China's Eurasian Dilemmas: Roads and Risks for a Sustainable Global Power 2018935754, 9781786433824, 9781786433817, 1786433818, 1786433826

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China's Eurasian Dilemmas: Roads and Risks for a Sustainable Global Power
 2018935754, 9781786433824, 9781786433817, 1786433818, 1786433826

Table of contents :
Front Matter
Copyright
Contents
About the author
Acknowledgements
Acronyms and abbreviations
Preface: China, Eurasia and global order
1. China’s Eurasian footprint
2. Dangerous frontiers: beyond the CSTO and SCO
3. Great power miscalculations in wider Central Asia
4. China and Russia: divergent visions of multipolarity
5. The Putin timeframe: the limits of geopolitics
6. Linking the Silk Roads: the Belt and Road Initiative as the driver of Eurasian integration
7. China and the EU: the hidden balancer
8. The Eurasian end-game: from regional roles to sustainable global power
9. Conclusion: dystopic China or balanced order-building?
Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

JOBNAME: Ferguson PAGE: 1 SESS: 2 OUTPUT: Thu Jul 19 15:16:04 2018

China’s Eurasian Dilemmas

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JOBNAME: Ferguson PAGE: 3 SESS: 2 OUTPUT: Thu Jul 19 15:16:04 2018

China’s Eurasian Dilemmas Roads and Risks for a Sustainable Global Power

R. James Ferguson Director, Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies and Assistant Professor, Faculty of Society and Design, Bond University, Australia

Cheltenham, UK + Northampton, MA, USA

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© R. James Ferguson 2018 Cover images: Vladimir Putin © Kremlin.ru, reproduced under licence, www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en Xi Jinping © Foreign and Commonwealth Office, reproduced under licence, www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher. Published by Edward Elgar Publishing Limited The Lypiatts 15 Lansdown Road Cheltenham Glos GL50 2JA UK Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc. William Pratt House 9 Dewey Court Northampton Massachusetts 01060 USA

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Control Number: 2018935754 This book is available electronically in the Social and Political Science subject collection DOI 10.4337/9781786433824

ISBN 978 1 78643 381 7 (cased) ISBN 978 1 78643 382 4 (eBook)

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Contents About the author Acknowledgements Acronyms and abbreviations Maps Preface: China, Eurasia and global order

vi vii viii x xii

1 2 3 4 5 6

1 26 60 89 109

7 8 9

China’s Eurasian footprint Dangerous frontiers: beyond the CSTO and SCO Great power miscalculations in wider Central Asia China and Russia: divergent visions of multipolarity The Putin timeframe: the limits of geopolitics Linking the Silk Roads: the Belt and Road Initiative as the driver of Eurasian integration China and the EU: the hidden balancer The Eurasian end-game: from regional roles to sustainable global power Conclusion: dystopic China or balanced order-building?

Bibliography Index

143 180 213 231 238 329

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About the author Dr R. James Ferguson is Director of the Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies and Assistant Professor of International Relations in the Faculty of Society and Design, Bond University, Australia. He has been engaged in research, writing, teaching and publication roles, and is a member of several international relations and strategic studies organizations. He is actively involved in research and teaching in International Relations, European and Eurasian Studies, the Indo-Pacific Region, and global processes. He has a background in history, cultural systems and Asian affairs. He has presented papers on these issues in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Japan, India, Austria, Serbia, Indonesia and the UK. Recently co-authored books include China’s Quest for Global Order: From Peaceful Rise to Harmonious World and The Politics and Philosophy of Chinese Power: The Timeless and the Timely. He regularly visits Asia to assess new trends in regionalism and international relations.

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Acknowledgements I am grateful to all my colleagues, whose discussions and support have been invaluable in researching this book. Acknowledgement is made to the Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies (in the Faculty of Society and Design at Bond University) and to the Alan Chan Travelling Fellowship, which has helped facilitate regular travel to China. Particular mention must go to my life-partner and colleague, Rosita Dellios, for her patience and advice, to Alex Pettifer, Editorial Director of Edward Elgar Publishing, who has consistently encouraged this project since its initial conception, and to the generous help from his team at Edward Elgar Publishing.

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Acronyms and abbreviations ABM

Anti-Ballistic Missile

ADB AIIB ARF ASEAN ASEM BCIM-EC BRI BRICS CCP CDB CEE CICA

Asian Development Bank Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ASEAN Regional Forum Association of Southeast Asian Nations Asia-Europe Meeting Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Economic Corridor Belt and Road Initiative Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa grouping Chinese Communist Party China Development Bank Central and East Europe (countries) Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia Comprehensive National Power China–Pakistan Economic Corridor Collective Security Treaty Organization East Asia Summit Eurasian Economic Union (also often abbreviated as the EAEU) Group of 2 (as global leaders) Greater Central Asia Partnership for Cooperation and Development Human Development Index International Monetary Fund Indian Ocean Naval Symposium Indian Ocean Rim Association North Atlantic Treaty Organization

CNP CPEC CSTO EAS EEU G2 GCAP HDI IMF IONS IORA NATO

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Acronyms and abbreviations

NSR OBOR PLA PLAN RCEP SCO SLOCs SOE TPP XUAR

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New Silk Road One Belt, One Road People’s Liberation Army People’s Liberation Army Navy Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Shanghai Cooperation Organization Sea Lines of Communication State-owned Enterprise Trans-Pacific Partnership Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region

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Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin. Source:

Map 1 Eurasia: political map

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Source: Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), http://merics.org/en/china-mapping/silk-road-initiative.

Map 2 The Belt and Road Initiative

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Preface: China, Eurasia and global order This book provides a critical overview of China’s engagement with Eurasia, focusing on major issues that are emerging in the 21st century – issues that will need careful management over the next two decades. The Eurasian aspects of China’s evolution into a global power (and its attendant risks) have not been systematically or sufficiently analysed in popular or academic publications, owing in large measure to a tendency to position these debates alongside recurring China-threat narratives. China’s emerging role goes well beyond the standard ‘geopolitics’ of the Eurasian ‘chessboard’. China is seeking to evolve new agendas and relationships that avoid the dilemma posed by its ‘maturing’ (and slowing) economy and potential containment by the United States. Likewise, China’s current leadership has no wish to be captured by Russia’s assertive security policies. This gives the People’s Republic of China (PRC) a tight timeframe to establish itself as an essential arbiter in Eurasian integrative processes. Ongoing tensions between the United States and China have overshadowed the great drama that will be played out to mid-century: China’s potential evolution from an Asian regional player to a ‘new type’ of global power. The sustainability of this transition rests largely on how well China manages its ‘Eurasian footprint’, including economic, environmental and security factors. This will be a challenging task given divergent perceptions of global issues by Russia and China and a changing balance of power only partly moderated by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The integration of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road into ‘One Belt, One Road’ – now officially translated into English as the Belt and Road Initiative (see Bērziʼna-Čerenkova and Una 2016) – will be a complex task, forcing China into intensified engagement with conflict-prone regions including wider Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. This is complicated by the failure of any single organization to manage Eurasian affairs as a whole: the SCO’s leadership potential is reduced by different visions of the organization by China and Russia, while Russia’s key regional organizations (the Collective Security Treaty Organization, xii

