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Tag: China

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

Russia is unprepared for the next world order

An interview with Bobo Lo, expert on Russia and China and author of the books Russia and the New World Disorder and A Wary Embrace: What the China-Russia relationship means for the world. Interviewer: Adam Reichardt

ADAM REICHARDT: It has been two years since you published Russia and the New World Disorder in which you concluded that Russian foreign policy is not well suited for the current geopolitical context. Yet, if we look at Russia since 2015, it has projected itself as a strong country, one that can defend against sanctions, intervene in Syria, advance its interests in its near abroad and project an image of itself as a real global player. Would you still argue that same thesis today?

BOBO LO: This is a question I often get asked. I stand by my original thesis. True, Russia is not going to become a minor power straight away, the regime will not collapse anytime soon, and Russia will not buckle under western pressure and be forced into concessions. However, we need to look at Russia and the world in the longer term. What will happen over the next decade, two decades, three decades and beyond? Can Russia adapt to a world that is changing in all sorts of uncontrollable and unpredictable ways? This is about much more than just Russia’s interaction with the United States, the United Kingdom, France or Germany. It is about whether it can operate effectively in a more complex, disaggregated and disorderly international environment crowded with competitors – not just the West and China, but many others as well.

October 31, 2017 - Adam Reichardt Bobo Lo

Pyongyang’s Russian sentiment

North Korea continues to play on a one man team as its nuclear tests only deepen the country’s isolation. South Korea, the United States and Japan are actively involved politically on the Korean peninsula but their goals rarely focus on issues other than international security. However, there are countries for which Kim Jong Un's regime is not only a target for international sanctions and criticism, but also an economic partner. China and Russia are part of that club. Paradoxically, maintaining good relations with Kim’s regime is important for Moscow as any potential dominance in Asia partly depends on Pyongyang’s support.

June 23, 2017 - Grzegorz Kaliszuk

Chaos or Stability

This piece originally appeared in Issue 2/2017 of New Eastern Europe. Subscribe now.

May 16, 2017 - Marcin Kaczmarski

The East-West polar front

The relations between Russia and the United States have not been so bad in a long time. Arguably, they were warmer in the 1980s. Undoubtedly the tense situation will not be improved by Russia’s increased military activity. The involvement of Moscow in the Syrian conflict, the deployment of Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, the announced restoration of military bases in Cuba and Vietnam and the blockade of French resolution on Syria at the UN Security Council are only a few examples of the Kremlin recent foreign endeavours. It would be worthwhile to spare a thought for the Cold War-like state of relations between East and West, as it is difficult to avoid the reflection that the world has somewhat gone back about four decades.

November 2, 2016 - Grzegorz Kaliszuk

Will Chinese investment sacrifice Ukraine’s dreams of democracy to economic needs?

After years of rapid economic growth, bold policymaking and shrewd business tactics, China has become a global player. With its business interests expanding at every opportunity, China’s power now rivals that of the United States. In Eastern Europe, China’s strategic engagement is focused on Ukraine.

September 9, 2016 - Olga Oleinikova

Making Sense of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Enlargement

The conversion of India and Pakistan into full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) during the summit in Tashkent highlights the importance of the stabilisation of the wider Asian region. This will be the organisation's first ever enlargement since its inception in 2001 when Uzbekistan, having no direct border with China, was impressed by the Shanghai Five's performance in reducing conflict potential along China’s border with the Central Asian states. Having observed the organisation's growing potential Uzbekistan chose to join. At this point the the group changed its name to the SCO and outlined principles that would shape their fair and mutually beneficial cooperation. The chief principle was the status of partners. Introducing equality to the region, formerly dominated by Russian-led blocs, critically separated the SCO from any other organisation.

June 20, 2016 - David Erkomaishvili



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