China is growing as a Eurasian power, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may provide a chance for China to better connect with the Eurasian region and pursue its geopolitical goals. Furthermore, the initiative reflects China’s desire to expand its influence in Eurasia and the rest of the world as part of its geopolitical goal of dominating the world island.
The Belt and Road Initiative is at the heart of China’s “Push-West” policy. From the standpoint of Halford Mackinder’s Heartland Theory, China may want to encircle the Heartland region, which is the world’s “Pivot Area.” However, China is also focused on marine routes, thus not entirely rejecting Mahan’s ideas of the Influence of Sea Power and Spykman’s emphasis on the vitality of the Rimland Region.
Understanding the actual matter
In September 2013, while addressing at a university in Kazakhstan the President of China Xi Jinping proposed the initial idea of the Belt and Road Initiative. In the address, he mentioned that:
“To forge closer economic ties, deepen cooperation and expand development space in the Eurasian region, we should take an innovative approach and jointly build an economic belt along the Silk Road. To turn this into a reality, we may start with work in individual areas and link them up over time to cover the whole region.”
Over the course of the next few years, China has actually turned this idea into a reality. Along with the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt, under the umbrella of BRI China has also established Maritime Silk Road. With the realization of the Belt and Road Initiative concept, China’s influence in the territories adjacent to the routes has grown dramatically. This writing especially focuses on the subject “whether China can go for world dominance”.
In the context of an escalating rivalry between the United States and China, it is critical to understand both states’ aspirations. This article will aid in determining whether China has any aspirations for world hegemony. In addition, it will determine if China has the capacity to establish global dominance.
Read more: Eurasian railway revolution is the future
This study evaluates the Chinese Eurasian power and global ambitions using three main geopolitical concepts. These include Halford Mackinder’s Heartland Theory, John Spykman’s Rimland Theory and Alfred Mahan’s Theory of Sea Power. According to Heartland theory, the heartland region is the Pivot Area and it consists of the Eurasian land. Mackinder says that “Who rules Eastern Europe commands the Heartland.
Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island. Who rules the World-Island commands the world”. However, when it comes to the explanation of the significance of the South China Sea, only Rimland Theory and Mahan’s ideas of influence of sea power hold relevant. Hence, a hybrid of geopolitical theories is used to throw light on China’s hybrid ambitions of power acquisition.
The significance of BRI
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has two facets that include the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and “ The 21st Maritime Silk Road”. Silk Road Economic Belt consists of three routes and six economic corridors. The Silk Road Economic Belt is consistent with Mackinder’s ideas of Heartland. China is building smooth routes from China to Europe, the Persian Gulf, South East Asia, and South Asia thus encompassing the Eurasian region (as depicted in the map).
Halford Mackinder had predicted that with the advent of infrastructure and railroad networks a single power would dominate the pivot area of Heartland due to greater connectivity. He had also warned that the Eurasian power will emerge as a challenger that would dismiss the supremacy of the maritime powers. Courtesy of the Belt and Road Initiative, China is becoming the power of Eurasia due to better infrastructure and faster connectivity and transport.
However, the second face of the BRI i.e Maritime Silk Road tells an entirely different story that can’t be resolved following Mackinder’s Heartland approach. Under the Maritime Silk Road, China is focusing to develop its maritime power. It is investing in the seaports like Gawadar Port, Chahbahar Port, Hambantota Port, and Djibouti Port. Marine routes have always remained an important element in trade, economics and most importantly geopolitical influence. John Spykman while referring to the significance of the region having maritime capability said that “Who controls the Rimland rules Eurasia, who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world.”
While Alfred Mahan also stressed that “The history of sea power is large, though by no means solely, a narrative of contests between nations, of mutual rivalries, of violence frequently culminating in war”. When we observe the growing tensions between the US and China in the South China Sea, the statement of Mahan is quite right. Although China has power in the interior heartland region, the importance of the inner crescent region, which is mostly made up of marine regions, is compelling China to pay attention to this region as well. However, the US maritime power is way more than that of China and the US will give tough time to China in the South China Sea.
All of these things show the massive all-out approach of China
When it comes to the question of world dominance, China has not yet officially claimed that it has any such kinds of intentions in the future. But maybe China is not claiming so to swiftly implement its plan without a head-to-head collision thus following Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” that “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
Besides this, at the level of discourse, there is a view among some of the Chinese that China is spreading the development in the world by sharing its experience and lessons it had learned in the course of development. Also, the inland region had been left behind by the traditional maritime powers but now China will help them rise and rebalance the world. This element of inclusivity and presenting BRI as an alternative hint towards Chinese Global Ambitions, although it’s not directly being said.
China is becoming a more powerful Eurasian state, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may give an opportunity for China to better interact with the area and accomplish its geopolitical objectives. Furthermore, the project underscores China’s intention to extend its influence in Eurasia and the rest of the globe in order to achieve its strategic objective of ruling the world island. The Belt and Road Initiative is crucial to China’s strategy. According to Halford Mackinder’s Heartland Theory, China may wish to encircle the Heartland area, which serves as the world’s “Pivot Area.”
However, China is also focused on maritime channels, thus Mahan’s concepts of the Influence of Sea Power and Spykman’s emphasis on the vitality of the Rimland are not fully rejected. Chinese officials are Mackinderites, and they also believe in Nicholas John Spykman’s Rimland Theory, as evidenced by their massive infrastructure investment in Central Asia. The Belt component of the Belt and Road Initiative demonstrates a strong commitment to dominating economic routes to Europe via the Rimland. The Chinese, on the other hand, are staunch Mahanians. Leaders in China think that they must dominate Mackinder’s Heartland, Spykman’s Rimland, and Mahan’s sea routes.
The writer is a student at NDU Islamabad. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy