DHARAMSALA, Jan 18: The biggest public protest to date in Central Asia against Beijing’s growing influence in the region has taken place in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
As many as 250 Kyrgyz people attended the protest against the rising Chinese presence in the central square in Bishkek yesterday and demanded curbs on work permits for Chinese citizens as well as a reduction of Kyrgyz debt to China and called for other measures to reduce the Chinese presence, including a ban on Kyrgyz-Chinese marriages, the Reuters reported.
According to the report, Kyrgyz police have detained more than a dozen people after the rally ran beyond its allotted time and dozens of protesters started moving toward a building which houses the president and parliament.
It is being reported that the anti-Chinese sentiment has grown in the former Soviet republic of six million people since an incident at Bishkek’s main power plant a year ago caused a five-day blackout following its upgrade carried out by a Chinese firm.
The firm has not been officially charged with any wrongdoing yet, the report added.
Further, the reports of mass detentions of ethnic Kyrgyz – alongside fellow Turkic Muslims such as Uighurs and Kazakhs is said to have incensed the hostility toward Beijing among the Kyrgyz.
However, the Kyrgyz First Deputy Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov has said in a statement that protesters had been misled by fear mongering and that the annual net influx of Chinese to Kyrgyzstan had been below 1,000 people in the last two years.
Meanwhile, more and more countries are waking up from China’s debt-trap disguised in its controversial Belt and Road Initiative.
Kyrgyzstan reportedly has a contract with a state-run Chinese bank for a power plant in the capital of Bishkek that includes a clause giving Beijing control of wide-ranging assets if the country defaults on its repayments according to Nikkei Asian Review.
Additionally, China is also said to be demanding concessions in negotiations for railway construction funding in the Kyrgyzstan.