In sum, China and its “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) serve as the potential “engine” for Eurasian connectivity as well as Eurasian economic and social development. In turn, various governments — as well as large, medium, and small companies from across the world — stand to gain from China’s Eurasian initiative. It is worth noting that Ukraine amounts to yet another loss for China, given that Ukraine is yet another BRI-related investment for China. But aside from the basic cost-benefit calculus, Ukraine has broader and long-term implications for Eurasian connectivity and development. If left to its own devices, Ukraine and the conflict which is simmering there can undo everything from a BRI standpoint.
Also, BRI has been framed by Washington as a means or springboard for Chinese global domination and hegemony. But this framing of the issue out of Washington is perhaps inaccurate and misleading and it arguably amounts to self-projection, given that everyone around the world has learned to not repeat the mistakes Washington has made over the course of its policy of global hegemony during the last three decades. China also has a largely fair and balanced approach towards the issue of Israel and Palestine, unlike Washington’s approach to the issue, which is biased, backward, unjust, and mum to say the least. And instead of taking up any meaningful or useful foreign policy initiative, Washington has devolved and descended into stonewalling and stymying China as its main foreign policy initiative.
Of the six different dimensions or “corridors” of BRI which were highlighted in the previous blog post, the Eurasian dimension or corridor — which connects China to Europe through Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey — is essentially the heart and jewel of the whole scheme. The “payoff” or “utility” of the Eurasian dimension or corridor of BRI is higher than the payoff or utility of the other dimensions or corridors for all the parties and stakeholders involved.
In the midst of the conflict which raged in Afghanistan over the course of the last two decades, China decided to cast its lot largely with the Taliban, due to the idea that the government in Kabul which was propped up by Washington would not last for long. Thus, China arguably has “first dibs” with the Taliban, and as a result, Afghanistan can be utilized by China as an essential link of the Eurasian “corridor” or chain, alongside, Iran and Turkey.
China signed a major security and economic pact with Iran in March of last year. But the details of the pact — which at its core is a 25-year security and economic cooperation pact — is vague when it comes to details and specifics. Since it signed the security and economic cooperation pact with China last year, Iran has been largely distracted by Washington’s dangling of carrots as part of nuclear negotiations. But the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the United States have gone nowhere, thus buoying the chances that Iran is more inclined with ironing out the details and specifics of its cooperation pact with China in the coming years.
How Turkey fits into the whole scheme is more uncertain and vague than the position of Iran or that of Afghanistan, given that Turkey is a NATO member. Turkey has thus tried to maintain a balanced and hedged position vis-a-vis-à-vis the global competition between the United States and China. But in reality, Turkey has much to gain and does not have much to lose from integration into the Eurasian dimension or corridor of BRI, aside from bringing down the heavy hand of Washington upon itself from a diplomatic perspective.
Moreover, some sort of arrangement or order will have to replace and compensate for the gradual erosion of the American-led economic and security order, and the Eurasian dimension of BRI is essentially a starting point for such a replacement and compensation. Where Europe stands vis-à-vis this issue has been discussed in the previous blog post. And for observers and other stakeholders, the issue is one of “wait and see” as developments take shape over the course of time.