27 Apr 2022 10:12 am
Beijing has said it opposes foreign intervention in Kazakhstan. China’s defense minister warned against “color revolutions” being instigated under the guise of protests. He promised to support Nur-Sultan in “protecting national security”.
After meeting with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Monday in Nur-Sultan, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe highlighted the “bright future prospects” of the bilateral relationship and also addressed the threat of foreign interference. The Chinese Ministry of Defense quoted the minister:
“China firmly opposes external forces deliberately inciting a color revolution in Kazakhstan and supports Kazakhstan to take effective measures to protect national security and social stability.”
“We must be vigilant when some major powers in Central Asia interfere and disrupt Central Asia’s security.”
While Wei did not elaborate, his comments came about three months after mass protests erupted in Kazakhstan, initially prompted by hikes in fuel prices. The rallies were violently dispersed over several days in January, with at least 225 people killed and thousands more injured or arrested in clashes with security forces.
The unrest was followed by a deployment of peacekeeping forces from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The troops were deployed to Kazakhstan at Tokayev’s request and eventually helped end the violence in the country. In response to protesters’ complaints, the government sacked several top officials and promised a range of political and economic reforms, including reintroducing previous fuel price controls.
The Kazakh leader claimed that tens of thousands of “foreign-trained terrorists and bandits” were behind the unrest, seeking a coup on behalf of another state. However, he did not provide any evidence to support this claim.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Li said at the time that the protests were being fueled by the “three evil forces” of extremism, terrorism and separatism, and offered the support of Chinese security forces. Although Kazakhstan is a member of the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization and reserves the right to ask member states for security assistance, it did not do so during the January unrest.