Hundreds of Kazakhs against 55 Chinese factories: "We will not become Beijing's slaves"
Chinese companies set to arrive in Zhanaozen city, the scene of bloody clashes in the past. The population also opposes the state visit to Beijing of the newly elected President Tokayev. Kazakhstan is experiencing a new season of social protests.
Nur-Sultan (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Nearly 500 protesters gathered for two days in Zhanaozen, a town in southwestern Kazakhstan, to protest against the construction of 55 Chinese factories that would take away work and sovereignty from national companies.
One of the protesters, Nuriyash Abdireeva, who came from Aktau to join the gathering. "We all know that there will no longer be a Kazakh if Chinese factories are built. There will be no work, we will be treated like slaves. We will receive 10 times less than the salary, but we will work more. We must build industries on our own. We lived without China and we will continue like this ".
The commercial collaboration with Beijing has been given an added boost by the visit of the newly elected Kazakh president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev next week. The protesters also oppose this trip, considered a surrender to Chinese financial ambitions.
Zhanaozen, in the Manghystau region, is an important commercial hub of the former Soviet Republic. In 2011 it became famous for the oil workers’ strike that was violently repressed by police. Yesterday Serikbai Turymov, governor of the region, met the protesters and tried to disperse the crowd, without success. A new demonstration was announced today.
Since Tokayev came to power last June, after the surprise resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan is experiencing a new season of popular protests: the inhabitants are demanding more individual rights and respect for democratic freedoms.
This opposition to debts contracted with China is shared by the citizens of another ex-Soviet Republic: Kyrgyzhstan. In early August, local residents in the Narynsk region clashed with Chinese miners from a Beijing company, accused of poisoning land and water, with serious consequences for livestock.