Libmonster ID: SE-310
Author(s) of the publication: A. GABUEV


Chinese President Hu Jintao's mid-August tour of Central Asia, which culminated in his participation in the sixth meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), demonstrated a new vector of China's policy in this region, as well as in relation to the SCO. It seems that Beijing intends to rely on Central Asia as a key link in the system of ensuring China's energy security, using the SCO as an effective mechanism for maintaining stability in the region.


According to the decisions of the Fifth Anniversary SCO Summit held in Shanghai in June 2006, the next summit was to be held in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. But soon enough, many Central Asian news agencies began to report that the Bishkek summit was in danger of being disrupted due to the large financial difficulties experienced by the Kyrgyz leadership. SCO members even discussed the possibility of moving the sixth summit to another country of the Shanghai Six1. However, these concerns were not confirmed, and in the end a representative regional forum was held in Bishkek.

However, shortly before the start of the summit, Kyrgyz President K. Bakiyev said that a significant part of the funds for holding such a representative event were allocated not from the Kyrgyz budget,but were provided free of charge to the PRC. 2 So, it was Chinese workers who participated in the hasty reconstruction of the Ala-Archa state residence. In addition, Beijing provided the Kyrgyz leadership with garbage trucks worth $1.3 million, as well as 300 buses and 30 cars - on the day of the summit, they were used to transport foreign delegations. Thus, the Chinese leadership largely financed the SCO Bishkek summit from its own funds, which indicates the special importance that Beijing attached to this forum.

Moreover, a few days before the start of the SCO summit, Chinese President Hu Jintao himself arrived in Bishkek on a state visit, accompanied by a very representative delegation, which included Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Wu Yi, Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Chairman of the State Development and Reform Committee Ma Kai, as well as Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai. During the visit, fundamentally important agreements were signed that guarantee the Kyrgyz economy a significant influx of Chinese investment. Thus, the Export-Import Bank of the People's Republic of China issued a soft loan for the construction of the Kyzyl-Ki cement plant, and the State Development Bank of the People's Republic of China financed the country's largest telecommunications company Kyrgyztelecom. In addition, the State Bank's management announced its intention to create a special fund for lending to small and medium-sized businesses in Kyrgyzstan. Finally, Bishkek and Beijing agreed to build a railway that will link Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China.3

Information about the reasons for Beijing's unexpected generosity began to leak to the press even before the start of the SCO summit. So, from sources in the leadership of Kyrgyzstan, it became known that in exchange for financial assistance, the Chinese leadership expects President Bakiyev to take more decisive actions against the US Air Force base at the Kyrgyz Manas airport near Bishkek.

This base has been used by the US military since December 2001 as a key air mobility center to support Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and in the fall of 2005, after the closure of the US Karshi-Khanabad airbase in Uzbekistan, C-130 military transport aircraft were transferred here-agreements on this were reached during a meeting between K. Bakiyev and the Secretary of State US k. Rice. However, back in 2004, the July declaration of the SCO summit in Astana called on Washington to determine the deadline for the withdrawal of its air force from the territory of Kyrgyzstan. In May 2006, K. Bakiyev even intended to increase the annual fee for renting the base from $2 million. up to $207 million, but in the end, after negotiations, it was decided that the United States would provide economic assistance to Kyrgyzstan in the amount of about $150 million, and the fee for the base will be included in this amount. Subsequently, in the spring of 2007, the Kyrgyz Parliament launched a violent campaign to expel the base.

As many experts expected, it was at the SCO summit in Bishkek that K. Bakiyev was supposed to demand that the United States withdraw the air base, but this did not happen. A possible explanation for this is that

page 15

It should be noted that in accordance with the Millennium Challenge program adopted by the United States, Bishkek has been promised $16 million in gratuitous aid.4 The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a structure close to the US Department of State, has become the coordinator of this program5.

