Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: China’s Eurasia Strategy
September 24, 2013
China’s Eurasia Strategy:Central Asia, Af-Pak, and the Middle East
Douglas H. Paal– Director, Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Pan Guang– Professor of History and Political Scinece, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences
Sarah Chayes– Senior Associate, Democracy and Rule of Law/South Asia, Carnegie Endowment
For the past decade the world has watched China develop and grow into a global economic power. By utilizing its large workforce and increasing its manufacturing China now stands as the second largest economy in the world. However, there has recently adopted a larger role on the world stage. The country recently committed 1,000 troops to the UN peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon, they are is the largest investor in Afghanistan, and, two weeks ago in Kazakhstan, President Jinping described a new partnership with the countries of Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan) and Russia, dubbed “the new Silk Road” that would bolster economic and security ties throughout the region. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace invited Professor Pan Guang to discuss China’s present and future strategies in Central Asia, its changing relationship with Afghanistan and Pakistan, and its interests in the Middle East.
According to Ms.Chayes these recent moves signify a shift in China’s global priorities, shifting its attention away from the economy and on to global policies and politics. It is beginning to outsource its wealth to the wider region. Though President Jinping’s “new Silk Road” is still just an idea, yet to be developed and implemented, Prof. Guang assured the audience that the initiative was discussed and agreed upon during Pres. Jinping’s recent tour of the region, and it will be a topic of major discussion at the 2014 CICA meeting in Shanghai. The aim of the project is to both bolster economic and energy cooperation and security for all countries involved but to also establish stronger security ties and intelligence sharing. Prof. Guang continuously underscored the fear that Central Asia and China have, that the U.S.’s departure from Afghanistan will increase instability and send violent radicals across borders and into China and Central Asia, potentially increasing violence, drug and weapon smuggling, and endangering the region’s energy and political stability; Prof. Guang noted that radicalism is becoming an increasing problem in China, some have used information gained over the Internet to arm themselves and go to Syria or attempt to set up terrorist groups in China.
Along with addressing security concerns the proposed partnership would tap new energy sources and bring greater energy security to Central Asia and China. Ms. Chayes. New pipelines, such as the Turkmenistan-China Gas Pipeline, are cutting out Russia and bringing diversity and security to their own energy markets. This new energy market not only strengthens China’s own energy security but will also further establish Xinjiang, which will serve as the country’s portal to Western Asia, and will allow for potential exports to neighboring Mongolia, India or across the Pacific. Ms. Chayes pointed out that tapping the Central Asian energy fields are not only of interest to China but also to the neighbors and also the U.S., and can serve as a future area of partnership as the U.S. shifts its focus to the Asia. As China works to enrich its surrounding region it will open up new opportunities and partnership that will progress the continent’s development.