Open Forum

China, Japan and South Korea have regarded Central Asia (CA) as a new, and perhaps the last, Asian frontier in their foreign policies after the collapse of the Soviet Union.1 For all these states, CA represented an area where they had not been previously active. In addition, their foreign policies in this region, at least initially, did not have any new objectives but rather were focused on resolving the problems left as a legacy of CA’s Soviet past. It was not long, however, before other objectives rose to the fore. In the case of Uzbekistan, its change of leadership in 2016, leading to shifts in foreign as well as domestic policy, gave it an image of openness as the newest target within CA for meaningful economic initiatives. The scale of the initiatives may seem small, given the ambitious programs launched by China, Japan, and South Korea elsewhere. Even so, CA’s position at the crossroads of aspirations to re-conceptualize Eurasia and the role of Uzbekistan with its new president and large population as a force with unknown potential to lead in regional reorganization make it desirable to take a close look at plans for boosting bilateral ties.

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