15 February, 2010

China in Kazakhstan

ALMATY – The Kazakh opposition parties All-National Social Democratic Azat Party (ANSDAP) and Alga, along with the Talmas civic movement, protested in Almaty January 30 against any transfer of Kazakh land to foreign investors, especially to China. Some 2,000 demonstrators gathered in the square next to the Sari-Aka theatre for the hour-long rally as police looked on.

In 2009 Kazakhstan received a US$10 billion loan from China. Shortly thereafter, the Chinese National Petroleum Company received a 50 percent stake in Mangistaumunaigas, which controls a third of Kazakhstan’s retail petroleum product market, Kommersant.ru reported.

China’s increasing presence in Kazakhstan, already a matter of public concern, gained more attention last December when Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev stated that Chinese agricultural producers might be able to lease land.

“Good neighbourly relations with China are important to us but not at the expense of our interests”, Kommersant.ru quoted opposition leader Zharmahan Tuyakbai as saying during the protest. “Already almost 40 percent of our oil belongs to them. Now there’s a creeping expansion to occupy the land. With time, this will strongly affect our independence”.

Opposition leaders at the demonstration called for changes to property laws and voiced opposition to privatisation of land. They also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Karim Masimov’s government.

“Fifteen billion dollars of Chinese credits hangs over Kazakhstan”, proclaimed ANSDAP leader Bulat Abilov. “It’s time to put an end to the career of Masimov”.

Courtesy : Central Asia Online

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