A Comparative Analysis of East Asia and Central Asia
1.1 Research scope 1.1.1 Central Asia after 20 years of transition In the scientific literature on the political and economic development of Central Asia, there are few historical events that are referred to as frequently as the “Great Game”. This term stands for the rivalry over the control of the region be- tween the British and Russian Empires that started at the beginning of the 19th century and lasted for approximately 100 years. In earlier centuries, Central Asia had been among the scientifically, culturally and economically most advanced regions in the world. However, the khanates that ruled over the Central Asians at the beginning of this Great Game were far from being on par with the European powers regarding economic, technological or military aspects. Central Asia was not an active player in the Great Game, it was its target. For those that inhabit the five countries of Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Uz- bekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan—the Great Game ended with Russian and later Soviet domination. The following decades of foreign rule had a profound impact on the region’s economy and culture. Today, more than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, both scholars and political journalists have started to write about a new great game in Central Asia with different contenders, in particular China and the United States (see Edwards, 2003; Klevemann, 2003; Menon, 2003; and the articles in the collective volume of Laruelle, Huchet, Peyrouse, & Balci, 2010). Yet, maybe the biggest differ- ence between the current...
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