Ed: We’re pleased to bring you this podcast and accompanying essay by Mary Kay Magistad, part of her new podcast series for the Global Reporting Centre, "On China's New Silk Road." In the series, Magistad, a former China correspondent for NPR and PRI, explores the impacts of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, reporting from different corners of the world where the project reaches to uncover where it came from, why it is being pursued and how it is viewed on the ground. In this, the second episode of the series, she travels to Kazakhstan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s capital, in 2013, seemed like another boring meeting worth skipping, according to Dulat Yesnazar, then a college student studying international relations. Xi had come to announce the launch of one of the most sweeping global infrastructure initiatives in history.