09ASTANA235, KAZAKHSTANI ACADEMICS DISCUSS RELATIONS WITH CHINA,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA235 2009-02-10 01:39 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO6832
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW
RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNEH RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHROV
RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #0235/01 0410139
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 100139Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4563
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1149
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0546
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1252
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0723
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0639
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 000235 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD, DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL SOCI KPAO KDEM CH KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTANI ACADEMICS DISCUSS RELATIONS WITH CHINA, 
WELCOME OBAMA'S ELECTION, EXPRESS DIVERGENT VIEWS ON DEMOCRACY 
 
1.  (U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for public Internet. 
 
2.  (SBU) SUMMARY:  In December, PolOff met with several academics 
from one of Kazakhstan's most prestigious universities, Al-Farabi 
National University in Almaty.  PolOff's interlocutors stressed the 
importance of Kazakhstan's balancing closer ties with China and 
Central Asian countries with deeper ties with Russia and Europe. 
The academics welcomed Barack Obama's victory in the U.S. 
presidential elections, but believed an Obama administration would 
not significantly change the U.S.-Kazakhstani relationship.   They 
expressed dramatically different points of view concerning 
Kazakhstan's progress on democratization, but agreed that the 
opposition is ineffective.  They thanked the Embassy for its support 
of Al-Farabi's programs.  END SUMMARY. 
 
CHINESE FOREIGN POLICY IS LIKE A PLUM 
 
3.  (SBU) In December, PolOff met with several academics from one of 
Kazakhstan's most prestigious universities, Al-Farabi National 
University in Almaty.  Professor Seifulla Sapanov, an expert on 
Kazakhstan-China relations, told PolOff that China is striving 
quietly, primarily through commerce, to gain influence in Central 
Asia.  This quiet strategy helps China avoid conflict with Russia. 
According to Sapanov, Chinese companies have acquired stakes in a 
large percentage of Kazakhstani oil companies.  He said that because 
it is cheaper for Kazakhstan to purchase many goods from China than 
produce them domestically, this has caused a huge Kazakhstan-China 
trade imbalance, which President Nazarbayev has highlighted in a 
number of his speeches. 
 
4.  (SBU) China and Kazakhstan, Sapanov argued, have also pursued 
their mutual interests in closely monitoring the activities of 
potential separatist movements, especially among the Uighurs. 
According to Sapanov, China has built a far more cooperative 
political relationship with Kazakhstan than with any other Central 
Asian country.  Sapanov noted in particular that China cut off 
financial assistance to Uzbekistan after the Andijon uprising, and 
relations between Kyrgyzstan and China have cooled in the last few 
years over Uighur issues. 
 
5.  (SBU) Despite the more positive Kazakhstani-Chinese 
relationship, however, Sapanov argued that analysts often 
underestimate tensions underlying the areas of cooperation.  Sapanov 
cited as an example the difficulties in finalizing a 
Kazakhstan-China agreement on trans-boundary rivers.  Sapanov also 
claimed that Chinese foreign policy is "clever, but not 
transparent," and therefore Kazakhstani political leaders do not 
really trust agreements made with China.  Professor Fatima Kukeyeva, 
Chair of Al-Farabi's International Relations and Foreign Policy 
Department agreed, and stated that "Chinese policy is like a plum, 
soft at first, and harder later." 
 
"EURASIAN" IDENTITY 
 
6.  (SBU) Aliya Kafayeva, an Al-Farabi expert who has authored works 
on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as well as on Kazakhstan's 
relations with China and India, dismissed the importance of Central 
Asia to Kazakhstan.  "Senate Chairman Tokayev is interested in a 
policy of a Greater Central Asia," commented Kafayeva, "but 
Kazakhstan has a long history of living with Russia and is going to 
be OSCE Chairman-in-Office.  We should be getting closer to Europe, 
and pursuing a Greater Central Asia policy will push us away from 
Russia and Europe."  Kukeyeva agreed, noting that Kazakhstan's 
neighbors do not recognize it as Asian or Central Asian; therefore 
Kazakhstan, which has geographical and cultural ties to both Asia 
and Europe, must develop its own uniquely "Eurasian" identity.  "We 
must not neglect the European Union," Kukeyeva maintained. 
 
