On the photography front, our project has been gaining strong traction with both Mainland Chinese and Western outlets. In particular:
Southern Window (南方窗), a leading Chinese commentary magazine, has published our photo essay entitled “China’s Footprint Beyond Its Western Borders” or “西陲之外的中国足迹” which looks at China’s wide array of interests and Chinese trader communities in the Central Asia region.
Based on numerous interactions with local Chinese here in Shanghai, granted a limited research pool, one discovers that layman awareness of China’s numerous western neighbors is quite limited. China’s tourists still prefer to travel to Europe, Southeast Asia and the US, and apart from specific industries (infrastructure, oil, gas etc) and goods trade run from Xinjiang province, the Chinese man/woman on the street does not feel that Central Asia has any significant impact – economic or cultural – on their daily lives.
In other news, the Asia Society has also generously featured an interview and photo essay on Kygyzstan’s bustling trade bazaars. We visited pretty much every single major trade hub from Bishkek’s Doidoi Bazaar to Osh’s Osh, Karasuu and Jalalabad bazaars to interview Chinese businessmen who help faciliate the vital supply chain of Chinese-Kygyz (and Central Asian) trade. This did not deter us from capturing the vibrant color and noise of these trade hubs.
This comes after a successful private exhibit entitled “Beyond the Western Frontier: Mapping China’s Footprint in Central Asia” held at HSBC Shanghai. And Raffaello and I will be giving a talk at the Shanghai Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) at the end of July.
There are many dimensions of China’s presence in the region though the immediate focus tends to be on trade and commerce. In particular, the burgeoning popularity of Chinese language and culture is something we hope to share more of in due course.
If you are interested in featuring our photo documentary work on China in Central Asia, please preview our work here.