The essay summarizes a recent reporting trip by the author to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan for the BBC, during which he examined the reasons for and observed the practical impact of China’s growing influence in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. The author provides a firsthand account of the scale and scope of Beijing’s economic and, to a lesser extent, cultural investment in the region and of the way that local society is reacting to the changes. The essay also considers what the effects are for the traditional regional power, Russia, and looks at the Kremlin’s response to the arrival of China as a major player in Central Asia.

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