Eurasianet reported on December 15 that Kazakhstan’s Education Ministry has announced the opening of a Chinese-funded vocational school, known as a Luban workshop, located on the campus of Serikbayev East Kazakhstan Technical University in Oskamen.

According to the ministry statement, the facility enables “students to study advanced automotive technologies using modern Chinese equipment.”

On the sidelines of the Luban workshop opening ceremony in Oskamen, Chinese diplomats reportedly met with East Kazakhstan’s governor, Ermek Kosherbaev. Among the topics of discussions were agricultural issues, including irrigation, as well as potential sites for “bonded warehouses,” according to a regional government statement.

In remarks made at the opening ceremony, presidential advisor Malik Otarbayev noted that “Kazakhstan and China have entered a new stage of close bilateral relations.”

Otarbayev’s comments reportedly echoed those made a few days earlier by his boss, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who stated; “Kazakhstan aims to intensify interaction with China in all areas.”

Elsewhere in Kazakhstan, Al-Farabi National University hosted a study-abroad fair in which “about 45” Chinese institutions of higher learning participated.

Recall, China opened its first Central Asian Luban workshop in Tajikistan at the Tajik technical University in 2022.  

The Luban workshop at the Tajik Technical University

Tajik students are reportedly encountering the latest in ventilation and green energy technology.

Plans have been announced to also launch Luban workshops in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Globally, China has launched over two dozen Luban workshops, which Chinese state-run media has described as Beijing’s “calling card for professional education.”

Luban Workshops are a more recent development.  Named for an ancient carpenter today revered as the patron saint of builders, they are intended to be the vocational training equivalent of a Confucius Institute, designed to help staff the projects dotting the globe as part of China’s multi-billion-dollar infrastructure extravaganza, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).  

Since 2016, 20 Luban Workshops have opened in more than20 countries, mostly in the Global South but also in several European countries.