Educated into Sinophilia? How Kazakh Graduates/Students of Chinese Universities Perceive China

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This article examines perceptions of China and contributes to the ongoing academic debate on Sinophobia in Central Asia. However, unlike existing studies, it specifically focuses on perceptions of those, who have first-hand China experience – Kazakh students/graduates of Chinese universities. Based on in-depth interviews with them, the article argues that those with first-hand China experience tend to reject the China threat theory, found to be widespread among the general population. Instead, China-educated Kazakh youth perceive China mostly as an economic opportunity for their own country. Yet, this does not necessarily make them Sinophiles in the sense that they still express certain concerns related to their country’s potential over-dependence on China. But more interestingly, they see China as the “civilizational other.” This perceived civilisational abyss even among the more-informed segments of the population appears to be one of the main causes of the alienation of China and the Chinese in Kazakhstan.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Current Chinese Affairs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Sinophobia
  • China
  • perception
  • Central Asia
  • Kazakhstan
  • youth


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