On 27-28 June 2023, the “China-Central Asia Affairs: Perspectives from Junior Research Fellows” conference was held at the OSCE Academy. Junior Research Fellows (JRF) of the OSCE Academy presented their articles focused on China's presence in Central Asia as part of the project “Pilot Project for Central Asian Centre for China Affairs.”
Dr. Indira Satarkulova, Acting Director, opened the event by highlighting the work of the Research Fellows. Raffaello Pantucci, the conference moderator and a Senior Fellow at RUSI/RSIS, provided an overview of the project, which is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (www.ned.org).
On the first day of the conference, JRFs Adina Masalbekova, Dr. Berikbol Dukeyev, and Mukhammadsodik Donaev covered topics such as the Chinese presence in Uzbekistan, Generation Z's alertness towards China in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz students' views on the situation in Xinjiang, Kazakh history textbooks on the Xinjiang, and the EU in Central Asia within the context of Chinese influence. International experts, including Dr. Dilini Pathirana, Senior Lecturer at the University of Colombo, Dr. Erman Akıllı, Director of Foreign Affairs Office at Kırşehir Ahi Evran University, Dr. Jabin T. Jacob, Associate Professor at Shiv Nadar University, and Akram Umarov, Deputy Director at the Institute for Advanced International Studies (IAIS), provided a view on China’s engagement in Central Asia, and its relations with India, Sri Lanka, and Turkiye from the perspective of Global South. The keynote lecture was delivered by Catherine Putz, Managing Editor at The Diplomat, on "Central Asia-China: Interests, Priorities, and Geopolitics."
On the second day, JRFs shared their research on Chinese education in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan’s history classrooms about China, Kyrgyz exchange students’ experiences, and China in Uzbek media. Providing a Western perspective, Dr. Plamen Tonchev, Head of Asia Unit at the Athens - based Institute of International Economic Relations (IIER), Catherine Putz, Managing Editor at The Diplomat, Dr. Brian Carlson, Head of the Global Security Team of the Think Tank at the Center for Security Studies (CSS), Frank Maracchione, Co-convener of Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute, explored the viewpoints of the US and Europe on China's role in Central Asia, examining the opportunities for engagement or places where confrontation is more likely. Dr. Jabin T. Jacob, Associate Professor at Shiv Nadar University, gave a keynote speech titled "Civilization’ and History (Re)Writing in Chinese Foreign Policy."