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Tajik and Chinese — brothers forever not

Таджик и китаец — не братья навек

What is dangerous contracts with China for one of the poorest countries of the CIS. Tajikistan’s Ministry of industry recently reported that the Chinese company TBEA this year will begin to develop two gold deposits — “Upper Kumars” and “Eastern Duoba” in Ayni district. Proven gold reserves in both deposits amount to approximately 52 tonnes. According to the agreement between the parties the company has the right to extract precious metals from these mines until, until you reimburse the money spent on the construction of thermal power station “Dushanbe-2”, which is more than $330 million In this case, if the costs of the Chinese company reserves of the two mines is not enough, TBEA will receive the right to development of another gold Deposit.

In the last decade, the Chinese have developed significant activity in Tajikistan. It was preceded by the signing of the Treaty of good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation between China and Tajikistan in 2007, then Chinese companies have entrusted the construction of the Republic of roads, tunnels, high-voltage transmission lines (LEP), plants, exploration, mining and much more. The number and total cost erected here by China of facilities from year to year. Here is a brief overview of the main directions of China’s economic presence in Tajikistan.

Gold mine

Let’s start with gold. According to official data, currently more than half of the gold deposits in Tajikistan transferred for the development of Chinese companies, which owned 60% of the shares of these fields. In addition, they are transferred to a preserved gold mine company. Most revealing in this sense is a joint Chinese-Tajik venture “Zarafshon” was developing four major (“Taror”, “Gilou”, “Hirshon” and “Olympic”) and a number of smaller deposits. In addition to above-mentioned gold mines of “Upper Kumars” and “Eastern Duoba”, China was the richest field “Pakrut” in the Vahdat region, whose reserves are estimated at 134 tonnes of gold. Probably this list is far from complete, since about such things the authorities are trying once again not to mention.

To understand how far things have gone, suffice it to say that one of the Tajik state enterprise “Tilloi Tojik” engaged in gold mining, there are three powerful Chinese companies: Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd, China Nonferrous Gold Limited and TBEA.

It is significant that a large part of investment in China is aimed at development of deposits of gold and rare earth metals. In addition, Chinese companies are increasingly engaged in industrial construction. They built several cement plants and the chemical industry. The Chinese also began the construction of a new aluminium plant in the territory of the operating enterprise, the Tajik aluminum company (TALCO).

Power lines and tunnels

Over the last 12 years the Chinese company TBEA was built five transmission lines: transmission line South — North (500 kV), Lolazor — Khatlon (220 kV), Khujand — Ayni (220 kV), Aini — Rudaki and Dushanbe — Obi Garm (for 220 kV). The conducted work made it possible to combine together the individual parts of the energy system of the country, which was very important in the conditions of long-term winter energy deficit. In addition, in Dushanbe, the Chinese have already built the mentioned thermal power plant (CHPP “Dushanbe-2”), and now are building the second queue.

The question is often asked: could the Tajikistan to build all these facilities on their own? Sorry, I could not. The construction of transmission lines in mountainous regions — it is technically complicated and costly. Tajikistan just can not implement such projects on their own — primarily because of the lack of expertise and funds.

The construction of roads and Railways, and associated tunnels, is also the prerogative of China. Chinese companies have constructed and reconstructed hundreds of kilometers of roads throughout Tajikistan. Previously, RT has tried to cooperate in this sphere with Iran. However, the experience was considered a failure. Tunnel “Istiqlol”, which Iran has built at anzobskiy pass, located on the highway Dushanbe — Khujand, 80 km North of the capital, the population is called a “tunnel of terror” or “death tunnel”. He was commissioned in 2006, but still it is not finished works for the withdrawal of groundwater, not working ventilation, no proper lighting.

Tunnel “Shahriston” under the same pass, built later by the Chinese on the same course, compares favorably with Iranian comfort, lighting and ventilation. One only of the railway line Dushanbe — Yavan — Kulyab Chinese built three tunnels with a total length of almost four kilometers. In their asset, it is also possible to place the tunnel “chormagzak”, later renamed “Khatlon” and “Shar-Shar” (“Ozodi”) on the highways of the southern part of the country.

In addition, China has reconstructed a complex of Alpine Hiking trails on the mountain height of 3-4 thousand meters above sea level. There were built new roads, which allowed to reduce the distance and make the drive safer.

Land to the Chinese?

Chinese entrepreneurs do not leave unattended and agriculture. In 2011 in Tajikistan appeared at least five Chinese agricultural companies are mainly in the South of the country. These companies don’t mess around: they lease hundreds and even thousands of acres of land, and once in 49 years. The influx of Chinese here now amounts to many hundreds, they come here for a long time.