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CSTO and the Eurasian Economic Union, EEU) are largely aligned towards the west of the Eurasian landmass. Improved relations with other developing powers are central to China’s future agenda. China has been keen to use a nuanced vision of functional multipolarity as a way of not only reducing tensions with the United States but also positioning its future relations with Russia in a wider context. The BRICS grouping, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is useful in this agenda, but by itself is not enough to ensure a multipolar Eurasia. Here, a new wave of positive diplomacy towards the European Union (EU) and key European states, including Germany, the UK and France, has provided a more comprehensive approach to Eurasian cooperation. In spite of past tensions (over human rights and trade issues), China is increasingly seen as a potential partner in dealing with a wide range of governance issues which are central to Europe, for example global economic growth, sustainable development, environmental management, the continued stabilization of Afghanistan, and future energy security. However, a more active phase of managed and interdependent multipolarity may need to emerge before a balanced multilateral system can emerge in wider Eurasia, let alone on the global stage. China’s prosperity and security rests on its ability to moderate these aspects of the ‘Eurasian process’. The sustainability of China’s global role depends on how well it can manage new cooperative relationships that have so far eluded Russia and the United States. The book addresses these issues by first assessing how well China’s ‘Eurasian footprint’ can serve as a basis for its evolution as a cooperative global power without ensnaring it into security dilemmas attendant on the need to reform regional and global institutions (see Chapter 1). Chapter 2 assesses two crucial organizations that provide important but limited security roles, the Russian-led CSTO and the SCO, where China has more influence. The need for these groups, and their operational insufficiency, is demonstrated in Chapter 3, where great power miscalculations have led to ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, uneven or fragile governance across Central Asia, and have set limits on Eurasian economic integration. These limits are influenced by different visions of future order held by China and Russia, in spite of their strategic partnership and evolving leadership dynamics (as explored in Chapters 4 and 5). Chapter 6 analyses the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as an economic and geopolitical project, now linked to security, sustainability and environmental concerns in an expanded network that will have enduring influence on the future global economy. An important aspect of this dynamic is the deepening engagement with Europe as a potential co-balancer in Eurasian affairs, thereby reducing

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tensions that have emerged with both Russia and the US (Chapter 7). The outcomes of these processes are explored in Chapter 8 and Chapter 9, with China needing to engage in serious institutional learning to avoid a dystopic Eurasian future or a new bipolar order dividing Eurasian networks from US alliances. If Eurasia is not merely a Chinese affair, then in turn China’s interests and needs have now become a global concern.

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1. China’s Eurasian footprint The Eurasia we speak of in the 21st century focuses on interactions: China’s engagement with wider Central Asia and Russia, Russia’s ‘pivot’ to the east, the complex dynamics of Central Asian nations, and the economic and geopolitical engagement of a range of bordering actors (the EU and India) or engaged ‘external’ states (the US and Japan). This Eurasian landscape is beset by major challenges that are the drivers of 21st-century global politics, including competition for energy and resources, intensified patterns of transnational terrorism, and the quest for ‘new’ great power relations. The wider region is a volatile mix of accelerated modernization and underdevelopment, ranging from the futurist landscape of Astana, the glittering capital of Kazakhstan, through to the mountainous, poor and conflict-prone borders of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Rather than being a mere periphery, however, the Eurasian heartland is now seen as a key zone for enhanced connectivity that is crucial for Chinese and Russian economic development, for governance initiatives in support of global security, and the nexus for interregional cooperation. Instead of a single geo-strategic chessboard, it is better to consider Eurasia as a set of unfinished developmental agendas, poorly coordinated integration processes, and clashing ‘grand strategies’ that shape the lives of over four billion people (see Sakwa 2016a; Fallon 2015; Cohen 2005; Brzezinski 1998; Dawisha and Parrott 1994). Eurasian processes will need careful management in the medium term to ensure stable interregional flows to the West and East and to avoid rebound and ‘blowback’ effects that could further destabilize global cooperation. The past interventions in Afghanistan and the ongoing crisis in Syria, with its attendant flow of refugees and fractious religious politics, are two clear warnings that destabilized states at interregional linkage points can have vastly amplified transnational effects. In this context, China’s deepening engagement in Eurasian affairs and its evolution into a global power (with its attendance risks) have not been systematically or clearly analysed in popular or academic publications, partly due to a tendency to position these debates alongside the mantra of the China-threat thesis (Mackerras 2015; Kaplan 2016). China’s emerging role goes well beyond 1

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the competitive, zero-sum ‘geopolitics’ of the Eurasian ‘chessboard’ or efforts to balance US, Indian or Japanese influence. China is seeking to evolve new agendas and shape relationships that avoid the dilemma posed by its ‘maturing’ and slowing economy, thereby minimizing the likelihood of strategic containment by the US and its allies. Likewise, China’s leadership has no wish to be captured by Russia’s confrontational military policies that could lead it into a more general conflict with the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This gives the PRC a limited window to establish itself as an essential arbiter in Eurasian cooperative and integrative processes, probably within a tenyear frame but certainly within two decades given current trends (see further Chapters 5 and 8). Continuing tensions between the United States and China have generally overshadowed the great drama that played out during the second decade of the 21st century: China’s evolution from an Asian regional player to a ‘new type’ of global power based on comprehensive continental and maritime capacities, both military and commercial. The sustainability of this transition rests largely on how well China manages its ‘Eurasian footprint’, including economic, environmental and security factors. This will be a challenging task given divergent perceptions of global issues by Russia and China and a changing balance of power that is not entirely moderated by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and new trans-Asian dialogue mechanisms. These processes include the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), the Heart of Asia Process, the Xiangshan Forum, and the Ulaanbaatar Process (a civil society process focused on Northeast Asian challenges, operating from 2015), for which China has expressed intensified support in recent years (Tiezzi 2014a; Enkhsaikhan 2016). At a formative stage, such groupings represent the beginnings of a networked Asia in which China has a central role. The ‘open regionalism’ approach is followed, but with a focus on avoiding formal alliances: A similar approach was evident in China’s annual regional security conference, the Xiangshan Forum. At its October 2016 meeting, there was a call for ‘partnership’ in maintaining security in the region (as distinct from an alliance system), adhering to the ‘family spirit’ in Asian culture, being inclusive (the United States and its allies were welcome), and avoiding a formal structure but instead encouraging a ‘comprehensive, multi-level and multilayered network’. (Ekman 2016)

