Traders from China, a ubiquitous presence in the region's bazaars, represent Beijing's growing influence in an area once dominated by Russia.
Beijing's deepened connections to the energy-rich countries on its Western border represent a significant geopolitical shift—one the U.S. ignores at its peril.
It's in China. Welcome to Urumqi.
Once firmly within Russia's sphere of influence, the energy-rich region has increasingly turned east, altering the balance of power.
Beijing is keen to increase its involvement in the country following the planned U.S. withdrawal in 2014. But security problems may interfere.
In the ex-Soviet states of Central Asia, China's influence is only beginning to grow.
The U.S., China, and Russia are taking a different approach to this region, long a chessboard for great powers.