“The Sleeping Dragon Is Gathering Strength”: Causes of Sinophobia in Central Asia
China Quarterly of International Strategic Studies
Reason for embargo
In order to explore the roots of contemporary Sinophobia in Central Asia, this article combines historical analysis with ethnographically informed interviews. It shows that Sinophobia is widely spread through conspiracy theories especially in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Based on the territorial acquisitions made by China in the immediate post-Soviet period, conspiracy theories suggest that China is planning to “take over” Central Asia. However, a diachronic view of relations between China and Central Asian states demonstrates that these acquisitions were part of an attempt to resolve colonial disputes dating back to the late 19th century, and that China has already significantly reduced its territorial claims. Fears of contemporary Chinese territorial expansion are therefore greatly exaggerated. This article concludes by endorsing a proactive stance on tackling Sinophobia in Central Asia, both for the Chinese government and for regional states. Other than the many economic initiatives it funds in Central Asia, China must put more efforts to enhance its soft power so as to assuage the century-long Sinophobia in the region.
The fieldwork presented in this article was conducted through the UK-based Economic and Social Research Council research project “Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia” (ES/J013056/1).
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from World Scientific via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 3 (1), pp. 101 - 119