April 7, 2015
Translated by Kristina Rus
The Chinese concept of a “New Silk Road” acquired new important features – Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, Wang Yi, announced about the plans for establishment of the China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor. Thus, the trans-Eurasian road will go two ways – Europe and China will be connected through Russia and through Central Asia. And this is not economy, it’s pure geopolitics.
Russia’s turn to the East has a distinct Chinese accent, and although it is not limited to China, it is clear that the attraction between Moscow and Beijing is strategic in nature, and much depends on the ability to coordinate the interests and efforts of the two countries. And not only for Russia and China – for all of Eurasia, and hence for the whole world.
This is not an exaggeration – the struggle between the Atlanticists and Eurasianists becomes the main feature of the coming decades: to stop the advance of global Anglo-Saxon project, it is necessary to not just assemble all the opponents, but also to build an alternative international architecture – from values to security, from finance to infrastructure and economy. The major world civilizations need to create their own project – the US version of globalization (the”free market” controlled by the Anglo-Saxon financial institutions under the supervision of the American aircraft carriers) will not go away on its own.
Geographically, the center of gravity of world politics has to move from the Atlantic and the West to Eurasia and the East. Instead of “the United States plus Europe and Japan” emerges a single Eurasian space – China with Southeast Asia, Russia with the Eurasian Union and the EU. India, the Middle East, and Africa gravitate towards that trio.
That is, everything revolves around the Eurasian arc – this is a nightmare of the Anglo-Saxon geopoliticians, always fearing the emergence of the axis of continental Europe – Russia – Asia in any shape: previously – Berlin-Moscow-Tokyo, and now – Berlin-Moscow-Beijing. Instead, the Anglo-Saxons have always tried to pit the various continental powers and attract separate powers, preferably located at key transit points of Eurasia, primarily in Europe.
The current attempt to break Russia’s ties with Europe is aimed at preventing the potential union of Eurasian Russia, continental Europe and China – instead, the US is pushing the idea of the Trans-Atlantic partnership designed to provide a final attachment of Europe to North America (and in Asia promoting a similar Trans-Pacific partnership). For now losing the fight with the United States for Europe and turning to the East, Russia is not abandoning bets on Europe – just first it will collect the pieces of the Eastern section (Russia – China) of the “Triple Union”, and China will work in the Western direction.
The “New Silk Road”, officially known as “One belt – One road”, aims to provide a connection between China and Europe through Central Asia and through Russia. Until recently the Russian route was not officially voiced – the talk was only about Central Asia – which gave rise to speculation of our cheap Chinaphobes on the subject that the “New Silk Road” will kill all Russian plans to benefit from transit between Europe and China. But Van Ji talked about very specific things – Chinese-Mongolian-Russian corridor “will pass through the entire Eurasian continent”:
“Its appearance will mean the embodiment of the Chinese idea of building an economic belt of the “Silk Road” – “One belt – One road”, the Mongol idea of the “Steppe Road”, and the Russian idea of a Trans-Eurasian corridor”.
Thus, the “Silk Road” will take three routes – two over land and one by sea (that’s not counting the potential of the Arctic – which is discussed by Russia and China). Although the cost of sea transport is below ground, the “Silk Road” has a foremost geopolitical dimension, therefore, the most important of the three will, of course, become the Central Asian, which also pertains to Russia, because with the formation of the Eurasian Union at least two states in Central Asia are already in the same sphere with us.
The length is about six and a half thousand kilometers, most of which, four thousand, will go through the Chinese territory, from the Pacific coast to Xinjiang. Then the path goes to Kazakhstan, and from there to the Central Asian republics, enters Iran, and through Iraq and Syria goes to Turkey and Europe. There it will go through Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic and Germany. In addition, the Road will branch out.
Overall this is a huge investment of hundreds of billions of dollars, implying the construction of a transport and pipeline infrastructure. But the main thing – it completely changes the geopolitical situation in the region: it is clear that there can be no American troops and bases. In the case with Central Asia, Russia and China become guarantors of both economic and political stability of the region – what they already provide in the framework of the SCO – and almost the same functions, in agreement with Iran, they will have to assume in relation to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
The sea route will be just as grand – it will start in Guangzhou and will pass through Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia with access to the Indian ocean. From there bypassing India (which is of concern to Delhi, which is developing their own “Spice Road”) to the Red Sea (and also branches to the Persian Gulf and Africa, most likely Kenya), then through the Suez canal into the Mediterranean sea. The Road ends in Venice, where the land route will go as well. Crimea may become a separate entry point to Europe – such projects were considered by Beijing even before the Ukrainian events.
Since in the fall of 2013, XI Jinping put forward the concept of a “New Silk Road”, the Chinese were active in the preparatory work – and primarily, a political work. Last month, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, announced about the establishment of an investment fund “Silk Road Company”, which will undertake the implementation of the project – speaking about the amount of $40 billion. But money is only of a practical value, in addition not only the Chinese want to invest in the project, but also the Islamic countries, and the Europeans. In fact, joining the Chinese Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank by all the key European countries testifies to that.
The main obstacle in the way of the ground part of the Asian section of the project – is the need to provide the geopolitical conditions for its realization. The US has stirred up the greater Middle East – Iraq and Syria are in the flames of war, Afghanistan is more than explosive. But the promotion of the “New Silk Road” becomes a way of enforcing the peace – of course, one of many, but important.
The other part of the promotion of the project is what Russia and China will be doing together through the SCO (which will expand with Iran, through which the Road will pass), and Beijing through its contacts with Europe, which is extremely interested in the project. Today more than 60 countries have expressed interest in participating in the Road – that is, it is clear to all, why is it necessary that the regions through which it will pass, will have peace: the Chinese promise prosperity and stability, the same as two thousand years ago, during the first Silk Road.
What about the US? Washington talks about the benefits of the “New Silk Road”, but in reality, the States understand the consequences of its implementation – not just the failure of their Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific partnerships projects, but the final sunset of American power.
Therefore the war in the Islamic world will be heated by the States with a great zeal – so that no silk could not pass through the sea of fire. But even if the war in the greater Middle East will last a decade, it will not prevent the overland trade and a political union of China and Europe – because they will be connected by Russia. The new infrastructure developed in the framework of the “New Silk Road” in its Russian branch, will mark the sunset of the Atlantic and the rise of Eurasia.
Everything will fall into place.
Looks like China’s strategy of “trade and cooperate” is more successful then the American “divide and conquer.” Note the countries in the path of the Silk Road, which are all over the recent headlines. Once again the recent American ventures in the Middle East have pushed Russia and China together, and instead of putting all eggs in one basket, China will create two baskets (ground routes). This is a way bigger headache for the US then a potential union of Russia and Germany.