But the pandemic has also supercharged wider trends that could have further shockwaves for Central Asia, particularly a deepening confrontation between China and the United States.
But as a new reality in Central Asia that is more lopsided in China’s favor begins to present itself, the balancing of the past may be more difficult to maintain.
American interest and involvement in Central Asia have waxed and waned since the collapse of the Soviet Union, intensifying in the aftermath of the invasion of Afghanistan and ensuing anti-terrorism military campaigns.
Despite that, Central Asia is not a policy priority in Washington.
It’s through this vehicle that China is looking to capitalize on the chaos created by the pandemic to further its goals and deepen its influence in Central Asia and beyond.