Reviews

This book is a must read on the Chinese – Central Asian relations after 1991. It covers political, diplomatic and economic relations between China and the five Central Asian states from 1991 to 2001. With thousands of references (including numerous Chinese sources), the book is definitely one of the best references on Chinese – Central Asian relations after independence and demonstrates how, in one decade, China has become one of the predominant powers for the future of Central Asia. The book is divided into four parts: The first one presents the importance of Xinjiang in Chinese – Central Asian relations; the second explains how Beijing handles with the Xinjiang’s “separatism” risk and has put the autonomous region at the core of its relations with Central Asian states; the third presents the political, economic and energy relations between China and Central Asia and the last part is dedicated to border and water-sharing issues. The second part is of high interest: It demonstrates how Beijing has bet on Xinjiang’s increased economic integration with Central Asia in order to achieve economic prosperity in the autonomous region to ensure stability and thwart separatism. In this context, it is worth noting the central role of the XPCC (Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps), which accounts for the bulk of Chinese – Central Asian trade (around 40% of total trade). This “company”, which has a workforce of over 2 million (of which 90% are Han), is one of the largest in China and in the world. We can also note how relevant is the part four with a clear description of the border and water-sharing issues between China and Central Asia. In this part, T. Kellner rightly demonstrates how the water dispute between China and Kazakhstan could have an increasingly negative impact on the relations between both countries. In conclusion, the book is to be read for anybody interested in Chinese – Central Asian relations. We can only regret two things: (1) there is a need of a second book after Sept. 11, 2001 to assess continuity and change in these relations; (2) an English translation would be welcome for more widely disseminating the painstaking and rigorous research that the author has been undertaking on this topic.

Gaël Raballand, Observatory of Post-Soviet States, Paris
CER: II-7.1-568