National Commentaries

In many ways, Kazakhstan is the state outside China that is most impacted by what is happening in the Uyghur region today.  It has the largest Uyghur diaspora outside China, and ethnic Kazakhs are the largest group after Uyghurs to be subjected to the genocidal policies implemented by the Chinese state in the Uyghur region. In fact, there have been several instances where citizens of Kazakhstan have ended up in mass internment camps when visiting relatives in China. However, Kazakhstan has also pursued a foreign policy course over the last two decades that has made it increasingly dependent on China economically and, by extension, politically. This situation has put the state of Kazakhstan in a difficult position with regards to what is happening in the Uyghur region of China on which it borders. It is an issue that the state desperately wants to ignore, but also one it realistically cannot. While the state may be able to manage this situation by embracing ambiguity, it is also possible that events in the Uyghur region of China will further harden the long-held Sinophobia that has characterized Kazakh nationalism, which is a volatile political force in the country capable of eventually forcing the state’s hand on the issue.

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