Thousands of Kazakhs demonstrated in Almaty last month to protest the debt trap of the Communist Party’s Belt and Road and the privatization of land.
Kazakhstan’s President Tokaev issued a decree on May 13 banning the sale of arable land to foreigners, a decree that makes permanent a temporary moratorium on land sales to foreigners that has been in place since 2016.
According to AFP, Kazakhstan has seen several demonstrations since 2016, driven by anti-China sentiment, against the government’s then-proposed plan to open the market for the sale of arable land to foreign investors. The opposition parties also plan to launch a new campaign this weekend to protest against the Communist Party’s investment plans in the country before the president signs the said ban.
A head of Kazakhstan’s opposition party celebrated the decree’s enactment via Facebook. However, he called for the continuation of the recent demonstrations in Almaty to warn the authorities “never to intend to sell our land to foreigners. We are against 56 Chinese (Communist Party of China) investment projects landing in Kazakhstan.”
According to the amendments, Kazakhstan strictly prohibits any person or entity from granting ownership and use of agricultural land to foreign citizens, foreign companies, Kazakh companies with foreign participation, stateless persons, international research centers, and foreign Kazakhs who have settled in Kazakhstan but have not acquired citizenship. At the same time, agricultural land that has been leased in the past by foreign citizens and foreign-invested companies may not be renewed at the end of the lease period.
According to Newtall News, the Tokaev government, which has always been pro-China and even considers itself a hub of the Belt and Road, passed controversial amendments to the land law in November 2015 that significantly liberalized the lease or sale of land to foreigners, prompting opposition in Kazakhstan to fear that the oil- and mineral-rich country would eventually become a hub of the Chinese Communist Party. The government’s passage of controversial amendments to its land law in November 2015, which significantly liberalized the leasing or sale of land to foreigners, prompted opposition in Kazakhstan to fear that Kazakhstan, rich in oil and minerals, would eventually become a vassal of the Communist Party of China, eventually sparking national protests.
The Tokaev government had no choice but to freeze the bill in May 2016 amid an anti-China wave. However, the decree is set to expire at the end of this year, so the government formed a special commission to revise it.
According to reports, at least 50 Chinese companies have set up factories in Kazakhstan and even acquired stakes in important companies, including Khorgos Gateway, a waterless port company.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan, about 93,000 hectares of agricultural land in Kazakhstan are leased by seven joint ventures and two foreign companies, and the leases will expire by 2025. At the end of the contract, the land will be nationalized.