On Tuesday the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a formal offer to its northwest neighbor Kazakhstan that it stands ready to give hasty assistance should it be requested, after the largest city of Almaty has been pacified by authorities after a week of severe unrest triggered by a fuel price hike, but which quickly targeted the rule of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
"China and Kazakhstan are friendly neighbors and permanent strategic partners. China maintains close cooperation with Kazakhstan and will provide assistance in accordance with the requests of the Kazakh party and within its capabilities," the ministry stated, as cited in Russian media.
"China adheres to a constructive approach regarding the measures facilitating pacification, economic development and improving the living standards of Kazakhstan's citizens," the ministry added.
While it's as yet unclear precisely what kind of assistance China is offering, it would possibly come in the form of peacekeeping troops such as the 3,000 Russian troops on the ground as of early this week, or more likely in as aid towards reconstruction efforts - given the devastation in many city centers after a week of riots in which government buildings were torched. Police advisory assistance could also be an option.
Last week as Kazakhstan was thrust into the international media spotlight, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed support for embattled President Tokayev, crucially at a moment his security forces were given "shoot to kill without warning orders" against any armed threat in the streets.
According to the latest from the Kazakh Interior Ministry, at least 17 police and national guard have been killed, while nearly 10,000 arrests have been made. At least 168 people have also died nationwide amid the chaos and rioting.
On Monday Tokayev proclaimed that "an attempted coup d’etat" had been put down by the state. He described that foreign terror elements had entered the country to fuel the violence, even blaming militants from Afghanistan at one point.
What's behind anti-government demonstrations in Kazakhstan?— DW News (@dwnews) January 6, 2022
Even though people first took to the streets to protest rising fuel prices, protests have broadened to include demands for greater political representation and better economic benefits. pic.twitter.com/BoW0TCsh2a
According to the AFP, "Speaking with European Council President Charles Michel later Monday, Tokayev said militants from Central Asia, Afghanistan and the Middle East were behind the unrest."
Interestingly, the allegation of Afghan militants in the country comes after Russia and China warned the West that the US-NATO longtime war and occupation in Afghanistan could further destabilization the central Asian region following US forces' chaotic retreat from the country last August. Tens of thousands of Afghans are believed to have poured into neighboring countries amid chaos, including militants in some cases.