Here I must say that the presence of Chinese citizens in remote mountainous areas was for the indigenous people unnoticed, and the benefits in the form of comfortable roads and the construction companies — are obvious. However, the arrival of the Chinese in the valley has caused the population’s discontent. And this is understandable: in Tajikistan, only 7% of the territory is suitable for agriculture, and the number of people per hectare of arable land is 2.7, 1.5-2 times more, than at neighbours in the CIS. The shortage of land is obvious, and the problem is only getting worse: the population is growing by a quarter of a million, and now even the locals find it difficult to obtain land for farming or building a house.

People don’t want to give up their land on which they can grow and sell. It is with the land, they associate the feeling of well-being. The fact that an overwhelming number of rural men is in Shuttle labor migration in Russia, and the land remain unused, one is not convincing. Because each migrant worker’s home for a few children who will soon grow up, and they also need a place in the sun. That is why the Chinese “earth expansion” causes serious discontent of the local residents.

However, no critical articles in the press or obvious indignation the people have had no effect. The Tajik authorities have not explained why the land leased to Chinese farmers.

Who’s the boss

In recent years, the Tajik media regularly report about the conflicts between Chinese workers and local residents. Usually it is a fight between men, caused by offensive, according to local behavior of the Chinese or disputes about the use of natural resources.

The new shape of conflicts become disputes. One of the last of such incidents became known in early January. It happened between the management of Tajik-Chinese joint venture “Zarafshon” was and a group of drivers in Panjakent. Here it is necessary to fly a small digression to clarify what constitutes a joint venture “Zarafshon” was. It runs on several major gold deposits, opened by Soviet geologists, in the last years of the Soviet Union there was launched a gold mining plant. In 1994, the company was reincorporated and transformed into a joint venture “Zarafshon” was, a controlling stake (51%) of which were sold to the British campaign Commonwealth and British Minerals PLC. In 2007, 75% of the shares were bought by the Chinese Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. SP “Zarafshon” was produced in the year more than 2.5 tons of gold and is the largest gold miner in the Republic.

But back to the conflict. The reason for his ban was the Director of JV “Zarafshon” was (in social media, it is called Zhang Holling, however, the transliteration may be inaccurate. — Approx. “Fergana”) for carriage of stone and gravel, which the local drivers were extracted near the plant. Over the past 20 years I put away the gravel to state institutions and other customers. For local drivers, have no relation to SP, it was a constant source of earnings. Deprived of it, they complained to the Chairman of Sughd region Rajabboy Ahmadzada. However, when the solution of a question has arrived the representative of the Hukumat (administration) of Panjakent, Holling told him that the answer will be given directly to the government of Tajikistan.

Since then it’s been three months, and the ban has not been lifted, and the drivers are still without a job and without money. According to them, all of them have large families of 5-8 people, who are now left without a livelihood.

People, for centuries living in this area, of course, consider the surrounding land, fields and mountains their heritage. The situation they perceive clearly: it’s the Chinese suddenly begin to command and deprive indigenous people of their legitimate rights. Unfortunately, the conflict persists and the authorities are in no hurry to come to the aid of victims.

The account can not be

Find out how many in Tajikistan the Chinese, was not easy. The Agency on statistics under the President of the “Fergana” reported that at the beginning of 2018 the Chinese, was officially issued 5486 work permits, and by the middle of this year, was issued 2804 permission. Commenting on this information, the Agency Abduvali Kulov said: “This does not mean that all of these 2804 — newcomers. Just Chinese migrants work permit is valid for one year. And many receive them again.”

He also explained that there is a differentiated account of arriving to the Republic of Chinese citizens. Due to this, it is clear that from the total number of hotels 51% of the profits for projects under intergovernmental agreements, and 49% were in Tajikistan on their own initiative.

Until 2017 for the citizens of China established annual quota for work in 4.5 thousand people. But two years ago the government of Tajikistan has allocated an additional 1,700 permits for Chinese construction workers of the gas pipeline Turkmenistan — China, the laying of which in the Tajik area will last until 2020. In 2018, the Tajik government has allocated to Chinese workers an additional 2.4 thousand permits. While highly skilled specialists from China who come within the framework of implementation of joint projects, the work permit is not necessary.

Another problem is that Chinese citizens, who enter Tajikistan from Kyrgyzstan by land. How many of them are moving out of this Republic is not known, because often they cross the border illegally. In any case, the naked eye can see that Chinese citizens in Tajikistan a lot more than it should be, on the basis of official figures. Based on information from unofficial sources, Radio “Ozodi” reports about 100 thousand Chinese citizens living and working in Tajikistan. These Chinese citizens, “allegedly with the purpose of the business moving into Tajikistan, and then, paying bribes to the relevant Tajik agencies, extend their visas”. According to others, the number of Chinese migrants in the Republic can reach 150 thousand people.

