Kazakhstan’s Leverage and Economic Diversification amid Chinese Connectivity Dreams

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-822
Journal / PublicationThird World Quarterly
Issue number4
Online published17 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022



Since its independence, Kazakhstan has adopted a multi-vectorism approach to balance various great powers, especially between Russia and China. Despite extensive theorization of such foreign policy, scholarly research has rarely investigated beyond diplomatic power dynamics. Based on a systematic search of China’s joint projects in Kazakhstan in the past 30 years, this paper illuminates several unexpected developmental intricacies based on Kazakhstan’s multi-vectorism, its geo-strategic location, the availability of oil-driven sovereign wealth funds, and the public pressure for more responsible industrial policies: 1) China’s ambition to connect to the West has unintentionally amplified Kazakhstan’s multi-vector bargaining power; 2) Kazakhstan’s industrial policies, supported by various financial tools backed by its oil-driven sovereign wealth funds, are integral to its multi-sector economic development and diversification of exports to include more high-value intermediate and consumer goods; 3) shown via a case study on Kazakhstan’s agricultural development, initial state-level negotiation and sub-national implementation, coupled with a mix of Sinophobic and Sinophilic sentiments, have led to a nuanced path of economic diversification. Given the authoritarian legacy in both China and Kazakhstan, empirical research to compare industry-specific development variations would be enlightening for developing economies to design optimal paths to leverage China’s rising dream and capital.

Research Area(s)

  • China, Kazakhstan, Belt and Road Initiative, multi-vectorism, agriculture

Bibliographic Note

Information for this record is provided by the author(s) concerned.

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