In a vast region, China’s economic clout is more than a match for Russia’sLESS than a decade ago little doubt hung over where the newly independent states of Central Asia had to pump their huge supplies of oil and gas: Russia, their former imperial overlord, dominated their energy infrastructure and markets. Yet today, when a new field comes on stream, the pipelines head east, to China. As if to underline the point, this week China’s president, Xi Jinping, swept through Central Asia, gobbling up energy deals and promising billions in investment. His tour left no doubts as to the region’s new economic superpower.
In Turkmenistan, already China’s largest foreign supplier of natural gas, Mr Xi inaugurated production at the world’s second-biggest gasfield, Galkynysh. It will help triple Chinese imports from the country. In Kazakhstan $30 billion of announced deals included a stake in Kashagan, the world’s largest oil discovery in recent decades. In Uzbekistan Mr Xi and his host, President Islam Karimov, unveiled $15 billion in oil, gas and uranium deals, though details in this opaque country were few.