Kazakhstan lodges protest with China over article questioning its sovereignty

By Kanat Altynbayev

The Chinese and Kazakh flags are raised during a medal ceremony for the women's shooting double trap final at the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia, August 23, 2018. Kazakhstan sent China a note of protest in response to an article titled 'Why Kazakhstan Is Eager to Return to China' that appeared on the website [Adek Berry/AFP]

The Chinese and Kazakh flags are raised during a medal ceremony for the women's shooting double trap final at the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia, August 23, 2018. Kazakhstan sent China a note of protest in response to an article titled 'Why Kazakhstan Is Eager to Return to China' that appeared on the website [Adek Berry/AFP]

NUR-SULTAN -- The Kazakh government lodged a protest with China Tuesday (April 14) over an article on a Chinese website that claims the country historically is part of China and seeks to "return" to its neighbour.

The Kazakh Foreign Ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador after the article, titled "Why Kazakhstan Is Eager to Return to China," was published on the privately owned Chinese website, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)'s Kazakh service reported April 14.

The article's author called into question Kazakhstan's sovereignty over its own territory, asserting that the land is historically Chinese and that "Kazakhstan was a vassal of the Qing Dynasty".

"Residents of small cities in Kazakhstan consider themselves descendants of Li Bai [an eighth-century Chinese poet], while others call themselves Han [the largest ethnic group in China],'" added the article. The article did not name the cities in question.

During an April 14 meeting between First Deputy Foreign Minister Shakhrat Nuryshev and China's ambassador to Kazakhstan, Zhang Xiao, Nuryshev lodged a protest over the article, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Muted Chinese reaction

In a Facebook post about the meeting, the Chinese ambassador shied away from discussing the article. An "emphasis was placed on the importance of eradicating false stories from the information landscape in order to create favourable conditions for the sake of deepening the relationship between the two countries," said the ambassador.

Several followers reacted to the post by clicking on the "Angry" button.

Relations between the two countries have been strained as authorities in Xinjiang, China, over the past few years have placed hundreds of thousands of Muslims, including ethnic Kazakhs, into indoctrination camps.

At least 1.5 million ethnic Kazakhs live in the region, representing the second-largest Turkic group there after the Uighurs.

"Sometimes [the true source of an article] sounds out an audience's reaction by putting out a private opinion," Kazbek Beisebayev, an Almaty-based political analyst with 18 years of experience working at the Foreign Ministry and on diplomatic missions in Europe, wrote on Facebook.

"Of course, you could say that an article on this Chinese site represents a private opinion, but knowing the role and place of government agencies and the Communist Party in the Chinese media, it's hard to believe that," Beisebayev said.

"Summoning the ambassador and handing him a note of protest are an extreme action. It's a step that is usually taken when tensions between countries have flared up," he added.

Beisebayev noted that a comparable situation played out in February 2014 with Russia. Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry sent a note after Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a member of the Russian parliament, publicly called for the annexation of the Central Asian states, including Kazakhstan, by Russia.

The Kazakh diplomats did the right thing in lodging an official protest, said Baurzhan Tolegenov, a political commentator from Nur-Sultan.

"It was an excellent way to communicate to China that we are not striving to move toward it and also to make this clear to Kazakhs," he said.

"The issue of Beijing's policy in Kazakhstan is quite distressing for our society, which reacts nervously to even purely private Chinese claims," Tolegenov said.

The fallout over the article demonstrated that anti-Chinese sentiment in recent years is spurring the government in Nur-Sultan to be proactive and take preventive steps to safeguard the country's national interests, he said.

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8 Comment(s)

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Khazakstan is not China! Khazakstan is independent! China has no right to a single centimeter of Khazak territory


I stand with china, and I think they are right to claim it, the north and eastern part of Central Asia are Chinese land, and the south and western part of are Iranian/Persian lands.


Please elaborate how central Asia is Chinese?


How are they exactly Chinese land?

Just because China attacked them and took over them for a small period of time in history doesn't mean that they are rightfully Chinese.

Thats a stupid argument


[We] need to close the border with China, and terminate every agreement signed with them. Expel every single Chinese from KAZAKHSTAN and not let them back in. [We] should sue them in the International Court for the genocide unfolding in East Turkestan against the INDIGENOUS TURKIC PEOPLES (Kazakhs, Uighurs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, and Tatars), and initiate an economic blockade against China. Withdraw all foreign enterprises from China to KAZAKHSTAN. Ban exports of goods and raw materials to China, and imports from the PRC. Recognize East Turkestan, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong as independent states. Re-settle all Chinese from East Turkestan, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia to China's inner regions. Expel the Chinese from all countries. Ban the Chinese language everywhere outside China. Expel China from the UN Security Council.


and you can do that, all by yourself?
Do you need help with those? just asking!


The Chinese should be forced out of Central Asia. And the Russians will leave by themselves under Russia's program to resettle its compatriots.


Don't look at their smiles; there's cobra-like behaviour behind that smile and the proposed finances. When Sharof Rashidov was president, China and India came here but for some reason left fast. And do laser installation on the roofs and microchipping tell you anything? Look at the passports; there are our codes printed, or look at your red palms and wrists. Blood vessels get clogged, fingers are numb - it's a circulatory capillary collapse because of the increased radiation levels of your mobile phones. Test them for the radioactivity of the laser beam if it's more than 148 units. Yes, they are slowly killing us, and they did spread the virus. Is that possible our State Security Service and people themselves can't see why mahalla is needed; why there's no youth watch associated with mahalla, and the state controls organisations? There are 20-year-old and older lads on duty in the neighbourhoods like Timur teams helping elders, going to pharmacies for them, sweeping floors and buying food. I was delighted when our president opened a social centre if I'm not mistaken. I passed all my knowledge on to the youth. According to the president's order, we elders are the children of war. Everything will be fine if young people start listening to us. I forgot to say: where is 13% zakat? They should give it to people or organise social help by a weekly distribution of essential food. They should give every billionaire a list because if you look at those who died from the coronavirus, ma