However, these multilateral and multitrack groupings have yet to translate into security and managerial structures that are strong enough to consistently mitigate dangerous forms of great power competition and to

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manage human, energy and environmental crises that continue to galvanize the political landscape and population of Eurasia. This means that bilateral relations and their management, especially among great powers, remain crucial for Eurasia’s future, a fact well understood by Russia and China (see Chapters 4 and 5). China’s path to becoming a Eurasian, and not merely an Asian great power, however, is marked by serious challenges that require a new phase of foreign policy activism, proactive economic policies, and increased security roles. This can be seen not only in the singular case of the PRC’s enduring problems in Xinjiang, its main gateway into Central Asia, but also through a set of strategic dilemmas that have emerged as China’s rising power has increasingly enmeshed it in regional and global affairs.

CHINA AS THE EMERGING EURASIAN POWER Intensive patterns of energy competition and resource usage since the year 2000 have gradually evolved into a new form of geo-economics that, if completed, will greatly transform Eurasian economies and societies. This has moved past the stage of an ‘inadvertent empire’ of Chinese influence, or vague US formulations of a ‘Greater Central Asia’ linked to South Asia as suggested, but not funded, by the idea of a New Silk Road (NSR) from 2011 and the earlier 2005 proposal of a Greater Central Asia Partnership for Cooperation and Development (GCAP).1 Likewise, revised US policies by 2017 suggested a more regional approach towards Afghanistan, factoring in concerns about Pakistan and supporting Indian involvement, though not adequately engaging China, Russia, Iran or other concerned states (IISS 2017). In contrast, PRC-led initiatives are being announced and funded even before they are fully elaborated conceptually. The Silk Road Economic Belt (announced by President Xi Jinping from September 2013 during a visit to Kazakhstan) was linked to the Maritime Silk Road project as the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR), then further developed through the National Development and Reform Commission and authorized by the State Council in March 2015. This sweeping and complex agenda will lead China into intensified engagement with South Asia, the Middle East, parts of Africa, and eventually European states (NDRC 2015). In its complete form it would engage some 67 countries across three continents, with initial OBOR projects of around $250 billion being drawn from several institutions including the Silk Road Infrastructure Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the BRICS New Development Bank (Dong et al. 2016; Brewster 2015; Escobar 2015a and 2015b). This sum remains

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well below the infrastructure needs of the Eurasian region, estimated by the Asian Development Bank to be at least $800 billion annually, highlighting the need for further investment and development of OBOR (ADB 2016). Several major Chinese banks have been mobilized in related projects, including China’s Central Bank, the China Development Bank (CDB, the largest development bank in the world, with outstanding loans of about 200 billion euros), and the Export-Import Bank of China, in order to provide further investment that may well total over $1 trillion in the long term (Sajjanhar 2016; Bader 2015; Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016). The OBOR project was widely seen as the start of a major shift of the PRC’s prevailing economic model, necessary with growth slowing below 7 per cent per annum, though some see official figures as optimistic (see Emmott 2016). This new model would stimulate industrial needs and absorb excess capacity, generate new consumer demands both inside and outside of China, and increase resource access for China, while PRC industries would move up the technological ladder and engage more deeply in service and knowledge sectors (Preston et al. 2016; Fukuyama 2016). OBOR has since been expanded beyond the two Silk Roads into a widening network of corridors and maritime networks, retranslated as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is also meant to be a more inclusive and open term. Such a shift of Eurasia’s developmental path poses significant risks if it is underfunded, poorly managed, fails, or moves too slowly to stimulate both Chinese and partner economies (see further Chapters 6 and 8). Such projects are complicated by the failure of any single organization to manage Eurasian political affairs as a whole: the SCO’s leadership potential is weakened by different visions of the organization by China and Russia, while Russia’s key regional organizations (the Collective Security Treaty Organization, CSTO and the Eurasian Economic Union, EEU) are incompletely aligned towards the west of the Eurasian landmass. With the failure of a truly inclusive Eurasian Union (as had been proposed by Kazakhstan in the early 1990s), both the current EEU and CSTO tend to be driven by Russian security perceptions and position themselves as competitors or alternatives to the EU and NATO, creating new divides that make Eurasian integration ‘a fundamentally contested project’ (Sakwa 2016a, p. 113). Eastward, coordination is less contested, but security cooperation between the CSTO and SCO has remained limited (see Chapters 2 and 6). Coordination between the potentially competing projects of the EEU and BRI has begun with efforts to direct investment towards northern transcontinental rail and energy linkages, thereby enhancing connectivity among Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China as a new Continental Economic Partnership, evolving from

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discussions held at the July 2015 SCO Summit (Lo 2017a; Grieger 2016; Rambler News Service 2016; Albert 2015). In this context, mechanisms have been set up to reduce the impact of EEU external tariffs for transhipment hubs such as Kyrgyzstan,2 though these will benefit government more than business groups in the short term (Leonard 2015; Bowring 2014). Overall, Russian engagement in BRI has remained somewhat secondary, with China’s economic engagement across wider Central Asia increasing rapidly since 2012 (Lo 2017a). Improved relations with developing and established powers are central to China’s future. China has been keen to pursue a nuanced vision of functional multipolarity not only as a way of reducing the dominance of the United States, but also to position its relations with Russia in a wider context. The BRICS grouping (comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) can contribute to this agenda, but by itself this is not enough to ensure a multipolar Eurasia. Here, a new wave of positive diplomacy towards the EU and key European states, including Germany, the UK and France, has provided a more comprehensive approach for Eurasian cooperation. In spite of past tensions (over human rights and trade issues), China is increasingly seen as a valuable partner in dealing with a wide range of governance issues which are central to Europe, for example global economic growth, environmental management, the continued stabilization of Afghanistan, and future energy security (see Chapter 7). Intensified involvement in BRI projects would deepen cooperation between Europe and China more comprehensively than current bilateral ties, the ongoing China–EU dialogues, or the wider Asia–Europe Meetings (ASEM). Positive engagement with the EU will also have political benefits, allowing China to avoid over-reliance on Russia as a major security partner and arms provider, a trend that has gained momentum under unremitting US pressure. The prevailing phase of issues-based engagement gives Beijing added global influence while allowing the EU to make progress on a range of global governance issues including climate change, terrorism, transnational organized crime and nuclear non-proliferation (see Kirchner et al. 2016). China’s prosperity and security rests on its ability to moderate diverse aspects of the ‘Eurasian process’. The sustainability of China’s global role depends on how well it can manage new cooperative relationships that have hitherto eluded Russia and the United States. Some Western commentators have viewed these trends in terms of great power competition, ‘offensive realism’, as part of an emerging alliance with Russia, or suggest a coming Eurasian anarchy that will undermine the cooperation needed for Eurasia to be the basis of China’s future power (Mearsheimer 2015; McFaul et al. 2014). These concerns are largely

