In November 2010 I participated in an international forum dealing with relations between China and the Central Asian states.1 The conference was organized by the Institute of Russian, Eastern Europe and Central Asian Studies (IREECAS) of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing, and was the first of its kind — since it particularly concentrated on China’s ties with Central Asia and somewhat avoided taking the usual orientation towards Russia.2 At this conference, ‘Central Asia’ was clearly defined as being comprised of the five post-Soviet states, and even though the impact of Afghanistan was widely discussed the country itself was not formally regarded as being a part of Central Asia. Accordingly, no Afghan academics or officials actually participated in it.
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