Several hundred protesters including men on horseback rallied Monday against the construction of a Chinese Project in Kyrgyzstan, officials said, in the latest demonstration against Beijing’s growing influence.
The building of the $275 million logistics facility was agreed during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Central Asian Nation last year.
A police spokesman in Kyrgyzstan’s central Naryn region said more than 1,000 protesters took part in the demonstration.
Local media reports showed images of protesters, including riders on horseback carrying Kyrgyz flags.
“We won’t give Kyrgyz land to China,” placards at the demonstration read, a government representative of the remote and mountainous region said.
The representative, who requested anonymity, said protesters had been misled by rumours that the joint Kyrgyz-Chinese company in charge of the facility would keep the land it is being built on, rather than leasing.
Local activist Amanbol Babakulov said protesters had threatened “real steps” if authorities did not cancel the project by March 1.
The logistics hub is set to host a cluster of small businesses and factories that will enjoy trading preferences.
In August last year clashes between Kyrgyz villagers and Chinese employees at a Chinese-owned mine in Naryn left around 20 injured and sparked diplomatic condemnation from Beijing.
In 2016 neighbouring Kazakhstan saw nationwide rallies stired by fears that a reform to the land code would allow Chinese investors to take over Kazakh land.
The country’s authoritarian leadership abandoned the reform while cracking down on the protests.
Both ex-Soviet countries border China and are part of Beijing’s sweeping Belt & Road Initiative to build a massive Global Trade Network.