OPTIMISM ABOUT OBAMA, BUT NO MAJOR CHANGES EXPECTED 
 
7.  (SBU) PolOff's Al-Farabi interlocutors were by and large 
surprised, but pleased, that Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential 
elections.  They said they were very interested in how U.S. policies 
would change in the Obama administration, and how other countries' 
 
ASTANA 00000235  002 OF 003 
 
 
policies would change in response.  Mariam Buzurtanova, an expert on 
U.S. relations with the United Nations, told PolOff that even though 
she expects a Democratic administration to be m
ore willing to work 
with the UN and make multilateral commitments, the United States has 
historically demonstrated a reluctance to delegate its right to use 
force.  Buzurtanova noted that Obama will have to focus on a number 
of domestic issues, and thus she did not expect a dramatic shift in 
U.S. foreign policy, particularly concerning Kazakhstan, at least 
within the first few years.  Albina Salimbayeva, a post-graduate 
scholar researching U.S. non-proliferation policies, also doubted 
that Obama's victory would significantly alter U.S.-Kazakhstani 
relations, commenting that nether Obama nor John McCain had 
mentioned Central Asia extensively during their campaigns.  Kukeyeva 
said that although she had hoped Obama would win, the Bush 
administration and specifically U.S.-Kazakhstan cooperation on the 
war on terror "had been good for Kazakhstan."  She pointed out that 
for many countries, including Kazakhstan, security concerns which 
might arise from a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq could 
be "problematic," but also remarked that America's image had 
improved "dramatically" with Obama's election. 
 
DEMOCRACY IS LIKE PREGNANCY 
 
8.  (SBU) PolOff's interlocutors expressed strikingly different 
views on Kazakhstan's success in democratizing.  Kukeyeva, the most 
senior by position and age, was actually the most critical, stating 
that "some claim that Kazakhstan is open to democratic processes, 
but that is not the case."  As she put it, "democratization is like 
pregnancy, you cannot be partly pregnant or partly democratic, 
either you are, or you are not."  In sharp contrast, the youngest 
and most junior scholar, Salimbayeva, said, "Kazakhstan is 
democratic enough.  Different countries have different democracies, 
and Western countries must respect this."  Kafayeva offered a middle 
perspective, noting that Kazakhstan has been independent for only 16 
years, and is "on the way."  She suggested Kazakhstan could provide 
proof of its democratic credentials in its conduct as OSCE Chair. 
Buzurtanova told PolOff that one of the most significant problems 
for democratization is the weakness of the opposition.  All the 
academics agreed that the general populace does not trust or respect 
the opposition because they are perceived to be representatives of 
narrow interest groups, incapable of uniting people behind any 
ideology.  Kukeyeva called them a "pocket opposition."  Most people 
in Kazakhstan "vote for security," Kukeyeva argued, explaining that 
political instability in Iraq had not been a good advertisement for 
democratization. 
 
PRO-AMERICAN ACADEMIC APPRECIATES OUR ASSISTANCE 
 
9.  (SBU) Kukeyeva is a prominent and avowedly pro-American academic 
in her late fifties, who participated in exchange programs with the 
University of Alabama-Birmingham in 1994 and 1998, conducted 
research at Valdosta State University in Georgia in 2001, and was a 
Fulbright Senior Scholar.  She has published a monograph entitled 
"International Organizations in the Modern World" in English, and 
has taught courses on U.S. history, foreign policy, and the history 
of international relations.  In addition to serving as the Chair of 
the International Relations and Foreign Policy Department at 
Al-Farabi, Kukeyeva leads the university's Resource Center for 
American and Democratic Studies (RCADS).  Kukeyeva told PolOff that 
the resource center seeks to identify anti-American groups and 
provide them with exposure to pro-American ideas and sources of 
information. 
 
10.  (SBU) Kukeyeva thanked the Embassy and the Embassy's Branch 
Office in Almaty for their support, emphasizing that thanks to U.S. 
support, RCADS has conducted lectures and conferences, and American 
professors have taught at Al-Farabi and have led special summer 
programs.  Kukeyeva reiterated that although Al-Farabi's 
International Relations and Foreign Policy Department has a short 
history and only 400 students, it is particularly important because 
many of its graduates go on to work for the Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs, with a number of the remainder going on to academic 
institutions, international organizations, and foreign businesses. 
Kukeyeva said that the students are very talented, since the 
 
ASTANA 00000235  003 OF 003 
 
 
Department only selects students who scored well on the national 
examination, and students must know at least one Eastern and one 
Western language.  Beginning in the second year, students select a 
specialization in one of several countries, such as China, India, or 
the United States.  Kukeyeva noted with concern that several years 
ago, most students selected U.S. studies, but now China and India 
account for 30 percent. 
 
HOAGLAND

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