However, the Chinese president himself did not speak about the need to withdraw American bases from Central Asia in Bishkek. Hu Jintao's speech to the participants of the sixth SCO summit was mainly devoted to the adoption of the concept of a "harmonious world", which should lead to "the establishment of a more just world order"6, and the official statements of the Chinese president in Bishkek were emphasized peace-loving, which, most likely, is not an accident.


In this regard, it is very significant that the Chinese leader did not support the discussion about the deployment of the United States ' missile defense system (ABM), which had a chance to become almost a key topic of the summit. The fact is that at the ministerial conferences of the "six" countries that were held in Bishkek in June and July 2007 in preparation for the summit, the topic of missile defense was repeatedly raised by representatives of the Russian side. Moscow's attention to the topic of missile defense is understandable - Washington's plans to deploy its radar in the Czech Republic and ten interceptor missiles in Poland have caused a noticeable cooling in relations between Russia and the United States. In June 2007, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said in Bishkek that " the deployment of US missile defense elements in Europe not only violates military-strategic parity, but also threatens cooperation between Russia and the EU and NATO structures in the field of security." According to him, "such actions evoke the times of the Cold War7. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also spoke in Bishkek about the dangerous consequences of unilateral US actions in the field of missile defense.

Given the statements of Russian ministers, it was expected that the topic of missile defense would be seriously discussed at the SCO summit and would be reflected in the Bishkek Declaration. China's support for this topic would be quite logical - at the moment, the United States, Australia and Japan are actively negotiating the creation of a joint missile defense system in the Pacific Ocean, which, as officially announced, is aimed at deterring the DPRK. The last round of these talks, which began in March 2007, was held at the APEC Forum in Australia last September. However, in fact, as noted in the May (2007) report of the Pentagon to the US Congress on the state of the armed forces of the PRC, 8 the same system will be able to block China's nuclear forces stationed on strategic nuclear submarines in the Pacific Ocean.

And yet, the only leader who tried to open a discussion on the missile defense issue was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was invited to the SCO summit. He said that " the intention of some countries to deploy missile defense systems in some parts of the world threatens not only one country , but also the Eurasian continent, Asia, and the SCO members."9. However, there was no reaction from President Hu Jintao to these words. And if the President of the Russian Federation V. Putin still voiced the Russian response the next day (on August 17, the day of the completion of the SCO anti-terrorist exercises "Peace Mission-2007" at the Russian military training ground Chebarkul, the Russian president announced the resumption of flights of Russian strategic aviation), then Beijing ignored this topic altogether.

Thus, in our opinion, the sixth SCO summit in Bishkek was largely used by the Chinese leadership, including to demonstrate Beijing's fundamental disinterest in turning the organization into a military bloc. And although the Chinese military took an active part in the" Peace Mission-2007 "(1.7 thousand soldiers, as well as G-9, Mi-17 helicopters and G-7A attack aircraft), the commander of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) group, Colonel General Xu Qilian, always tirelessly emphasized that " the exercises not directed against third countries " 10.

What were the primary goals of the Chinese leadership in Bishkek?


This became clear only after the end of the SCO summit itself, after Hu Jintao's visit to Kazakhstan. In Astana, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a number of large-scale energy contracts and, above all, a package of agreements on the construction of pipelines between Kazakhstan and China. According to these agreements, the construction of the second stage of the Atasu - Alashankou oil pipeline is envisaged. The pipeline, which has a capacity of 10 million tons per year, was finally completed in December 2005 and was the first pipeline to connect China with Central Asia. Then the work was carried out at a rapid pace (less than two years) and cost $806 million. This time, the second stage of the pipeline is supposed to connect China with Kazakhstan's fields in the Caspian Sea. The Chinese operator of the project will be the largest state oil and gas monopoly in China, the China National Oil and Gas Corporation (CNPC), which holds a strong position in this market after its purchase in August 2005 for $4.18 billion. PetroKazakhstan companies. As a handwriting feature-

page 16

Jian Zemin, the head of CNPC, said that the pipeline will be built and will operate at full capacity by 200911. And Nazarbayev assured the Chinese guest that oil production in the Caspian Sea will be fully launched in 201112.

