Table of Content

    25 November 2020, Volume 30 Issue 11 Previous Issue    Next Issue
    Special Issue: Urbanization, Resources and Environment in Central Asia
    Mechanism of interaction between urbanization and resource environment in Central Asia
    ZHANG Xinhuan, XU Wenqiang, XIANG Xinyi, ZHANG Zhiping, CUI Mingjie
    2020, 30 (11):  1723-1738.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1809-5
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    Central Asia features an arid and semi-arid climate, and the region is undergoing urbanization in the context of a fragile eco-environment. The influence of specific historical events in this region also persists on this ongoing urbanization. This study examines the mechanism of interaction between urbanization and the resource environment in Central Asia. The following results were obtained. (1) In different periods—Russian colonization, the era of the Soviet Union, and Central Asian countries as independent—the interactions between urbanization and the resource environment varied. (2) Variations in land use within 50 km of major cities of the region reflect both the trend of urbanization and that of variations in the eco-environment. In Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, where urbanization has been slow, the supportive effect of the eco-environment for urbanization was clear. In Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, where freshwater resources are scarce, a close relationship was noted between urbanization and variations in the eco-environment. In Kazakhstan, fast urbanization has had a significant impact on the availability of water, grassland, and woodland in the relevant areas. (3) The efficiency of utilization of land and water resources is generally low. The compactness of the urban land of 47 major cities in Central Asia decreased from 0.44 in 1990 to 0.31 in 2015. Of them, 31 cities decreased in compactness, including all national capitals. Regardless of the level of urbanization, water consumption was high across the region. (4) The mechanisms of interaction between urbanization and the resource environment in Central Asia in the three stages were formulated to illustrate their specific temporal conductivity and spatial relevance.

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    Central Asian geo-relation networks: Evolution and driving forces
    WANG Yun, LIU Yi
    2020, 30 (11):  1739-1760.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1810-z
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    Due to the unique geographical location and historical background of Central Asia, the region’s geo-relation networks are complex and changeable. A social network analysis was conducted in this study to visualize the 20-year evolutionary process of bilateral (diplomatic relations) and multilateral (intergovernmental organization (IGO) connections) networks in Central Asia since 1993. Additionally, a further empirical study determined the significant driving forces of the construction of the geo-relation networks. The results showed that since the independence of the five Central Asian countries, their degree centrality (C’D(ni)) values have been increasing, with the index values being the highest for Kazakhstan, followed by Uzbekistan, while the other three countries had relatively low values. The Central Asian countries maintain bilateral relations with post-Soviet nations, neighboring countries, and Western powers, and have gradually deepened and expanded their diplomatic networks. From each state’s perspective, the geostrategic approaches adopted by the five countries were different. Kazakhstan has focused on expanding its bilateral and multilateral relations, while the other Central Asian countries have attempted to increase their influence by joining influential IGOs. Various driving forces, including economic, political, cultural, and geographical factors, have played significant roles in the construction of geo-relation networks in Central Asia. The importance of these factors has changed over time, from political and cultural factors (before 1995) to relations with neighboring countries (1996-2001), and finally to economic power and cultural and religious proximity (after 2002).

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    Comprehensive urbanization level and its dynamic factors for five Central Asian countries
    MA Haitao, SUN Zhan
    2020, 30 (11):  1761-1780.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1811-y
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    In the context of accelerated development of the Silk Road Economic Belt, it is necessary to conduct in-depth research on urbanization of Central Asian countries. This paper analyzes the spatial and temporal patterns and evolution dynamics of urbanization during the period 1991-2017 from the perspective of internal-external forces. The results are as follows. (1) The urbanization process of the five Central Asian countries studied is significantly influenced by their political and economic situations and displays periodic characteristics. All five countries experienced a stagnation development stage at the beginning of independence, and then a rapid growth stage since the year 2000. The average annual growth rates of the two stages were 0.19% and 1.45%, respectively. (2) Differences in the urbanization of the studied countries are obvious, and the evolutionary characteristics of each subsystem of urbanization are different. It is therefore necessary to distinguish and clearly understand the urbanization process of each country. (3) Internal and external factors play a role in the urbanization processes of Central Asian countries. External railway transportation facilities are particularly important for the development of urbanization in these countries. The regression coefficients of railway construction length, total merchandise trade and actually utilized foreign capital are 0.5665, 0.0937 and 0.0806, respectively. (4) Countries with smaller populations and economic scales need to engage in international cooperation to promote healthy development of urbanization. The results of the study indicate that internal and external factors work together in the urbanization process of Central Asian countries, and external forces are particularly important for the development of such urbanization.

