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Tag: China

A playground for influence

The Black Sea region is once again becoming an arena attracting large powers to invest and develop. However, the growing interest among the various powers also leads to a higher risk of conflict and confrontation, something that this region is already known for, historically.

Hellenes referred to the Black Sea as Póntos Áxeinos which derives from the ancient Persian word axšaina used to describe objects of dark colour. The Black Sea region has, historically speaking, been an arena of confrontation between different nations. It has witnessed the glorious rise of empires as well as their crushing defeats. During the heyday of the Ottoman Empire, the Black Sea was referred to as an “Ottoman Lake”. European states have also been historically involved in the disputes over the region.

August 26, 2019 - Leo Sikharulidze

Remembering 1989: Sometimes, the goddess of democracy doesn’t triumph

As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the events that led to the reunification not only of Germany, but also of Europe, we would be wise to recall the cautionary message of those who sacrificed their lives on Tiananmen Square.

May 14, 2019 - Matthew Kott

Georgia between Russia and a rising China

China’s economic and military rise is arguably one of the central themes of 21st century geopolitics. As Chinese investment and interest in Georgia increases, Tbilisi must consider the geopolitical potential that a closer relationship with China might bring to a country long marginalised and weakened by Russia.

Like many other rising powers throughout history, China bears strategic imperatives that clash with those of the United States. Beijing needs to secure its procurement of oil and gas resources and to diversify transportation routes, as it currently relies on the piracy-ridden Malacca Strait. In an age of American naval dominance, the Chinese imperative is to redirect its sectors of economic dependence – as well as its supply routes – elsewhere.

March 5, 2019 - Emil Avdaliani

Belarus in the multipolar world

Strong political and economic ties with Russia prevent Belarus from becoming a fully neutral and independent state. And any change of geopolitical orientation or integration with the West is out of the question. The only option Minsk has, if it wants to maintain sovereignty, is to find its place in the multipolar world, one that is now coming into view.

Recent talks about the possible incorporation of Belarus into the Russian Federation have brought wide attention to the country and its place in the changing world. It sparked a series of discussions on Belarus’s neutrality and multipolarity, which have been the foundation of the republic’s foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union. First stipulated in Article 18 of the 1994 Constitution, it was repeated and further developed in official state documents. Yet for almost two decades, these two important principles were reduced to words on paper while the behaviour of the Belarusian authorities, especially President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, displayed a completely different approach. Indeed, almost since the beginning of his rule, Lukashenka was tightening co-operation with Russia. The milestone agreement in this regard, concluded in 1999, established the Union State of Russia and Belarus.

March 5, 2019 - Krzysztof Mrozek

China takes it all in the Black Sea region

China is becoming a major player in the Black Sea, to the advantage of the countries of the post-Soviet space and under the sometimes concerned eyes of Russia and the European Union member states.

February 19, 2019 - Michael Eric Lambert

Georgia in the move to a multi-polar world

Georgia finds itself in an increasingly multipolar environment. Internal tensions within the West mean Georgia can no longer count on the same policy stability from its traditional partners.

The flag of the European Union remains ubiquitous on the government buildings of a country on Europe’s outermost fringes: Georgia. Tbilisi International Airport welcomes visitors with signage highlighting Georgia’s status as an “EU-associated state”. The platforms of all its leading political parties include an aspiration to join not just the European Union but NATO as well. Ten years after Georgia’s war with Russia, Tbilisi’s geopolitical orientation appears unwavering, as frozen as the conflicts with the Russia-backed breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

January 2, 2019 - Maximillian Hess

The future of Chinese investment in the Caucasus – The case of Abkhazia

China is balancing its investments with large doses of pragmatism in the Caucasus. Internationally recognized partners or not, work on the Belt and Road Initiative must proceed.

September 20, 2018 - Michael Eric Lambert

Belarus: A Chinese Solution?

Lukashenko's skilful navigation in between Russia and the EU suddenly gains another dimension as the Belarusian strongman opens up his country to China.

July 31, 2018 - Tomasz Kamusella

China’s Belt and Road Initiative – A project of trade and diplomacy

China’s ambitious quest to recreate the ancient trade routes into Europe is slowly taking shape. What does China’s growing presence mean for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus?

April 18, 2018 - Mihai Chihaia

The dragon in the room

Despite China's assurances that Baku-Beijing-Tbilisi relations are to be based on the principle of equilibrium, with economic gain being the sole motivation, the impression of political dominance is hard to avoid. It is estimated that the old patterns of regional rivalries will further change with China’s expansions westwards, with China becoming a regional stabiliser.

January 30, 2018 - Małgosia Krakowska

Russia is taking Armenia for granted

Interview with Richard Giragosian, the director of the Regional Studies Center (RSC) think tank in Yerevan, Armenia. Interviewer: Małgosia Krakowska.

December 1, 2017 - Małgosia Krakowska

The new Great Game that is not

The idea that Central Asia is the nexus of a Great Game between the world’s superpowers is, in the 21st century, largely exaggerated. Undoubtedly, the Central Asian republics are actively engaging with the great powers by relying on their sovereign prerogatives and pursuing their own strategic goals. But this should be seen rather as a strategy of the local players than a competitive game orchestrated from Washington, Moscow or Beijing.

It is not uncommon to hear from academics and pundits alike that Central Asia is now at the centre of a new Great Game between the great powers (namely, the United States, Russia and China), as it was two centuries ago. The term, popularised by Rudyard Kipling’s 1901 novel Kim and first used by Captain Arthur Conolly of the East India Company’s Bengal Army in 1840, directly refers to the 19th-century competition between the Russian and British empires for control over Central Asia. An example of the pre-eminence of the metaphor in today’s intellectual circles is one of the latest books published on international politics in Eurasia, edited by Mehran Kamrava, titled The Great Game in West Asia, which claims that there indeed is a new great game afoot in the region.

Though vigorously denied by those policy-makers actually involved in the politics of the region, and often criticised by more nuanced and context-aware regional observers, the Great Game is still a widely adopted and popular metaphor, rooted in geopolitical thinking and aimed at simplifying the reality. It refers to the competition between the abovementioned states to vie for influence over and in the region, as well as to the conflicts that their different strategies may elicit in the near future. In the Great Game narrative, the five Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are the board on which the game is played.

October 31, 2017 - Filippo Costa Buranelli

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