[PAST EVENT] 30 Years of Kazakhstan: From the USSR to the Belt and Road Initiative

December 14, 2021
8am - 10am
Access & Features
  • Open to the public
  • Registration/RSVP

China has long viewed South and Central Asian countries as a strategic priority, where building relationships and winning goodwill are vital to securing its economic, geopolitical, and security interests.

On the occasion of Kazakhstan’s 30th anniversary of independence, you are cordially invited to the launch AidData’s latest Policy Report "Corridors of Power: How China Creates Economic, Social, and Network Ties to Exert Influence Along the Silk Road," followed by a panel discussion by the experts in the field about China’s growing presence in Central Asia and Kazakhstan. The discussion also will address the BRI in Central Asia and Kazakhstan, adding expert opinions to support the report from a regional standpoint. The event will take place in a hybrid format (zoom, plus limited capacity for in-person participation). This AidData event is being organized in partnership with KIMEP University and W&M's Whole of Government Center of Excellence.

Participants will get an in-depth look at how Beijing has used a broad and diverse toolkit to cultivate economic and soft power influence in South and Central Asia over the last two decades. These events aim to spark discussions of what this means moving forward for countries in the region and rival powers such as India, Russia, and the United States.

We invite researchers, policymakers, practitioners, journalists, and all interested parties to attend in-person (Kazakhstan) or via zoom.


  • Samantha Custer (online), Director of Policy Analysis, AidData, William & Mary, United States
  • Nargis Kassenova, Senior Fellow and director of the Program on Central Asia at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies (Harvard University) and Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations and Regional Studies of KIMEP University (Almaty, Kazakhstan). She is the former founder and director of the KIMEP Central Asian Studies Center (CASC) and the China and Central Asia Studies Center (CCASC).
  • Dr. Elizabeth Wishnick, Professor of Political Science at Montclair State University.
  • Julie Yu-Wen Chen is Professor of Chinese Studies at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki, and Hosting Professor at the Department of Asian Studies at Palacky University (Czech Republic). 
  • Gaziza Shakhanova obtained her Ph.D. from Jan Masaryk Centre for International Studies at the University of Economics in Prague. She has worked for a number of Kazakh ministries and state-owned organizations and her research interests include the Russia-Central
  • Aigerim Toleukhanova is a freelance journalist and researcher with a focus on human rights, media freedom and Central Asia. Until recently, she worked as a digital editor with RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service. Before joining RFE/RL in 2019, Toleukhanova worked as a freelance video journalist for Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, and contributed to stories related to Kazakhstan and China for The Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, BBC, The Independent, and other media outlets.