Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Oyuna Baldakova

Win-Win on the Local Level: The Belt and Road Initiative in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and its Stakeholder Narratives

Raum 7

Oyuna Baldakova is a PhD Candidate at the Graduate School of East Asian Studies (GEAS) at the Free University of Berlin and a fellow of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG). Her research focus is China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its potential consequences for sustainable development of Central Asia. Oyuna examines the BRI from the perspective of international development studies and analyzes the initiative on the levels of China’s official discourse, its domestic development and external economic policies, and actual financing and implementation of infrastructure projects in Central Asia. This project will shed light on the BRI as an extension of China’s own developmental model and assess the initiative’s impact by mapping its stakeholders and interpreting their narratives through the lens of complex systems theory. Oyuna is currently in the final stage of data collection, transcription and will soon enter the final writing phase in her last GEAS year.

Oyuna comes from Buryatia (Russian Siberia). She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics (English and Chinese) at Buryat State University in Russia and Master’s degree in Modern East Asian Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany for which she was awarded a scholarship from the DAAD - German Academic Exchange Service. After that, she worked in the field of international development interning at UNESCO Bangkok, managing an EU-funded project for Central Asia, and running communications as vice-chair of the International Organization of Folk Art (IOV) Youth Committee for a two-year term.


M.A. in Modern East Asian Studies, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany (December 2012)

Diploma with Honours in Linguistics (English and Chinese) and Pedagogy, Buryat State University, Ulan-Ude, Russia (June 2010)



German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) Fellow (10/2016-10/2019)

Confucius Institute scholarship holder (07/2011-08/2011)

German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD) scholarship holder (08/2010 – 10/2012)

Dorzhi Banzarov scholarship holder (09/2009-06/2010)

Research Interests

Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese Foreign Policy, International Development, Political Economy for Development, Sustainability Studies, Institutional Change, Complexity Theory


Field Research Mobility Phase

May- June 2018 / September 2018

Visiting researcher at China and Central Asia Studies Center (CCASC)

KIMEP University

Abay avenue 2, Almaty 050010



January-April 2018 / July-August 2018

Visiting researcher at National School of Development (NSD)

Peking University

Beijing 100871





Other Programmes

  • May 2018: Young Global Changer at G20/T20 Global Solutions Summit (Berlin, Germany)
  • May 2018: Delegate to Astana Economic Forum (Astana, Kazakhstan)
  • November 2017: Participant at Gorchakov Fund’s “Dialogue in the Name of the Future” (Moscow, Russia)
  • September 2017: Participant at Visiting Program for Young Sinologists (Xi’an, China)
  • March 2017: Delegate to Yenching Global Symposium (Peking University, China) http://yenchingsymposium.org/2017-xinnovation

Reviewed blog publications

Baldakova, O. “China’s Central Asian Connection.” MERICS Blog. 06 Feb. 2020.

Baldakova, O. “Protests along the BRI: China’s Prestige Project Meets Growing Resistance.” MERICS Blog. 10 Dec. 2019.

Baldakova, O., & Zuenko, I. "Punish and Drain. How China is Using its Visa Policy” (in Russian). Carnegie Moscow Center. 8 Feb. 2019, https://carnegie.ru/commentary/78318


Baldakova, O. “Protests & Diplomacy in Central Asia: shifting roles of China, Russia, and Europe.” The Belt and Road Podcast. 17 March 2020

Baldakova, O. “Researching the BRI’s Linkage Effects in Central Asia”. Belt and Road Advisory. 11 July 2018, https://beltandroad.ventures/podcasts/2018/6/20/oyuna-baldakova-researching-bris-linkage-effects-in-central-asia?fbclid=IwAR1ztyK98lYiL-QEksD54lzFoK4jeTXGHmyj9FejJ9LMpIwfKULDcQ7ajD0

Media appearances

Elmer, K. “China is Spending Big on Diplomacy in Central and South Asia, but is it Worth it?” South China Morning Post. 15 Dec. 2019.

Lokshin, P. “Chinas Islam-Problem auf der Seidenstraße” (in German). Die Welt. 1 Nov. 2019.

Presentations at workshops, conferences and summer schools


Event Title

Presentation Topic

Leiden (the Netherlands), 07/2019 (upcoming)

The Eleventh International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS)

Winners and Losers: Chinese Investments under the BRI Framework in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Milton Keynes (UK), 06/2019 (upcoming)

Development Studies Association conference 2019 at Open University

Opening up Development

Belts and Roads of Development: Chinese Investments in Central Asia through the Lens of New Structural Economics

Berlin (Germany)

Free University of Berlin, Institute of Chinese Studies, Expert Day talk at Prof. Genia Kostka Blockseminar

Governance of Infrastructure

Chinese Investments under the BRI Framework in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)

Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) and “Center for Analytical and Expert Support of the Silk Road Economic Belt Projects and Programmes” Joint Conference

Connecting Eurasia: What role for Central Asia?

Day 1 Wrap-up Remarks

Duisburg (Germany)

Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen Conference

40th Anniversary of China's Reform and Opening-Up: Institutional Change and Reconfigurations of China’s Political Economy

Greening Belt and Road: Emerging Regulatory Framework for China's Sustainable Overseas Investments

Geneva (Switzerland)

The Young Scholars Initiative of the Institute of New Economic Thinking and UNCTAD Summer School 2018

Money, Finance and Debt: Old debates, new challenges

Greening Belt and Road: Emerging Regulatory Framework for China's Sustainable Overseas Investments


Astana (Kazakhstan) 04/2018

Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS)- University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES) 7th Workshop on EU-China Relations

European and Asian Perspectives on China’s Belt & Road Initiative

Greening Belt and Road: Emerging Regulatory Framework for China's Sustainable Overseas Investments


Invited talks / lectures

  • November 2018, Berlin (Germany): Technical University of Berlin, Sustainable Urban Planning and Urban Design, Prof. Raoul Bunschoten course on Supply Chain Urbanism, held lecture on “Belt and Road 101”
  • June 2018, Almaty (Kazakhstan): KIMEP China and Central Asia Studies Center (CCASC) and Central Asian Studies Center (CASC) roundtable on “China, Kazakhstan and Environmentally Sustainable Finance”, presented on “Green Finance in China and the Belt and Road Initiative”