China expanding security footprint in Central Asia

China expanding security footprint in Central Asia
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev (right) shakes hands with Chinese Public Security Minister Wang Xiaohong during a meeting in Tashkent in early April. /
By Eurasianet April 11, 2024

Uzbekistan and China are tightening security ties following a visit to Tashkent by Beijing’s top cop, Wang Xiaohong. 

During his Tashkent visit in early April, Wang, whose official title is minister of public security, held talks with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Interior Minister Pulat Bobojonov. The outcome was the signing of an enhanced security cooperation agreement covering 2024-25. 

In a statement laced with honorific jargon, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the two countries will strive to coordinate actions to combat the so-called “three evils” – terrorism, separatism and religious extremism. In addition, they intend to join forces to combat transnational criminal activity.

“China also aims to strengthen law enforcement capacity to build a solid security barrier for common development, which will make more contributions to developing an all-weather, comprehensive strategic partnership” between Tashkent and Beijing, according to the Xinhua report.

The Uzbek presidential press service offered a more expansive take on the cooperation agreement. In addition to fighting terrorism and extremism, Uzbek authorities said the two countries’ security forces will hold “joint events” and conduct trainings for “qualified specialists,” according to a report published by Closer cooperation will also entail the sharing of information technologies and investigative methods.

An Uzbek Interior Ministry statement described bilateral security cooperation as already robust and set to become stronger. “The exchange of information and mutual experience between [Uzbek and Chinese] ministries, advanced training of personnel, and bilateral visits are intensively carried out,” quoted the statement as saying. Xinhua, meanwhile, quoted Wang as saying Chinese-Uzbek relations were enjoying a “golden era.”

The Interior Ministry noted that expanded security cooperation will extend to combatting drug trafficking and other forms of transnational crime, as well as fighting cybercrime and improving digital forensic capabilities. In addition, the two countries will explore establishing a joint Research Institute of Criminology.

This article first appeared on Eurasianet here.