To stay married and

The more Chinese migrants penetrated into Tajik areas and cities, it was clear their rejection of the indigenous people. This opposition arises from the great difference in culture, behavior and religion. Many, for example, will shock even the food habits of migrants from China. Residents of villages located along the mountain slopes, tell you that the Chinese working in the mountains, completely destroy all the turtles, snakes and even some birds just eat them as a free delicacy. However, the local residents, for the most part Muslims, for obvious reasons such food disdain.

Shocks of Tajiks and Chinese resourcefulness. So, in the 90-ies of the last century on the main Avenue of the city, directly opposite the Parliament opened a shop of Chinese household appliances. The prices here were slightly higher than in markets where any product is sold without any guarantees and documents. People, however, was attracted by the results of a three-year warranty on all merchandise with the promise to replace it in case of breakdown — buyers were given passports products in which the stamp store. Friendly saleswoman through an interpreter offered a wavering significant discounts and give bonuses. It is clear that TVs and air conditioning units were sold there like hot cakes. However, when one of the buyers after two months I came to the store, saying that TV has deteriorated, the attitude has changed dramatically: the interpreter had disappeared, and the Chinese woman-shop assistant flatly refused to understand. The customer left, hoping to return another day. But when he came next time, disappeared and the store itself. In other words, the Chinese were selling knowingly defective equipment with “guarantee” and when it came time to implement the commitments it looks like they just escaped.

In the capital of Tajikistan is now the number of Chinese that even created a market called “China Bazaar”. In Dushanbe also, there are many Chinese cafes and restaurants. They quickly adjusted to the tastes of the local population and do not cook your favorite Chinese pork or perhaps snakes, but use the same for Tajiks lamb and beef. In these restaurants as the ordinary staff are also local.

Began to appear and Chinese medical institutions. While they occur instantly, but just as quickly disappear. Sometimes even hard to understand who the customers are, and migrants from China and local residents. Experience Chinese “clinics” the townspeople are very different: someone happy, and someone, on the contrary, scolding.

Many Tajiks, and this was confirmed by a survey of “Fergana”, negative attitude towards marriages with the citizens of China, believing that by marrying the local women, the Chinese aim to get Tajik citizenship and stay here forever.

To die on the job

Chinese labor organization is also very different from what used local. So, the inhabitant of the southern outskirts of Dushanbe, says: “I was amazed when in the early morning saw a lot of Chinese in identical uniforms, fast moving systems through our neighborhood. They walked to the road, where they were waiting for a truck. It turned out that this builders of residential homes that are living in trailers in the Parking lot. No one noticed because they left before dawn, at 5 am, and came back to 23 nights. Only then did I understand why was opened nearby Chinese grocery store. A year later they disappeared.”

In 2016, Tajik parliamentarians have amended the law, requiring that joint ventures have worked not less than 90% of Tajiks. Prior to this, the number of foreign workers in such enterprises could be 30%. However, it quickly became clear that the local simply can not withstand the Chinese working mode: 12-hour working day in a very high rate, interrupting only a half-hour lunch on the job. Regarding the intensity and duration of the working day there were constant disputes between the Chinese engineers and local workers who eventually just left.

The people who worked in the Chinese projects, they say that their salary was $300-350 on hand. Only managers received more in the neighborhood of $600. It becomes clear why Tajiks working with the Chinese prefer to emigrate to Russia, where wages are higher and working conditions better.

Alien ecology can endure

Here is a very revealing story describing Chinese activity in Tajikistan. In the center of Dushanbe on the territory of the idle plant, an enterprising Chinese man built a furnace for smelting of scrap metal. Work at the same time was the clock. Residents of nearby homes lost normal sleep: poisonous gases poisoned the air so that they begin to have headaches and other symptoms of intoxication.

“Even at a distance of almost a kilometer from this furnace it was impossible to breathe, — the local resident tells Nargis. — Posted linen instantly became gray due to the settling weight of fly ash, dried up shrubs and flowers in the yard. We broke down and moved to another area of the city.”

The residents sent a collective letter to the city Department on ecology, but it didn’t work. It turned out that the Chinese are the great masters to handle slippery issues with management at various levels. Thus, the work of a homemade “factory” lasted for several years until, while in Dushanbe was depleted reserves of nearly free scrap metal. But it was early to celebrate: on the horizon formed a much larger problem.

At the end of 2016 in Dushanbe was launched built by the Chinese in their own money CHPP “Dushanbe-2”. Of course, the object is important and necessary, because it would reduce energyinet and increase the flow of light in houses of inhabitants of the capital. With one “but”: the CHP runs on coal, although it is prohibited to enterprises located in the city, and, apparently, lacking modern wastewater treatment filters. CHP carries out the emission of coal dust, which is a huge black flakes settles on houses, trees and soil, poisoning everything. The indignation of residents of Dushanbe authorities prefer not to notice.

