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Symbolic pipes with a sign that reads "Turkmenistan—China" on exhibit at the Bagtyyarlyk natural gas field, Turkmenistan, Aug. 29, 2007 (AP photo by Alexander Vershinin).

In the Race for Central Asia’s Gas, China’s Rise Comes at Russia’s Expense

Friday, Jan. 26, 2018

Continued attempts at developing a natural gas pipeline linking Central Asian exporters with markets in Europe have fallen apart, leaving the region dependent on exports to either Russia or China. While the United States has helped countries in Central Asia balance geopolitically, some now believe the U.S. will drift from its engagement in the region as part of the Trump administration’s “America First” foreign policy. Last week, Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, became the first Central Asian head of state to visit President Donald Trump in the White House, in a likely effort to shore up ties. In an email interview, Morena Skalamera, an associate at the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard’s Belfer Center, examines the competition over Central Asia’s gas resources and its geopolitical consequences.

WPR: Where does the competition over the past decade between Russia, China and the European Union for Central Asia’s gas reserves currently stand, in terms of signed supply and pipeline deals? ...

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