Kazakhstan is providing higher wages, more rights protection, and an environment of respect -- all in stark contrast to what migrant workers face in Russia.
The light rail project in Kazakhstan is just the latest infrastructure programme financed by China to have gone sour in Central Asia.
The country could become politically and economically dependent on Russia should it join the bloc, warn economists and political analysts.
In the latest case, Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia's food safety watchdog, cited Kazakh company Becker & K for 'undeclared trace DNA levels' in its meat products.
Although Beijing claims its Belt and Road Initiative will bring prosperity, the project 'is ultimately a vehicle for China's geopolitical ambitions'.
Regulations set by the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union (EACU) would allow Russian milk producers to monopolise Kazakhstan's milk market.
The Beyneu-Akzhigit-Uzbek border highway comes amid closer trade, transport and energy ties.
'Everyone understands that it's beneficial to be friends with neighbours,' said one observer, speaking about the recent high-level meetings between Central Asian countries.
The loan is a vote of confidence in Uzbekistan's reforms.
American investments contribute significantly to the Kazakh economy, officials and analysts in Nur-Sultan say.