The Charter to tolerate these emissions, a resident of the capital Abdurahmon went to the CHP office to invite the user to see what they turn once-flourishing area of the city.

“In a five-story building with many offices I have not found a single local worker, surprised he said. — In all offices sitting at computers cheerful young Chinese. Among them was dominated by girls who were laughing together in response to my questions. I finally found the office of the chief engineer, but he, too, was Chinese and could not speak neither Tajik nor Russian.”

Against this sombre backdrop, adviser at the office of economic and commercial Affairs of the Embassy of China in Tajikistan, sun Yan said in an interview with news Agency “Avesta”, the company TBEA built at TPP “object flue gas desulphurisation with limestone and gypsum, used the latest electrochemical arrangement for dust removal and combustion technology with a low content of nitrogen in the boiler […], that kept the environment of Tajikistan from harmful emissions.” The real things anyone can see with their own eyes.

Millions help

Chinese companies in Tajikistan regularly organize charity events, widely covered in the media. In particular, they have built seven schools in the country. So, TBEA has built four modern schools. The volume of investments in them amounted to about $9 million. China also plans to build in Tajikistan University, 40 thousand students, which will be training in several dozens of specialties.

The Chinese always hold the distribution of school supplies to students from low-income families, give money and goods to people affected by natural disasters. Gifts are sometimes given in the form of products firms. For example, a Corporation “Huaxin cement” not only to build schools, but gave them cement, totaling more than $2.3 million

In addition, 30 high school graduates RT were sent to the Tajik-Chinese joint venture Trans-Asia Gas Pipeline Company Limited in different Chinese universities, providing them with scholarships for 5 years. LLC “Tajik-Chinese mining company” has allocated funds for the construction of the Confucius Institute in Tajikistan and trained for the local mining industry.

Not far behind, and ZTE, which donated to the Ministry of education and science of RT 10 thousand wireless fixed stations, communication Service — communication 300 GOTA terminals for communication in emergency situations and the Ministry of economy and trade provided a system for video conferencing. The last major Chinese steel gift $345 million allocated to China free of charge for the construction of new buildings of the Parliament and the governmental residence.

Chinese charity and sometimes takes a very peculiar form. Employee of one of departments of the economic bloc on condition of anonymity told “Fergana” is an interesting story:

“I attended the seminar held by the Chinese. The participants were employees of several ministries. At registration everyone was offered books about China, in large quantity lying around on the table. But few of them who took it. I took three books, wanting to give them to his employees. Later I discovered that each of them invested $100 and that’s my monthly salary. With a laugh I told my colleagues that from now on, take everything handed out by Chinese launched.”

Gently now, will be hard then

Many experts have expressed doubts about whether it is reasonable to enter such a close cooperation with China. To justify the government can say that it forces the obvious lack of own funds for large projects.

In an interview to “Avesta”, dated 30 January of this year, Ambassador extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of China to RT, Liu bin said that in the Republic are more than 400 companies, created on the money of China, which is a major investor in Tajikistan. Meanwhile, from year to year and it is the duty of the Republic to China at the end of 2018, it exceeded $1.2 billion.

It would seem that such a large infusion of Tajik industry and infrastructure would have to bring a notable economic effect — at least, to substantially increase tax revenues and improve the social situation of the population. However, Tajikistan remains the weakest emerging CIS country with the lowest wages (average — $130) and the highest poverty level (about 30%). At the same time to repay debts, China will still have — if not money, then gold, if not gold, then territories, as it was in 2000-ies, when Tajikistan gave China more than a thousand square kilometers of territory of Gorno-Badakhshan.

Tajikistan is too dependent on China, and an established relationship, though, and are considered friendly, but they are not equal, some experts believe. So, Tajik economist Sodikdjon Nosirov argues that Chinese investment will turn to Tajikistan serious debt, and most of the invested funds is returned to China because “Chinese companies when operating abroad using its own technique, its own materials, and trying mainly to attract Chinese professionals.”

Despite the lack of visible improvements from the presence of China and emerging periodically on this basis, the conflicts, the situation in Tajikistan in General remains quite calm. Rallies like those that took place in Alma-ATA and Bishkek against Chinese expansion in Dushanbe is unthinkable. To criticize the actions of the authorities, who are stuck in the “friendship” with China on the ears, no one here will. Given the overwhelming Chinese pragmatism, it is possible to predict that political and economic pressure of China in Tajikistan will only increase. The Chinese policy in this case is better suited for an old Russian proverb: “lays Gently, but firmly to bed.”

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