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informed by perceptions of Chinese and Russian weakness: domestic insecurity, slowing economic growth and a resultant assertiveness designed to capture nationalist audiences (Kaplan 2016). There is a certain irony to such analyses: Robert Kaplan, for instance, suggests that these states have the kind of reactive bellicosity often assigned to declining global hegemons (such as the US) in international relations theory, and has suggested a need for the West to set up ‘clear red lines’ backed up by military power. The BRI investment schemes are represented as ‘elegant aggression’, apparently directed against the United States while both the Russian and Chinese leaderships are described as having ‘their backs against the wall’ (Kaplan 2016). These descriptions profoundly misunderstand the leadership dynamics of both countries, and do not apply even to troubled states such as Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, which are more worried about transition dynamics to new governments than current economic pressures (Lo 2017a; Grove 2016a; Eurasianet 2016b). For Russian and Chinese commentators things look rather different. Russia is not only a state that can rebound against external challenges, but is one that may be able to set real limits on the expansion of Western alliances and influence across wider Central Asia. In turn, China, with its existing diplomatic linkages and military modernization, has the benefit of an effective economy that has non-Western features, including a strategic role for the state in key industries. It offers the concept of ‘co-development’ as a win–win strategy for countries around the world, and has increased flows of foreign investment and aid to support this agenda (Lukin 2016, p. 100). This has led to China becoming the hub of a new global interregionalism, with PRC trade, investment and diplomacy engaging Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and increasingly the Pacific Islands. China is emerging as a major trading partner for developing economies in these regions, but is also a leading source of investment, credit lines and soft loans. Likewise, Chinese aid programmes have been increasingly mobilized in support of the PRC’s foreign policy and form a major alternative for Western-based aid and development funds (Contipeli and Picciau 2015; State Council Information Office 2011). Recent trends suggest this may be further extended by limited but real cooperation with the European Union (via the High Level Strategic Dialogue) and potential cooperation in relation to Eastern Europe and the Middle East (see Chapter 7). In particular, China has moved to deepen ties with several Middle East states during 2015–18. The China–Egypt comprehensive strategic partnership has evolved from 2014, mainly based on economic interests being expanded by BRI investment in the New Suez Canal economic

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corridor. It has since developed a strong strategic potential in relation to declining US influence, balancing Egypt’s re-engaged relations with Russia and the EEU, and its continued maritime significance along crucial sea lines of communication or SLOCs (Chaziza 2016; Trickett 2017a). Likewise, from January 2016 Beijing agreed to expand its cooperation with Saudi Arabia in a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’, going beyond energy and arms deals (Xinhua 2016a). This pattern of regional engagement remains selective, due to security crises in Syria and Iraq, including a new wave of transnational terrorism driven by Islamic State. However, this has not undermined a pattern of increased economic and political cooperation, with China gradually edging towards a more active role in Afghanistan and Tajikistan (see further below). Recently, China has signalled some increased military cooperation with Syria, initially focused on training and humanitarian aid, plus expanded investment in the Syrian energy and telecommunication sectors (Akulov 2016). China has also sought a level of diplomatic engagement, sending its own special envoy to keep in touch with the involved parties to the conflict, hoping for an eventual government of national reconciliation (Xinhua 2017b; Luft 2016). Several writers have emphasized a long-term pattern of cooperation between Russia and China, and even the possibility of an eventual global alignment balancing US-led global alliances (Charap et al. 2017; Lukin 2015b; Blank 2016). This alignment is based on economic, realist and prestige factors focused on Eurasian resources: To summarize, the assumption is that status-seekers Russia and China have chosen a pond of considerable strategic energy resources – Eurasia – to push each other upward in the ranking system of states and to create an alternative to the unipolar order, an alternative that can boost their own sense of prestige and status. (Flikke 2016, p. 161)

Though this seems a logical extension of the soft-balancing agenda of China and the SCO against US influence within Eurasia, the evolution towards a formal alliance is far from certain (Lo 2017a; Clarke 2013). China has been highly critical of alliance systems as undermining international order in the Asia-Pacific, and prefers to channel relations through cooperation and friendship treaties or strategic partnerships. Modern China has invoked the terminology of ‘friendship’ or friendly cooperation in over 17 of its treaties, for example The Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation Between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation (2001) and the China– Pakistan Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good-Neighbourly

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Relations (2005). PRC has such agreements with Japan, North Korea, Mongolia, Yemen, Nepal, Afghanistan, the Republic of Guinea, Ghana, Tanzania, Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, with such terminology usually reserved for countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe rather than with the West (Devere 2014, p. 188; Leallsla 2009, pp. 179–81). Increasingly over the last two decades the flexible terminology of ‘partnerships’ (Cihai) has been deployed, with China having over 50 of these special relationships (47 with states and three with international governmental organizations by 2014), with the most recent of these with Switzerland being labelled an ‘innovative strategic partnership’ (Feng and Huang 2014; Xinhua 2016c). As noted by Premier Wen Jiabao, speaking of the Sino-EU comprehensive strategic partnership: By ‘comprehensive’, it means that the cooperation should be all-dimensional, wide-ranging and multi-layered. It covers economic, scientific, technological, political and cultural fields, contains both bilateral and multilateral levels, and is conducted by both governments and non-governmental groups. By ‘strategic’, it means that the cooperation should be long-term and stable, bearing on the larger picture of China-EU relations. It transcends the differences in ideology and social system and is not subjected to the impacts of individual events that occur from time to time. By ‘partnership’, it means that the cooperation should be equal-footed, mutually beneficial and win-win. The two sides should base themselves on mutual respect and mutual trust, endeavour to expand converging interests and seek common ground on the major issues while shelving differences on the minor ones. (In Feng and Huang 2014, pp. 7–8)