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    Characteristics of industrial structure evolution and isomorphism in Central Asia
    KANG Lei, LIU Yi
    2020, 30 (11):  1781-1801.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1812-x
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    This study undertakes a systematic examination of characteristics of the spatio-temporal evolution of industrial economies in Central Asia from the perspectives of industrial scale, structural rationality, industrial competitiveness, and industrial isomorphism. The results show that industrial structures in Central Asian countries are becoming increasingly advanced, with certain differences among them in the characteristics of this evolution. Kazakhstan has long had a tertiary-secondary-primary industrial pattern, and productive services have played an increasingly prominent role in the development of its tertiary industry. The transformation of the industrial structure in Uzbekistan, from a secondary-tertiary- primary pattern at its independence from the Soviet Union to a tertiary-secondary-primary pattern, is apparent. Tajikistan’s industrial structure has also changed significantly in recent times. Its secondary industries shrunk while tertiary industries developed rapidly. In Kyrgyzstan, the ratios of secondary and tertiary industries to total industrial output have fluctuated significantly while considerable progress has been made in the service sector. The industrial structure of Turkmenistan is significantly lower than the other countries, and Turkmenistan is the only country in the Central Asian region which still shows a tertiary-secondary-primary industrial pattern. The feasibility and competitiveness of the industrial structures of these five Central Asian countries have different characteristics. Kazakhstan has structural advantages but lags in competitiveness, Uzbekistan is driven by both structural and competitive advantages, Tajikistan enjoys structural advantages while Kyrgyzstan lags behind in competitiveness, and Turkmenistan has a competitiveness-driven economy. Furthermore, values of the similar coefficient index of the three industrial structures in these countries were mostly above 0.95, the coefficients of the secondary industrial subdivisions in some countries were below 0.85, and those of tertiary industrial subdivisions among most countries were above 0.89, indicating considerable similarities in industrial structure among them. These findings are important in the context of establishing an effective industrial development strategy for the Silk Road Economic Belt, improving international cooperation, and upgrading industrial structures to achieve economic prosperity.

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    Spatiotemporal characteristics and driving mechanism of the coupling coordination degree of urbanization and ecological environment in Kazakhstan
    HUANG Jinchuan, NA Ying, GUO Yu
    2020, 30 (11):  1802-1824.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1813-9
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    When viewed against the backdrop of globalization and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Central Asia has ushered in new development opportunities. However, problems of ecological environment as a consequence of urbanization have begun to act as a constraint on the economic development of the region. the coupling coordination degree between the urbanization and ecological environment in Kazakhstan was analyzed by the coupling coordination degree model. The main controlling factors affecting its development were explored using a geographical detector. Several main conclusions can be drawn. (1) Kazakhstan's urbanization level, ecological environment level, and the coupling coordination degree between urbanization and ecological environment are all on the rise. (2) In terms of the comprehensive urbanization index, the western and eastern states have higher values than the southern and northern states. The spatial distribution pattern of the ecological environment index revealed high values in the eastern and western regions and low values in the central region. (3) The coupling coordination degree among the states of Kazakhstan is mostly at a low-moderate level. The spatial distribution shows that the coordination level of the east, middle, and west of the country is higher than that of south and north. (4) Indicators such as GDP per capita, social fixed asset investment per capita, employment in industry and services (% of total employment), and the number of college students per 10,000 people are important urbanization factors that affect the coupling coordination degree of urbanization and ecological environment. Indicators of farmland areas per capita, availability of water resources per capita, ecological land per capita and forest coverage in the ecological environment subsystem are important ecological environmental factors that affect the degree of coordination between urbanization and ecological environment in Kazakhstan. The interaction of the main elements in the two subsystems has a strong synergy.

