china strategies

Opinion |

Perhaps history is drifting apart from the west. For centuries, fame and fortunes were to be found in the west. Today it’s the East which summons all in quest for riches and adventures. Peter Frankopan, the British historian, is right. Sweeping right across Russia, Central Asia and deep into China and Indo-Pacific, a region that once took center stage is again rising to dominate global politics, commerce and culture.

Is this reviving the Silk Road? Of course, it’s. Announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Silk Road initiative, also known as China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI), aims to invest in infrastructure projects including railways and power grids in central, west and southern Asia, as well as Africa and Europe.

No qualms to say about Asian players who are cracking the whip in the 21st century’s Great Game by dint of tectonic geopolitical shift with the dawn of supercontinent—the fusion of Europe and Asia in terms of Eurasia. The robust Sino-Russian alliance in the wake of spectacular rise of China hints at East’s contemporary economic ascendance with the integration of its communities and markets by abruptly disrupting the US-dominated status quo.

Central Asia and deep into China and Indo-Pacific, a region that once took center stage is again rising to dominate global politics, commerce and culture

Today the whole world is witnessing that people, groceries, contrivances and finance to flow relatively freely across Eurasia again. Ain’t history repeating itself? For millennia, conquest, trade and migration have organically amalgamated Asia and Europe—the ebb and flow of great civilizations across this vast landmass spawned myriad political and economic dynamics.

Today it’s happening again. But the rebirth of supercontinent is not without jitters as new synergized geo-economic forces bring with them new political tensions. With the growing coherence of Eurasia, outlines of new world order are much more apparent as a consequence of relative decline of old hegemon—the USA. The skeleton of new world order will be contrived by who manages it and how it’s managed.

But one thing is much more evident that it is in this supercontinent, the future of democracy, of free markets and of global security arrangement will be decided: a perfect West versus the Rest. It’s not without reason that the US has the shared regional vision with India and Japan by renaming its pacific command as “Indo-Pacific” command.

Read more: China’s Xi aims to soothe ruffled feathers over the Belt and Road initiative

If this adverts to a future concert of powers in the region to balance Beijing’s power play, it will be a crucial yet incommensurate measure to tackle Chinese project that spans Asia and Europe. For China is very much mindful of the fact that the divide between Europe and Asia was an artificial, modern and Western construct. By x-ing out that fake construct, China is doing what no other power had the appetite for: conceiving of, defining and then managing Eurasia.

Surprisingly China is not steered by ideology but by the desire to revive and extend its historical position as the cultural, economic and military hub of the world. In sync with its economic heft, China makes its Eurasian vision inexorably more sturdy, discerning and enduring than simple balance strategies. The BRI is not only diluting the importance of the landmass’ sub-regions, but it’s upending the settled balance-of-power arrangement.

For example, India and European Union (EU) are striving hard to curb Chinese penetrating influence on Eurasia’s political, economic and security conversations. But both are failing miserably in terms of ascendency of racists like ludicrous Narendra Modis and Boris Johnsons who in turn are contributing to more schisms and disintegrations within their own precincts.

The skeleton of new world order will be contrived by who manages it and how it’s managed. But one thing is much more evident that it is in this supercontinent

Enthrallingly China is relentless in pursuing the BRI project: building infrastructure, facilitating trade and creating alternative global institutions; surreptitiously it’s proactive in exporting its political model—Chinese Capitalism, a unique blend of state capitalism and authoritarianism—to other countries in Asia and Africa. Whether it’s Trump’s America, Johnson’s England or even Modi’s India, the so-called democracies are more polarized than ever before.

It seems that liberal democracies are grinded to a halt by domestic crises while simultaneously giving Chinese model of governance a way to win the day. It’s not by chance that while pooh-poohing corruption, Imran Khan idealizes the Chinese model. I don’t know whether it’s the revenge of democracy or overall democratic failure?

So far as the Russo-Chinese alliance is concerned, it’s getting successful in exporting its Eurasian authoritarianism to other countries by integrating their two economic visions—the BRI and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). As an upshot, Europe now fractures, both from within and without because of ageing European societies struggling with reactionary populism and their borders are being chipped away by the BRI initiative.

Read more: Middle Eastern black swans dot China’s Belt and Road

Either act to preserve and expand its democratic miniature or be acted upon vis-à-vis BRI is the real acid test for the EU. The US, for its part, has expended blood and treasure over the past nine decades to maintain its privilege place but now in quest to balance Russia and China in the wake of ‘war on terror’, its power and influence are diffused between NATO, Central Command and recently renamed “Indo-Pacific” Command—each with their own strategies and legacies.

The challenge America is coping with is its hollow claim of sole leadership in the BRI world which is cohering and integrating faster than its institutional capacity to respond. In sum, beyond the Indo-Pacific arrangement of both US and India, Eurasian geo-politics will be defined by the provision of finance and technology, of connectivity and trade and a willingness to accommodate diverse political arrangements which is none but the BRI.

Maybe the days of liberal world are being numbered to let Pac-Sinica finally unfold—the dawn of 21st century as a Chinese Century or, in a more broad sense, Asian Century.

Author is a lawyer based in Islamabad and currently working with a law firm namely Kharal & Co.  Contact# 0313-1440088

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.