Put simply, China has no interest in a formal military alliance with Russia, nor of forming anti-US or anti-Western blocs, though both countries are critical of the existing system of global economic governance and are preparing for a more multipolar world order (Fu 2016; Barrett 2015; Feng and Huang 2014). Until recently, Sino-Russian relations could be typified as a ‘limited, defensive strategic partnership’ driven by external factors including threat perceptions of a pre-emptive and unilateralist United States (Li 2007). However, trends within Eurasia and wider Central Asia have begun to deepen the Sino-Russian relationship. Russia and China have engaged in major trade deals, for example the 2014 agreement for a $400 billion expansion of gas exports to China via new pipelines, part of a wider Russian effort to ‘pivot’ to Asia due to complications in trade with the EU since 2013 (for complications in this process, see further Chapters 2 and 5). Both countries have deepened their cooperation via expanding

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SCO and BRICS agendas, linking elements of their BRI and EEU projects, and engaged in major bilateral military exercises during 2014– 17. In joint naval exercises in the East China Sea in 2014 there was a shift of focus from earlier ‘peace missions’ or non-traditional security threats towards ‘naval combat’ () and ‘over the horizon’ () capabilities, viewed ‘as the most effective tactics against US carrier groups ( )’ (Goldstein 2016). Joint exercises in 2015 were undertaken in the Black Sea, and probably involved anti-submarine warfare exercises, indicating China’s ability to cooperate with Russia within NATO’s sphere of immediate interest. This was followed by July 2017 drills with the Russian Navy by a PLAN task force, including a new guided-missile air warfare destroyer and a guided-missile frigate, in the Baltic Sea, as well as a separate visit by a Chinese three-ship force to the Black Sea (Bruns and Kirchberger 2017). In August 2015 large drills were conducted in the Sea of Japan, involving surface components, submarines and aircraft, while strategic naval exercises in the South China Sea took place during September 2016 (Goldstein 2016). Overall, the pace of joint military exercises and dialogues has increased, with several ground and naval exercises of varying size each year (Weitz 2017). Initial coordination of strategies to counter US anti-ballistic missile (ABM) capacities has continued from 2013 onward, indicating a serious effort at countering the ongoing deployment of these systems along Russian and Chinese peripheries. These exercises at the least demonstrated increased deterrence against mounting pressure from US-led alliances, lay the basis for a shared operational capacity, and from 2016 may have used joint command information systems (Bruns and Kirchberger 2017). This goes well beyond mere moral support, with China and Russia having overlapping missile and anti-missile footprints over parts of Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula, and improved missile capacities deployed on naval vessels (contra Lo 2017a). It is thus possible to speak of a deepening entente and comprehensive partnership, if not quite a de facto alliance between these countries (Wang 2017; see further Chapters 4 and 5). Tensions with the West have meant that Russia has strong motives to continue its economic and strategic ‘pivot’ towards Asia, even though this transition is far from complete, with insufficient investment in Siberia and the Russian Far East, and Russia having a limited role in Asia-Pacific trade flows. Likewise, real differences remain in China’s and Russia’s international perspectives and their vision of how a multipolar order should function (see Chapter 4). If Russian interests are seriously taken on board as the BRI evolves, this could lead to a deeper partnership, but

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this will not naturally evolve into a defined military alliance. Not only is the PRC formally opposed to rigid military alliances, but it sees Russia as one among many major states with which it wishes to engage, including Germany and France, and hopefully, a return to a more positive relationship with the United States and India (Lo 2017a; Feng and Huang 2014, p. 17). This is one of China’s main rationales for the concept of ‘new great power relations’, even if this proposal has gained little traction to date. However, balancing and managing relations with Russia remains crucial for China’s wider Eurasian and global agenda. Failure to do this could push these two Eurasian nations into a pattern of covert strategic competition driven by an increasing power imbalance in Beijing’s favour. China under Xi Jinping has been moving beyond its earlier policy of keeping a ‘low profile’ and ‘biding its time’. This is not a matter of suddenly becoming more assertive due to internal weaknesses, but is rather a natural evolution of PRC capabilities as a widely empowered international actor. The trade, security and foreign policies of the PRC reflect a greater willingness to take the initiative and to establish rules and norms within adjacent regional groupings (Lukin 2016; Kizekova 2017). This can be seen in the formation of the SCO, the AIIB, the New Development Bank (founded via BRICS mechanisms) and the widening BRI project. In all of these China was a key founder, and a major shaper of institutional structures and policies. The PRC has played a leadership role in the implementation and funding of these relatively new organizations. OBOR itself has moved from being a grandly conceived initiative toward finding funding mechanisms, creating regulatory frameworks, and is now embedded across numerous bilateral agreements and strategic partnerships (Sheng 2017; Dong et al. 2016). Further, major infrastructure and trade-hub projects from the South China Sea to the Mediterranean are engineering an emerging set of economic, social and strategic relations that may well turn the PRC into a new kind of global power, but one also carrying a range of increased security responsibilities (Browne 2016; Ghiasy and Zhou 2017). If completed, this will position China as a leading, but not dominant, Eurasian power. However, longterm challenges and serious problems need to be faced in this transition. These include the need to cope with continuing internal problems in Xinjiang, as well as addressing a range of dilemmas that have intensified as China emerges as Eurasia’s most influential state, and as the world’s second strongest power in comprehensive terms (Dellios and Ferguson 2017, pp. 173–92).

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XINJIANG AND THE WEST: CHINA’S PROBLEMATIC PATH TO WIDER CENTRAL ASIA Xinjiang can be viewed as the heart of the Eurasian landmass, through which the diverse ancient Silk Roads passed, and even as the ‘pivot of Asia’ (Millward 2007; Starr 2004; Lattimore 1950). For China, it represented a north-western frontier area that was replete with dangers and opportunities, both historically and in the 21st century. It is the geographical pathway to contiguous states including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and potentially Afghanistan, and an economic gateway to wider Central Asia as a whole.3 As China engaged in its ‘open door’ policies and sought resources abroad, its trade with Central Asia increased from $456 million in 1998 to $30.5 billion in 2008, and reached $41.7 billion in 2014–15 (Owen 2016; Clarke 2013, p. 11). However, this double linkage (integration with the rest of China and a gateway to the West) provides not just opportunities but also serious contradictions for PRC’s Eurasian developmental policies (Clarke 2013, pp. 1–8; Rudelson 1997, pp. 39–70). As one of the PRC’s five ‘autonomous regions’, the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is an important strategic zone, a problematic border for controlling non-traditional security threats, and a key component in China’s engagement with wider Central Asia. It is an integral part of China’s internal Great Western Development project (Xibu da kaifa), launched in 1999–2001 and folded into subsequent five-year plans. Thereafter it was linked to visions of a Eurasian Continental Bridge and the Silk Road Economic Belt (Mackerras 2015; Clarke 2016b). This was a crucial test of China’s ‘harmonious society’ paradigm that included claims of inter-ethnic justice (Dellios and Ferguson 2013). Encompassing an extensive territory, the region faces growing ecological challenges even as its resources are being further developed. Xinjiang, which historically had been the eastern part of ‘Turkestan’ (a zone of Turkish cultural influence across much of Central Asia), is a test case for China’s ability to deal with security threats through balanced development. Governance crises in Xinjiang are closely observed in Central Asian states, while failures to improve relations with Uighur (also transliterated as Uyghur), Kazakh, Mongol and Hui groups would continue to embarrass Beijing across a number of issues. These include China’s human rights record, its claims of religious tolerance and its goals of improved development in its poor provinces and for all ethnic groups.4 Developments in Xinjiang indicate how well China can cope with diverse cultures and separatist trends. Also of interest are the

