China Edging Russia out of Central Asia

My latest with The Diplomat examines the massive investment, under the rubric of the Silk Road Fund, China has pledged to Central Asia - and the paltry response Russia has offered:

Among the foremost recipients of Chinese largesse – and one of the primary nations whose underlying economics are pivoting from Moscow to Beijing – is Tajikistan. As Tajik Deputy Finance Minister Jamoliddin Nuraliev recently told Financial Times, China will be investing at least $6 billion in Tajikistan’s infrastructure through 2017. Not only is the figure nearly 70 percent of Tajikistan’s 2013 GDP, but, per FT, it is “more than 40 times [Tajikistan’s] annual foreign direct investment.”

And this is where Russia’s economic misadventures come into play. While at one point approximately half of Tajikistan’s GDP came from remittances of migrant labor in Russia, the number has begun dropping – with officials estimating that the rate has fallen by as much as 20 percent over the past few months. As Nuraliev noted, “We are very much concerned about things happening in the Russian economy.” Moreover, when juxtaposed with China’s ten-figure proposal – set for pipeline expansion, as well as cement and rail investments – the recent Russian pledge of $6.7 million to Tajikistan looks that much more meager.