Departures Podcast featuring Raffaello Pantucci, author of ‘Sinostan: China’s Inadvertent Empire’

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Though we often view China’s increasingly activist foreign policy in its trade wars, territorial disputes, and frequent collisions with Western states, less attention is paid to its gradual and quiet expansion of influence in the ‘Stans of Central Asia.

But it is here, among the populations of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan where one can see the true evolution of the Belt and Road Initiative, and watch the in progress departure of Russian influence over these former Soviet republics which has only accelerated since the war in Ukraine. 

In this episode of Departures we welcome the Raffaello Pantucci, the co-author along with the late Alexandros Petersen of the remarkably unique book, “Sinostan: China’s Inadvertent Empire.” Pantucci and Petersen, the latter of whom was tragically killed in an attack in Afghanistan before the book’s publication, underwent more than 10 years of field research and travel to draw this incredibly detailed portrait of the evolution of China’s geo-economic footprint in the resource-rich Central Asian basin.

With a highly visual narrative story-telling framework, Sinostan offers readers an unprecedented look inside how many Central Asian citizens and officials feel as this accidental empire has been built up around them.