China launched the “Belt and Road” in 2014 to counter Western countries led by the United States and the European Union in an attempt to expand its international influence through infrastructure development. Kazakh exile leader Serikzhan Bilash told Eat News that many Kazakh intellectuals, including himself, suspect that the Chinese Communist Party uses state-owned enterprises to cover secretly stationing armed personnel in Kazakhstan.
55 factories, 55 military bases
Serikzhan told us that China began to arrange for central enterprises to enter Kazakhstan for “investment” around 2018 and further opened a route from Chengdu to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, in 2020. At the time, many intellectuals discovered that the so-called “staff” of these Chinese state-owned enterprises, including China National Petroleum Corporation and Sinopec, who were going to Kazakhstan, might have been secretly armed Chinese personnel. Serikzhan said that the official list of state-owned enterprises in Kazakhstan was already 55, and he suspected that there might be more state-owned enterprises that were not on the official list.
Is the Netherlands the largest creditor of Kazakhstan?
According to Kazakh online news media Kapital last year, the size of Kazakhstan’s foreign debt reached US$159.8 billion, with the largest debtors being the Netherlands (US$44.8 billion), the United Kingdom (US$21.7 billion), the United States (US$13 billion), France (US$11.6 billion) and China (US$10.2 billion), meaning that China’s debt only accounts for about 6% of Kazakhstan’s total loans. But is this figure truth?
Serikzhan says it’s a scam. He questioned, “In which other country has the Netherlands made such a significant investment and loan other than in Kazakhstan?” Serikzhan accused the “Nur Otan” (Light of the Fatherland) ruling party of monopolizing the rich natural resources in Kazakhstan. After misappropriating money, it may transfer the funds to the Netherlands and then back to Kazakhstan. He also questioned why many Chinese companies are using their Dutch business status to invest in Kazakhstan, as most of the Dutch companies in Kazakhstan are managed by Chinese.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2020 figures, Kazakhstan ranks 12th globally in oil production. Still, according to the World Bank’s survey, Kazakhstan’s gross domestic product in 2019 ranked only 54th in the world, and its GDP per capita ranked only 74th in the world. Serikzhan believes that this is because the Kazakh government sells oil to the Chinese Communist Party at very low prices, but never discloses that information to its own people.
Facing two generations of the communist regime in Kazakhstan
This is not the first time that Kazakhstan has come under the control of a foreign communist regime. Before 1991, Kazakhstan was a transcontinental constituent republic of the Soviet Union. Faced with two generations of the communist regime’s rule over Kazakhstan, Serikzhan insisted that the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of China are one family, “They are all atheists. They started armed uprisings and seized power through violent means. The history of both the Soviet Communist Party and the Chinese Communist Party is full of bloody repression.” Serikzhan recalls that after the Russians took control of Kazakhstan, they carried out artificial famines and massacres in 1916-1917, followed by the Soviets doing the same in 1921-1922, and 1931-1933, killing more than 8 million people in total.
In the eyes of many scholars, the three artificial famines were caused by the Russians’ fear of the independence of the Kazakh and Ukrainian peoples from the Soviet Union. Serikzhan cited historical documents that the Soviets used the KGB to conduct house-to-house searches in the Kazakh territory and forced the Kazakhs to collect their food, gather livestock and slaughter them, and put them on trains to Russia.
According to the Soviet census, the Kazakhs were the dominant ethnic group in Kazakhstan until 1939. But due to three artificial famines, the Kazakhs were fewer in number than the Russians in the 1939s. Had it not been for the three massacres,” Serikzhan said, “the Kazakhs today would have numbered 80 million or even 100 million people, on a par with Russia.”
The Communist Party of Kazakhstan continues its dictatorial rule with a new costume
Despite Kazakhstan’s independence in 1991, the history of Soviet persecution has never been officially commemorated or written down in textbooks. Serikzhan believes that the shadow of the Kazakh Communist Party has never really disappeared in Kazakhstan.
The president of Kazakhstan from 1991 to 2018 was Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was the First Secretary of the Kazakh Communist Party during the Soviet Union, and who stepped down in 2018 in the face of mass protests but continues to hold the post of Chairman of the Kazakhstan Security Council. Serikzhan believes, “Nazarbayev is creating a show for the people, he is still behind the scenes, and our second president [Kassym-Jomart Tokayev] is just a puppet.”
Serikzhan also mentioned that the Kazakh government’s approach to governance in recent years has become more and more like that of the Chinese Communist Party. In addition, the ruling party “Nur Otan” (Light of the Fatherland) has established five to six puppet parties which feign independence but support the incumbent president in every election, a system modeled after the Chinese Communist Party. And they have classified the two genuine opposition parties as extremist organizations and arrested their members on a large scale.
A few years ago, Serikzhan founded Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights (Father’s Home Kazakh Human Rights), an organization based in Kazakhstan concerned with ethnic Kazakh human rights in Xinjiang, but not only was his registration with the Kazakh government repeatedly rejected, Serikzhan was even arrested, detained, and placed under house arrest in another city on charges of “illegal organization.” In addition, pro-China activists have taken the opportunity to confuse the public by registering an organization with the same name and announcing that “there are no concentration camps in Xinjiang.”
Finally, Serikzhan told us that Kazakhstan’s major cities had been filled with Chinese real time surveillance cameras, known as Hikvision monitors, and what’s more, these monitors were installed after Nazarbayev went to China to sign an agreement with Hikvision. He cited an example of the horrors of Chinese surveillance. He said, “One winter, there was a massive traffic accident in Kazakhstan that killed many people, and before the Kazakh media reported it, the Chinese press did.”
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