Two Kyrgyzstani-Chinese border crossings close

The two border crossings between China and Kyrgyzstan—at Torugart and Irkeshtam—will be closed from today until April 6. Chinese officials

irkeshtam pass

Photo: onthewayaround

The two border crossings between China and Kyrgyzstan—at Torugart and Irkeshtam—will be closed from today until April 6.

Chinese officials will close the checkpoints in observation of China’s Qingming Festival. Though China routinely shutters its crossing points with Kyrgyzstan during Qingming, the China-Kyrgyzstan border has recently become contentious. The extended border closures that began in March 2020 left many Kyrgyz businesses without access to pre-purchased Chinese goods and led trade unions to protest both the closures and Kyrgyz leaders’ ties to Chinese investors. While China has partially reopened its border, anti-Chinese sentiment remains palpable.

Kyrgyzstan’s most significant trading partner, Beijing has invested heavily in improvements to Kyrgyz infrastructure through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Yet the level of China’s investment in the Kyrgyz economy has sparked periodic anti-Chinese unrest throughout the country.

Expect Beijing to lift remaining border restrictions as COVID-19 infections fall. Kyrgyzstani citizens will likely continue to protest China’s influence on the country, but such criticism is not expected to move either Chinese or Kyrgyz officials. Going forward, the country’s new leadership is especially likely to welcome Chinese investment in rail infrastructure through the BRI in exchange for increased Chinese access to Kyrgyzstan’s mineral resources.

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