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At the Crossroads of Central and South Asia

This week’s featured graphic shows how Afghanistan’s location at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia ensures that its future will affect the dynamics of China-Russia relations in both regions. For more on The Taliban Takeover and China-Russia Relations, read Brian G. Carlson’s CSS Analysis in Security Policy here.

The Impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative on Central Asia and the South Caucasus

Image courtesy of thephilippena/Pixabay.

This article was originally published by the E-International Relations on 14 February 2020.

In September 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping first announced his strategic vision of “One Belt, One Road” (subsequently renamed the “Belt and Road Initiative” or BRI) during a speech at Nazarbayev University in the Kazakh capital. In essence, the BRI is a massive Chinese project, involving more than 130 countries, over $600 billion in existing commitments, and a total price tag estimated in the trillions of dollars, to redevelop the ancient Silk Road trade routes running between China and Europe. In his speech at Nazarbayev University, Xi suggested that China and Central Asia cooperate to build “the Belt,” the continental part of the Chinese vision, as opposed to “the Road,” the maritime segment. The choice to unveil this enormous project in a country with a relatively low international profile suggests the significance that China attaches to Kazakhstan specifically as well as the broader region in which it is situated. Indeed, Central Asia and the South Caucasus will be a key part of the BRI and home to a number of major associated projects.

Who Wins in China’s Great Central Asia Spending Spree?

Image courtesy of Kyle Glenn/Unsplash

This article was originally published by Eurasianet on 2 October 2019.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative seems to benefit only Central Asia’s richer countries.

Cynics often ask if China’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has increased trade between China and its neighbors, or if it threatens to trap participants in debt. There are myriad reasons why countries sign on to the BRI. Some seek to plug gaps in domestic infrastructure, some to improve global trade ties, and some because China, with its population of 1.4 billion, is an attractive market for their goods.

Impact of the US-Iran Confrontation on Central Asia

This article was originally published by the Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst on 3 October 2019.

Increasing political and economic pressure on Iran, exacerbated by the renewed economic sanctions resulting from the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has led Tehran to seek support from the two major Eurasian political and economic powers Russia and China. Iran has also increasingly turned its attention toward its neighbors in Central Asia, which remain closely integrated into the political, economic and military projects of Moscow and Beijing. Central Asian leaders are well aware that a possible armed conflict between the U.S. and Iran would adversely affect Eurasian security.

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Overlapping and Nested Regional Cooperation Formats in Central Asia

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This graphic charts how the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) overlaps with other regional cooperation formats in Central Asia. For more on the SCO, its current and future relevance, and whether Europe should engage with the organization, see Linda Maduz’s comprehensive study Flexibility by Design. For more CSS charts, maps and graphics, click here. Click image to enlarge.