Central Asia
cultural diplomacy
soft power

How to Cite

Supyaldiyarov, I., Gupta, R., & Aliyeva, S. (2024). Beyond Borders and Bazaars: China and Russia’s Contest for Hearts and Minds in Central Asia. JOURNAL OF CENTRAL ASIAN STUDIES, 94(2), 52–70. https://doi.org/10.52536/3006-807X.2024-2.04


This article explores China and Russia's cultural diplomacy and soft power approach in Central Asia. Drawing from various sources, including scholarly literature, reports, and expert analyses, our analysis elucidates the strategies employed by these powers. Both states compete for influence through a combination of hard and soft power tools tailored to the diverse geopolitical landscape of the region. While China relies primarily on its vast economic potential as a critical component of its cultural diplomacy to build soft power, Russia leans on its historical socio-cultural ties with the region. The contest for influence between Russia and China in the region extends beyond mere geopolitical maneuvering, permeating into the realm of culture and evolving into a battle for the hearts and minds of the region's public. This competition significantly impacts global power dynamics and the future growth trajectory of Central Asian states. By highlighting the intricacies of these relationships, we aim to contribute to the existing literature on the geopolitical situation in Central Asia from a cultural perspective.