During the same visit, an equally important agreement on the transportation of energy resources from Central Asia to China was signed. Hu Jintao and N. Nazarbayev agreed that the Turkmenistan - China gas pipeline will pass through Kazakhstan. The construction of this gas pipeline will be Beijing's second largest energy project in Central Asia.

Its implementation began back in April 2006, when the then President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov agreed in Beijing on the terms of a cooperation agreement that provided for the construction of a direct gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China and the annual supply of 30 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas. However, in December 2006, President Niyazov unexpectedly died, which cast doubt on the implementation of this agreement.

The new Turkmen president, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, in early 2007 firmly promised the then Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Fradkov, that Russia's Gazprom would have the pre-emptive right to import gas until 2028, since Niyazov did not have time to sign the agreement with the Chinese, and Ashgabat does not plan any new steps in this direction. As a result, in May 2007, the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan signed an agreement on the construction of the Caspian gas pipeline, which, according to Moscow, will finally link the Turkmen fuel and energy complex to Russia.

However, at the end of July 2007, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov paid his first visit to Beijing and together with Hu Jintao signed a production sharing agreement between the State Agency for Hydrocarbon Resources of Turkmenistan and CNPC on the Bagtyyarlyk gas field on the right bank of the Amu Darya River, which will become a raw material base for the construction of the Central Asia gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China. In addition, CNPC has signed a 30-year contract with Turkmengaz for the supply of 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually since 2009. At the same time, Beijing issued a soft loan to Ashgabat, which will be used to purchase 13 Chinese drilling rigs.


Thus, the Chinese president's trip to Central Asia allowed Beijing to conclude a number of fundamentally important agreements on the supply of energy resources vital for the growing Chinese economy. In fact, after this tour, Central Asia is turning into almost the key and most reliable link in the PRC's energy security system.

Of course, most of China's oil comes from the Middle East, as well as from Africa (the Black Continent provides a third of China's imported oil), but energy resources from these regions are transported to China by sea, which means that energy supplies can be significantly compromised. For example, in the event of a war in the Persian Gulf and Iran's blockade of the Strait of Hormuz, Beijing risks losing almost all of the Middle East's oil. And if any state blocks the Strait of Malacca, the PRC may completely lose energy carriers from both Africa and the Middle East. The search for bypass routes will increase the price of energy carriers and delay the time of their delivery to the coast of China. The alternatives developed by China (in particular, the supply of oil from Venezuela and liquefied natural gas from Australia) also cannot be considered reliable enough - after all, in these cases, transportation will go by sea.

That is why the transportation of energy resources through land trunk pipelines seems to Beijing the best guarantee of its own energy security. And there are only two potential energy resource bases for this-Eastern Siberia and Central Asia. All this time, Beijing has been working in both directions. So, back in March 2006, during his visit to Beijing, Vladimir Putin was present at the signing of memoranda on Russian energy supplies to China. However, the implementation of these ambitious projects is still hindered by many unresolved issues between Russian and Chinese state-owned companies, including, first of all, the issue of the price of supplies.

As practice shows, Central Asian leaders have turned out to be much more convenient and accommodating partners for Beijing. At least, this is evidenced by the successful launch of the Atasu - Alashankou oil pipeline. In this sense, the SCO seems to be an ideal mechanism for maintaining stability in the region, which meets Beijing's long-term interests. It is no coincidence that the Bishkek Declaration adopted at the end of the sixth SCO Summit notes that "stability and security in Central Asia can be ensured, first of all, by the forces of the states of this region on the basis of regional international organizations established in it"14.

1 (17.02.2007).

2 (01.08.2007).

3 (12.08.2007).

4 (09.08.2007).

5 (10.08.2007).

6 (16.08.2007).

7 RIA Novosti, 27.06.2007.

8 (23.05.2007).

9 (16.08.2007); Kommersant, 17.08.2007.

10 (14.08.2007).

11 (19.08.2007).

12 (19.08.2007).

13 (18.07.2007); (18.07.2007).

14 Document address on the official SCO website -


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