Between Russia’s war in Ukraine and the strategic competition with China — and both heating up — Central Asia is now a region more important than ever for U.S. national and international security interests. While we are paying a lot of attention to China in the Indo-Pacific basin, we are almost totally neglecting its Eurasian dimension. Meanwhile, Beijing is taking advantage of a Russia weakened by war and sanctions in its efforts to become the dominant power in Central Asia.
Since the Chinese modus operandi is economic, it behooves us to help regional nations with political and economic resilience, particularly Uzbekistan. It was only six years ago that Tashkent began to shed a quarter of a century of isolationism following 115 years of Russian colonial rule.
The Uzbekistanis have made significant strides since late 2016, when current president Shavkat Mirziyoyev succeeded his predecessor Islam Karimov, who had ruled the country with an iron fist since before its independence from the Soviet Union. Mirziyoyev launched a major reform initiative seeking to connect his country with the global community. Towards this end, his government has been pursuing a structural economic modernization agenda.
Read more in The Hill.