The New Great Game
11:37 AM, Jun 11, 2007 • By JENNIFER CHOU
Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates succeeded in securing guarantees from Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiev for continued U.S. use of the Manas air base. During a June 5th press conference in Bishkek--the Kyrgyz capital--Secretary Gates reiterated the importance of Coalition operations at Manas and their role "in support of a larger war on terrorism."
Airman 1st Class Michael Lepla digs out a C-17 Globemaster III
The next day, People's Daily, the organ paper of the Chinese Communist party, ran a piece titled "U.S. Defense Secretary Uses anti-Terrorism as an Excuse to Cling Shamelessly to Kyrgyz Air Base."
The article describes an American military bent on overstaying its welcome in Kyrgyzstan, despite calls by Kyrgyz parliamentarians last month for the eviction of U.S. forces from Manas. The piece ends with this observation:
This sentiment reflects Beijing's growing resentment over not only the Manas air base, but with this country's global military posture more generally. As noted in a 2004 article on "U.S. occupation of Kyrgyz air base" that has been re-published by a number of official Chinese websites:
For obvious reasons, China has kept a watchful eye on Central Asia. While Beijing lacks Moscow's historical presence, it has in recent years made considerable inroads into the region. In Kyrgyzstan, for example, China has launched infrastructure projects worth billions of dollars. These include a power station, a railway line, and a highway system. And of the three major powers vying for influence in the region, China is the only one that shares a border with Kyrgyzstan.