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    Dynamic transition mechanism analysis of the impact of energy development on urbanization in Central Asia
    ZHOU Yannan, YANG Yu, SONG Zhouying, HE Ze, XIA Siyou, REN Yawen
    2020, 30 (11):  1825-1848.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1814-8C
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    Energy development has a significant impact on urbanization. This study employs the entropy method to evaluate the level of urbanization in Central Asia and further analyzes the possible dynamic transition mechanisms of the impact of energy development (characterized by energy development scale, energy trade, energy consumption, and energy endowment) on urbanization using the Panel Smooth Transition Regression model (PSTR). The results demonstrate that energy development in this region is characterized by “three highs and one low”, namely, high production volume, high export volume, high endowment, and low self-consumption, and plays a crucial role in the progress of urbanization. A nonlinear relationship is found to exist between energy development and comprehensive urbanization in the transition economies of Central Asia. Generally speaking, as energy development continues to expand, its impact on urbanization in this region has shifted from constraint to promotion, with the latter gradually tending to flatten out. Energy development characterized by energy development scale, energy consumption, and energy trade can prove the point, whose threshold is 1.47 million tons oil equivalent (Mtoe), 0.29 tons oil equivalent (toe) per capita, and 20.95 Mtoe, respectively. However, not all energy development models exhibit this behavior. Energy development characterized by energy endowment is such a case where the positive effect of it on comprehensive urbanization will be restrained when it exceeds 3.18. These findings can aid decision makers in seeking a better energy development model to promote the sustainable development of urbanization in Central Asia, avoiding energy resources waste and disorderly development.

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    Evolutionary investment network and the emerging energy power in Central Asia: From the perspective of cross-border mergers and acquisitions
    HE Ze, CHONG Zhaohui, YANG Yu, ZHOU Yannan, LIU Yi
    2020, 30 (11):  1849-1870.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1815-7
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    Central Asia is emerging as an important pole of global economic and political power, thanks to its unique location at the heart of Eurasia and its abundance in energy reserves. This study explores the social power change in Central Asia from the perspective of cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&A) by using the social network method. The main results are as follows: (1) The complexity of the energy M&A network has significantly decreased after the financial crisis in 2008. In the meantime, energy M&A became an important way to enhance energy power for buyer countries. Betweenness centrality is becoming the most significant factor affecting energy power, yet the effect of out-degree is weakening. (2) The community underwent multifaceted restructuring, which reflected the shift of energy power in Central Asia. Kazakhstan is the most powerful country in the energy sector in Central Asia. In addition, East Asian countries/regions, represented by China, are actively enhancing their energy power. (3) Different M&A modes reflect various M&A motivations of countries in the energy sector. In the future, more efforts should be made to promote the establishment of a pragmatic and efficient multilateral energy cooperation mechanism and strength the cooperation of the economy and energy finance when China participates in the energy market in Central Asia.