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demonstration effects for Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Taiwan. Likewise, international audiences both in the West and in Muslim communities as far west as Turkey have been deeply concerned about inter-communal, terrorist and state violence that has continued in the region even after the high point of the Xinjiang riots of 2009 (Mackerras 2015). One of the great ironies of Chinese history is that defence against northern and north-western invaders has often led to a de facto expansion outwards, a trend that began as early as the need to deflect the Xiongnu, a tribal confederation that engaged in extended conflict with the Han empire from the 2nd century BCE onward. Thereafter, numerous nomad ‘empires’, khanates and confederations either challenged or conquered China, utilizing the resources of the west and the north. This led to the complex pattern of state formation on the steppe, alongside periods of Chinese expansiveness to control parts of Mongolia, Tibet and Turkestan – be it through direct or indirect rule. The Han, Tang, Ming and Qing experienced diverse phases and strategies in controlling these borders, which came to embrace south-western areas including Sichuan, Yunnan and parts of Tibet. This expansion and its unsettled frontiers were never fully controlled by the various Great Walls (there were more than one), even when these lines were re-fortified under the Ming. Invading tribes such as the Khitan, Jurchen, Liao, Mongol and Manchu formed their own dynasties across all or part of China, but retained connections to the north and west, creating a complex dynamic between settled China, the border zones and various ‘nomadic’ groups. Xinjiang and central Turkestan were strongly influenced by the last tribal confederation, the Zunghars (also transliterated as Dzungar), who from the 17th century began building a modernizing state that controlled major Eurasian trade routes linking China, India, Russia and Central Asia (Barfield 1992). From the mid-19th century this was followed by an expanding Russian influence from the west and British power projection from the south-west that wanted Tibet and Afghanistan as buffer zones. Indeed, the Qing dynasty was determined to crush the Zunghars because of the fear that they would form an alliance with Russia and then erode Qing influence in Tibet, East Turkestan and Mongolia (Barfield 1992, pp. 277–96). The Qing dynasty took direct control of Xinjiang from 1750, interrupted by the Hui and Uighur rebellion of 1864 and the following rule of Ya’qub Beg from 1865 to 1871. The Qing resecured control in 1876–78 but decided that indirect governance was insufficient. It turned Xinjiang into a directly administered province from 1884, using the junxian system with the emplacement of Chinese officials, support for Han inward migration, and provision of Chinese schools (Millward 2007,

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pp. 132–46). In spite of some early progress, Xinjiang’s transformation foundered under a lack of funding, conflict among emerging war lords, separate Russian and Chinese Nationalist (GMD) interests, as well as diverse local needs that descended into the multi-sided conflict in the 1930s. Widespread discontent, including Turkish, Uighur and reformist Islamic aspirations (influenced by the Jadid educational movement operating across Central Asia), expressed itself through modernizing forms of nationalism. This led to the declaration of the Republic of East Turkestan in Kashgar, operating in 1933–34, with a partial revival and Soviet support from 1944 to 1949 (Millward 2007, pp. 169–231). These three rebellions gave the historical impetus to the idea of an East Turkestan independent from either Chinese or Russian suzerainty, an idea whose history remains highly politicized and contested (Hillman and Tuttle 2016). All these factors came into play in the politics of modern Xinjiang, a name literally meaning ‘new frontier’ but with implications of a territory only recently pacified (Millward 2007, p. 152; China Story 2012). The very use of this name has been debated, since it implies that the territory was recently acquired by China, rather than being within the sphere of Chinese influence since the Han period (Starr 2004, p. 6). Chinese control of the region was reasserted after 1949, when the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) First Field Army marched into Xinjiang, meeting limited armed resistance (especially in Kazakh areas) and counterrevolutionary ‘riots’ through 1956, but with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rapidly gaining control of the entire territory (Millward 2007, pp. 237–8). The nexus between development and secure control of this territory can be seen in the creation of one of Xinjiang’s most enduring institutions, the Production-Construction Military Corps, otherwise known as the Bingtuan. Based around demobilized soldiers (initially 103 000), migrants and dislocated youth recruited from the east (especially Shanghai), this militia had a role in protecting the border, but also in farming, construction, mining and industrial development, with the conglomerate controlling some 100 firms engaged in exports through the mid-1990s (Millward 2007, pp. 251–91). Numbers have grown to 2.6 million personnel, involving 175 state farms, 517 units involved in transportation and construction, and 1400 commercial enterprises, as well as colleges and technical schools (Zhu and Blachford 2016). It has an ongoing brief to ensure control not just of the western border but the wider territory of Xinjiang itself: So Bingtuan’s 74,000 km2 administrative area is largely along the abovementioned edge areas of deserts and mountains, as well as geographical

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China’s Eurasian dilemmas borderlands, rather than typical oasis areas in Xinjiang. This principle remains in place for Bingtuan’s current operation and this has been one of the strategies used with the intention of avoiding intermingling and conflict with local ethnic groups. In recent years, Bingtuan began to build up ‘ecologically sound economic networks of Oasis, with contiguous fields, crisscrossing canals, ubiquitous forest belts and radiating roads’. In fact, the geopolitical importance of Bingtuan’s administrated areas is that Bingtuan actually created a territorial fragmentation in Xinjiang, meaning that ethnic minority populated areas and Bingtuan-controlled areas are interlinked but not integrated. Therefore, Bingtuan set up a critical control element in territorial governance, making the large areas exclusively controlled by ethnic minorities more fragmented. This makes Xinjiang more ‘the frontier of settlement’ rather than a ‘frontier of control’, and also indicates Bingtuan’s potential spatial expansion in Xinjiang. (Zhu and Blachford 2016, pp. 35–6)

