Foreign Policy Watch- India-Central Asia

Central Asia’s Multi-Vectored Foreign Policy: Lessons for Post-Soviet States


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: C+C5 summit and other such developments

Mains level: Central Asian countries complex dynamics and multi vectored foreign policy

Foreign Policy

Central Idea

  • China recently hosted the inaugural C+C5 summit in Xi’an, which brought together the leaders of five Central Asian countries. The summit resulted in the signing of the ‘Xi’an Declaration’ and emphasized the Belt and Road cooperation as a new starting point for China-Central Asia relations. However, the central Asian countries have successfully implemented a multi-vectored foreign policy, balancing their engagements with various regional and international powers.

What is C+C5 summit?

  • The C+C5 stands for China plus Central Asia, indicating the participation of both China and the five Central Asian nations, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • The purpose of the C+C5 summit is to strengthen the relations and cooperation between China and these Central Asian countries.
  • The first C+C5 summit took place in Xi’an, China, and resulted in the signing of the ‘Xi’an Declaration,’ which outlines the shared vision and goals for China-Central Asia cooperation.

Foreign Policy

Facts for prelims

G7 Summit Hiroshima

  • The 49th annual G7 Summit took place in Hiroshima. Japan hosted the summit in its capacity as the President of the G7.
  • Prime Minister Kishida’s commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation was evident through the choice of Hiroshima as the host city.
  • Prime Minister Modi attended the summit at the invitation of the Japanese Prime Minister.
  • The participating leaders issued a leaders’ communiqué on the second day of the summit. The communiqué will be adopted officially at the end of the summit on the 21st.
  • Current Members: US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan

Complex Regional Dynamics of Central Asian countries

  • Geopolitical Competition: China’s growing influence in Central Asia can be seen as a challenge to Russia’s historical dominance in the region. This geopolitical competition between the two powers shapes the dynamics of China-Central Asia relations.
  • Multi-vector Engagements: Central Asian countries pursue multi-vectored foreign policies, engaging with various regional and international powers. This approach allows them to maintain balanced relations and leverage different partnerships to their advantage.
  • Regional Cooperation Organizations: Central Asian countries are members of various regional cooperation organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). These organizations influence the dynamics of regional interactions and shape cooperation initiatives.
  • Economic Interests: China’s economic investments and infrastructure projects in Central Asia, driven by the Belt and Road initiative, have both positive and complex implications for the region. Balancing economic benefits with potential dependencies and competition is crucial for the Central Asian countries.
  • Historical and Cultural Connections: Central Asia shares historical and cultural ties with both China and Russia. These historical connections influence the perceptions, interactions, and priorities of the countries involved, impacting regional dynamics.
  • Balancing Global Engagements: Central Asian countries navigate their relationships with major global powers, including the European Union, the United States, and regional actors such as Turkey. Balancing these engagements is necessary to safeguard their interests and maintain stability in the region.
  • Afghanistan’s Impact: The situation in Afghanistan has implications for regional dynamics in Central Asia. Stability and security concerns in Afghanistan directly affect neighboring countries and influence their interactions with external powers.

Foreign Policy

Significance of C+C5: Strengthening China-Central Asia Relations

  • ‘Xi’an Declaration: The C+C5 summit held in Xi’an, China, served as a platform for leaders from China and the Central Asian countries to discuss and strengthen their bilateral relations. The summit resulted in the signing of the ‘Xi’an Declaration,’ which laid out a blueprint for future cooperation.
  • Belt and Road Cooperation: The summit focused on the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road initiative, emphasizing its role as a new starting point for China-Central Asia cooperation. The Belt and Road initiative aims to enhance connectivity and promote economic development through infrastructure projects.
  • Cultural Silk Road Program: The ‘Cultural Silk Road’ program was discussed during the summit, which aims to enhance cultural cooperation, preserve shared heritage, and promote cultural exchange between China and Central Asian countries.
  • China-Central Asia Summit Mechanism: The establishment of the China-Central Asia Summit mechanism during the summit paves the way for future biennial summits between the participating countries. This institutional framework ensures regular high-level engagement and facilitates ongoing cooperation.

Foreign Policy

Successes of a Multi-Vectored Foreign Policy

  • Diversified Economic Ties: Central Asian countries have successfully diversified their economic ties through a multi-vectored foreign policy. By engaging with multiple regional and international partners, they have expanded trade relations, attracted foreign investments, and accessed various markets.
  • Enhanced Diplomatic Influence: A multi-vectored foreign policy allows Central Asian countries to expand their diplomatic influence. By cultivating relationships with different actors, they can assert their interests, advocate for regional stability, and participate actively in international forums.
  • Balancing Regional Security: Central Asian countries have effectively balanced regional security concerns through multi-vectored foreign policies. By cooperating with different security organizations and partners, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and Russia, they have successfully managed common security challenges, including terrorism, extremism, and drug trafficking.
  • Preserving Sovereignty: Pursuing a multi-vectored foreign policy allows Central Asian countries to maintain their sovereignty and independence. By engaging with multiple actors, they prevent overreliance on any single power and safeguard their decision-making autonomy in international affairs.
  • Regional Cooperation Initiatives: Central Asian countries have actively participated in regional cooperation initiatives and organizations, such as the SCO and the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program.
  • Improved Resilience and Flexibility: Central Asian countries’ multi-vectored foreign policy has made them more resilient and adaptable in the face of changing geopolitical dynamics. By diversifying their partnerships, they can navigate shifting regional dynamics and respond effectively to evolving challenges and opportunities.
  • Peaceful Coexistence: The success of a multi-vectored foreign policy in Central Asia highlights the region’s ability to maintain peaceful coexistence among major regional and global powers. By pursuing balanced engagements, Central Asian countries contribute to stability, reduce tensions, and promote cooperation between different actors.


  • The C+C5 summit and the successful implementation of a multi-vectored foreign policy by Central Asian countries highlight the importance of balanced regional engagements. As Georgia and Moldova strive for EU/NATO membership, they should embrace a multi-vectored approach to ensure regional stability and security. Only through this pragmatic path can lasting peace be achieved, despite existing challenges and geopolitical complexities.

Also read:

G-7 Japan Summit: Consolidating Approaches for Global Challenges in the Indo-Pacific


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