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    Energy geopolitics in Central Asia: China’s involvement and responses
    ZHOU Qiang, HE Ze, YANG Yu
    2020, 30 (11):  1871-1895.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1816-6
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    To ensure adequate oil supply and mitigate geopolitical uncertainties, China has diversified its sources of crude oil imports in recent years. Central Asia is a neighbor region of China, rich in oil and natural gas reserves, which can play an important role in China’s strategy to reduce its dependence on energy supplies from the Middle East. The geopolitical attributes of energy and the geopolitical situation in Central Asia determine that Central Asia’s energy development and cooperation are disturbed by domestic and foreign factors, and also face the risks of complex energy structural evolution and geopolitical games, which create a unique energy geopolitical pattern in Central Asia. This study proposes an analysis framework for energy geopolitics in Central Asia, arguing that the complexity of energy geopolitics in Central Asia can be demonstrated from the perspectives of both the main countries of energy development (game actors) and the whole-industry-chain of energy development (game themes). The most obvious feature of Central Asian energy geopolitics is the fierce game that is played between key countries and regions, Russia, the United States, China, the European Union (EU), Japan, India, Iran, and Turkey. Strategic geopolitical considerations and resource requirements necessitate the active participation of these players in Central Asian energy development and mean that the foreign policy agendas of states in this region are likely to become ever more crowded. Therefore, the energy cooperation between China and Central Asia faces the geopolitical risks of the great power games. It is necessary to develop reasonable and effective policies to establish guarantee mechanisms to minimize the risks of energy cooperation. This study characterizes the energy geopolitical strategies of Russia, the United States, China, and other related powers in Central Asia. It also assesses the country risks faced by energy cooperation between China and Central Asian countries. To withstand possible geopolitical and country risks, this study develops a series of policy frameworks which can be used to fortify the stability of the energy cooperation between China and Central Asian countries, and can also be effective in responding to the array of risks that might be encountered in the coming years.

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    Evaluation on the allocative efficiency of agricultural factors in the five Central Asian countries
    WANG Guogang, ZHANG Lin, SUN Yuzhu, YANG Yantao, HAN Chengji
    2020, 30 (11):  1896-1908.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1817-5
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    Based on methods such as stochastic frontier production function, this paper analyses the changes of single factor productivity (SFP) and total factor productivity (TFP) of agriculture in the five Central Asian countries, during the period of 1992 to 2017. The research results show that the agricultural output in most of the five Central Asian countries has increased steadily, while agricultural labor productivity has shown a growth trend. With the exception of Kazakhstan, the land productivity of the other four countries shows a growth trend. In terms of factor input, the number of agricultural workers in the five Central Asian countries mainly shows a trend of decrease, with the input of chemical fertilizer increasing, and the amount of agricultural machinery increasing or decreasing within a small range. The total factor productivity in the five Central Asian countries has improved, but it is still at a low level. The policy suggestions contained in the research conclusions are as follows: (1) Promote the growth of agricultural TFP in the five Central Asian countries, and strengthen the emphasis on the input and allocation of agricultural factors; (2) be aware of the innovation of agricultural technology, as well as the promotion and diffusion of existing agricultural technologies, and improve the overall technical efficiency of agriculture; and (3) accelerate the effective flow of capital and other elements to the agricultural sector, improve infrastructure, better release the “dividend” of science and technology, and enhance the output efficiency.

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    Changes in agricultural virtual water in Central Asia, 1992-2016
    YAN Ziyan, TAN Minghong
    2020, 30 (11):  1909-1920.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1818-4
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    In recent years, flows of many rivers and lakes have become reduced in arid and semi-arid regions around the world. The most typical examples of this phenomenon occur in Central Asia, and the reduction of the Aral Sea area is closely related to agricultural water use. However, due to a lack of continuous data in Central Asia spanning many years, “virtual water” is used to evaluate changes in agricultural water use. Based on virtual water theory, 325 kinds of agricultural products in eight categories are selected as the research object, and changes in virtual water are calculated for Central Asia from 1992 to 2016. Results indicate that: (1) The average annual net export of agricultural virtual water (TVWNE) in Central Asia is about 9 billion m3, concentrated in Kazakhstan, whose annual TVWNE reaches 8.1 billion m 3. (2) Since 2007, the TVWNE in Central Asia has dropped significantly, with a drop rate of 86%, while the total volume of agricultural virtual water has gradually increased since 1998. (3) The upstream and downstream countries in Central Asia have different characteristics in the change of virtual water quantity.

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