered his condolences. Foreign Minister Wang Yi also gave support to the Kazakh government for security stability.

According to the Global Times, in a call with Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi, Wang Yi said that China would ensure the safe and smooth operation of major China-Kazakh projects.

Yang Jin, a China researcher focusing on Central Asia said "China is cooperating with Kazakhstan on oil and gas even earlier than with Russia, which reflects the importance of the strategic partnership between the two countries."

Although Russia's influence in Kazakhstan is very strong, including the use of Russian as the language of instruction, China is a major country that has invested tens of billions of dollars in Kazakhstan's oil projects.

Countries in Central Asia are dependent on large economic investments from Beijing.

Yang Jin said "another important point is that China needs to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel and interests in Kazakhstan, and we believe the Kazakh government will take this request seriously."

3. President Tokayev calls the riots an attempted coup

Protests in Kazakhstan began on January 2, 2022 in the western part of the country. The protest occurred because the government almost doubled the price of fuel even though the country is rich in oil.

The protests then spread to the government's dissatisfaction with solving the problems of poverty and unemployment. Even in another analysis, the protest is allegedly related to the power struggle among the ruling elite.

According to the BBC, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev recently claimed that the deadly protests were an attempted coup against him.

In front of CSTO military leaders, Tokayev also said that the riots were carried out by armed militants aimed at destroying the constitutional order, destroying government institutions and trying to gain power.

Tokayev alleges that armed groups organized, had military education outside Kazakh, and were now interfering in the riots. That claim is backed by Russia and echoed by China.

But until now, there is no clear details on who the group is and who its leader is. But Kazakh and CSTO forces have carried out so-called counter-terror operations widely to quell unrest, particularly in the city of Almaty, the deadliest city in the incident.