The development of autonomy (zizhi) as a concept for managing ethnically diverse areas in China has a complex history, partly based on the need to recognize the special needs of these groups but to avoid any route towards either a federalized system or towards true independence (He 2015; Zhu and Blachford 2006). Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region was created in 1955, but has only limited policies favouring local culture. There is inadequate support for the presence of diverse nationalities in local administration and their induction into provincial cadres. Local languages are only partially used in publishing and education. In contrast, Chinese soon came to dominate most official and education forums, even when presented as part of a bilingual strategy to aid the advancement of locals in higher education and employment (Millward 2007, pp. 242–5 and 343–6; Dwyer 2005; Zhou 1992). The largest ‘indigenous’ ethnic group in Xinjiang are the Uighurs, though this itself is an umbrella term covering eight modern subgroups with only partial linkages to the ancient Uighur empire (and later related groups) that supported the Tang dynasty down past 840 CE (Rudelson and Jankowiak 2004, pp. 302; Millward and Perdue 2004, pp. 40–42; Millward 2007, pp. 42–53). Indeed, a pan-Uighur identity was strengthened in the late 19th century as a reaction to the increasing Chinese and Han presence (Starr 2004). Modern Uighurs comprise some 46.4 per cent of Xinjiang’s population, compared to 39 per cent Han, 7 per cent Kazakh, 4.5 per cent Hui (‘Sinic Muslim’), plus smaller groups including Mongolians and Russians, based on 2010 Census figures (Mackerras 2015; China Story 2012). Xinjiang is home to a growing population of Han Chinese, who in 1945 only comprised 6–7 per cent of the population, with internal migration at first supported by government policies; now they are driven largely by economic factors as Han migrants from

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poorer central provinces take up positions in the cities or in the energy sector of Xinjiang (Howell and Fan 2011; Starr 2004, p. 17). Uighurs tend to be found in agriculture, government jobs, retail, professional and in self-employed positions (Wu and Song 2014). The GDP per capita for the region is above poorer inland provinces, but still somewhat below the national average and well below richer coast provinces, for example less than two-thirds that of Shandong in 2015 (DB-Research 2016a and 2016b; Starr 2004, p. 3). The wealth gap between Han and Uighur groups is small on average, but accounts suggest continued discrimination and economic marginalization of the Uighur, with Han often securing better paid jobs, while in turn Han groups have protested against preferential policies for ethnic minorities.5 Tension between Han and Uighur groups, which government proharmony campaigns have failed to resolve, are politically and culturally based. Past Uighur cooperation with Russia and Soviet efforts to gain leverage on the region may have led to exaggerated suspicion of Uighur groups (Shichor 2015; Millward 2007, pp. 256–7 and 272–4). Ironically, central policies have politicized ethnicity at the same time as trying to enforce ethnic harmony, while security pressures have intensified as a response to political dissent, fear of religion as a source of resistance, and concerns over links to transnational terrorist networks. These concerns have come to the fore again since 2001, though independence groups such as ETIM (the East Turkestan Islamic Movement) should not be thought of as an integrated organization. Indeed, the successor group, the Turkestan Islamic Party, operating since 2006, may have been more operationally effective, with links to the Taliban in Pakistan and the IMU elements operating near the Af-Pak border (Clarke 2016b). Resistance has been dispersed across a range of groups and employed diverse means, including terrorist attacks, political murders, cultural dissent and local public protests (Mackerras 2015; China Story 2012; Millward 2007, pp. 337–41). Recent ‘strike hard’ campaigns and greater restrictions on worship and public religious affiliation may be a logical response to the 900 related deaths in Xinjiang during 2007–14, as well as terrorist attacks in Yunnan and Beijing; but such policies do not offer a long-term solution to local dissent (Collins 2015; Clarke 2016b). Rather, they are likely to lead to greater alienation of Muslims, not just in Xinjiang but across the country. The dilemma for China has been to support cultural diversity but to de-politicize the identity politics of these groups, especially those with transnational links. This has achieved only partial success through the central role of the SCO in managing separatism, extremism and terrorism (see further Chapter 2). Demands for increased

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‘indigenous’ rights, for ‘high autonomy’ and independence remain serious challenges in both Xinjiang and Tibet. Mainstream Chinese have their own imagining of a ‘wild west’. It is replete with deserts, forts, demobilized soldiers, bandits, foreign traders, hostile uprisings, diverse religions and ethnic groups, rampant terrorism, international intrigue and legends of warriors and heroes, themes reflected and re-imaged in Chinese novels and film. These images and stereotypes go beyond cautious government policies of a ‘multi-ethnic’ China and are far from harmless, especially when combined with internet and social media images of current inter-communal violence. In turn, Uighur and other groups have used dance, music, literature, film and theatre to provide a counter-narrative that has begun to reach international audiences. This has been facilitated through the internet but also via international film festivals, documentaries and external protest groups. The politics of cultural markers, language scripts, ethnic designations and educational priorities have come into play in this internationalized debate (Dwyer 2005; Millward 2007, pp. 236–7). Uighur have long used their distinctive musical, dance and acrobatic heritage (called Dawaz) as identity markers. Social clubs called mashrap involve music, comedy and recitation, but their ‘nationalist’ content led to them being suppressed by Chinese authorities in the 1990s (Millward 2007, pp. 329–30 and 366–70). This trend continued among modern middle class and youth groups. It took the form of traditional muqam (stories and poems set to music), as well as pop music (in both Uighur and to a lesser extent Chinese). In addition, hip hop, rap and heavy metal are active today, carrying a range of critical sentiments (Holdstock 2015). Western commentators, however, need to avoid excessive romanticization of the ‘under-dog’ and valorization of protest and resistance groups: the conflict in Xinjiang has involved serious inter-communal riots as well as targeted, politically motivated violence that have led to both Uighur and Han casualties. The linkage of Xinjiang westward to the Silk Road Economic Belt and eastward onto the rest of China via the Great Western Development project explains only part of its economic significance. The region itself has large gas resources (23.3 per cent of China’s onshore gas resources), with existing eastward national pipelines (especially the gas lines to Shanghai) making later Central-Asia–PRC energy networks much more feasible. Xinjiang has oil (21.5 per cent of national resources), coal (38 per cent), mineral resources (including uranium, gold, copper, nickel, lead, zinc) and continued agricultural productivity, though this has caused increasing pressure on water and soil resources (Atli 2016; Scull 2011). Cotton, in particular, is a water intensive crop, and over-use of upstream

