A New Hegemon in Russia’s Backyard? Assessing China’s Implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative in Kazakhstan


  • Vincent Scharnberg
  • Dana Klomfass
  • Jakob Bro
  • Carina Svindborg
  • Jens Stokbro




By assessing the implementation of China’s BRI in Kazakhstan, this article examines a potential threat posed by the BRI to Russian hegemony in Central Asia. Analysing the implications that the initiative incorporates for the regional power balances and by applying concepts of hegemony found in both neo-Gramscianism and neoliberal institutionalism, the authors argue that a considerable shift in regional hegemony is underway and that, as the BRI grows stronger, it could eventually lead to China gaining the ability of shaping ‘forms of state’ of Kazakhstan and becoming a hegemon, a development underlined by both theories. In the case of Kazakhstan, arguing along the dimensions of political economic as well as social shifts away from Russia and towards China, the article finds that China has increased its influence through the new institutions and norms provided by the initiative to such a degree that it fulfils the requirements for hegemony, which could possibly trigger a transition in the entire Central Asian region.