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and artesian water has led to the destruction of natural habitats, ongoing soil erosion and desertification, a problem shared across much of Central Asia. Available surface and ground water in Xinjiang has declined by about 30 per cent in 2010–14, with concerns that climate change will continue to reduce glacial melt flows from the Kunlun and Tian Shan Mountains through to 2050 (NBS 2016; Millward 2007, p. 318). Massive dust storms and air pollution are also major problems, with clouds blowing as far east as Beijing. This occurs in spite of reforestation and conservation efforts, including the ‘Great Green Wall’ being planted across northern China. Xinjiang’s population, especially the Uighurs, have a range of serious health problems including respiratory and heart disease, cancer, alcohol and drug use, and the spread of AIDS; many of these are linked to environmental risks and social disaffection (Ekpar 2015, pp. 184–92, p. 277; Dautcher 2004). Xinjiang has also become an emerging centre for refineries and petrochemical production, as well as hosting some of China’s strategic petroleum reserves (Meidan et al. 2015; Clarke 2013, pp. 8–9). Likewise, the region has high solar and wind-power potential (in the north and east), along with more limited hydro-power capacities, though these have yet to be fully exploited. Instead, there has been continued and rising use of coal for electrical power production. This is in spite of PRC’s national coal abatement and gas-usage targets. Additionally, energy inefficiency, limited grids to transmit electrical power out of Xinjiang and environmental damage are ongoing problems (Duan et al. 2016). Thus, Xinjiang has a strong role in supporting China’s economy and its political security: Apparently, Xinjiang’s economic structure fits the picture of the periphery, of which the main function is to provide the core with energy supplies and raw materials. This is precisely why the Chinese government focuses on the economic development of the region. A developed and stable Xinjiang is one of the keys of ensuring China’s economic security in the long term. Beijing cannot take the risk of instability in a region, which produces its energy supplies and cotton, serves as a major foreign trade hub … . (Atli 2016)

Within Xinjiang itself, Urumqi is an important transport hub linked into BRI networks with two special development zones, while cities such as Horgos and Kashgar (now a special economic zone) have become internationalized markets, with ‘dry ports’ such as Khorgos being developed on the border with Kazakhstan (Hancock 2017; Mackerras 2015; Ellis 2015; Millward 2007, pp. 289–92). Connectivity through Xinjiang onto wider Central Asia includes major road, rail and pipeline routes, as well as land-ports and hubs that will become increasingly important as BRI investment grows. Major road and

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truck routes include the highway that goes to Almaty in Kazakhstan, the Karakorum Highway south-west to Pakistan, and smaller roads that pass into Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Railroads connect Urumqi with Almaty (considered the first part of the Eurasian Continental Rail Bridge), with new lines being planned that would go through Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and possibly Kyrgyzstan (Hashimova 2017; Makhmudov 2014; Clarke 2013; Millward 2007). At the same time, a high-speed rail line links Urumqi with Lanzhou (Gansu), with further fast links to eastern lines underway. Indeed, three major development corridors planned under BRI will pass through Xinjiang, including the northern corridor heading towards Russia, the southern corridor linking onto Pakistan, and a central corridor passing on to Uzbekistan and Iran, with routes to Pakistan and Uzbekistan including rail links (Cui 2014). The Central Asia–China gas network runs westward to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, with a more northern oil line running through Kazakhstan. However, there have been serious delays in the new Line D that would have allowed Turkmenistan’s gas to transit Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, with reports in 2017 that the fourth line might be put on hold, at least until demand increases (Lelyveld 2017; Farchy and Kinge 2016; Michel 2016). New digital links along these corridors will boost communication, educational and e-commerce opportunities, with a large number of Chinese companies already involved including Huawei, ZTE and diverse telecom companies (Brown 2017). Likewise, the Xinjiang regional government itself has sought to capitalise on its location, supporting the ‘look west’ policy to act as a bridgehead for boosting trade into Central and West Asia towards Europe: this involves over 17 major ports of entry, 30 international air routes, 105 roads, plans for 21 logistic hubs and the possibility of Xinjiang becoming part of a Central Asian Economic Circle operating in conjunction with BRI corridors (Li Mingjiang 2016). This enhanced connectivity, in turn, allows diversified transnational flows to link Xinjiang into Eurasian and world affairs. Diaspora groups such as the World Uighur Congress (WUC) have formed critical lobby groups overseas in the US, Germany and Australia, while China used extradition agreements against dissidents in nearby states such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and with Tajikistan in 2015 (Mackerras 2015; Putz 2015; Starr 2004). Even if political violence is largely driven by domestic issues, some Uighurs have received training in Pakistan, and China fears new networks of transnational terrorism driven by instability in Iraq and Syria, alongside unfinished transitions in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Current efforts by Islamic State to gain footholds in Afghanistan, even if it has to fight the Taliban to do so, are indications of these

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new challenges. In July 2014 Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi included China in his list of states where Muslims have been repressed, even if IS’s operational capacity remains limited there (Mackerras 2015). Various numbers (100–300) have been cited for Uighurs being actively recruited and trained by IS through 2013–16 (Rosenblatt 2016; Tomkiw 2016). Likewise, the influence of Pakistani traders, religious and militant groups has been noted since the 1990s, a trend likely to intensify as trade flows along BRI routes deepen (Warikoo 2016; Starr 2004). Flows of illicit goods are also a major challenge alongside globalization and regionalization in recent decades, emerging as a multi-billion dollar challenge for developing states in the AsiaPacific and wider Central Asia (UNODC 2013 and 2016b). These trends point to a central contradiction that Chinese authorities are struggling to manage. While the PRC’s territorial and sovereign control of Xinjiang is secure, this is insufficient for human security and wider developmental needs. By integrating Xinjiang both internally to the rest of China and externally to neighbouring states, this has opened the door to historical cultural links and to a new pattern of internationalization that may be impossible to control via central planning, security clampdowns and government subsidies (Clarke 2013). Prosperity, if truly inclusive and shared across ethnic groups, could be a partial answer to reducing tensions in Xinjiang. Commentators such as Kaplan have suggested that economic development leveraged from the Silk Road might well reduce Uighur separatism, but also that ‘if such immense projects falter because of China’s own slowing economy, separatism could explode into greater violence’ (Kaplan 2016). The reality, as we have seen, is more complex, based as much on new narratives of identity formation, mixed policy objectives, and intercommunity perceptions as on economic outcomes. This means that inclusive economic development is a necessary but insufficient solution to Xinjiang’s current challenges. The problem for China is that its wider national development and Eurasian integrative strategies (including security, economic and energy factors) are hinged across western zones of China with enormous ethnic diversity, evolving transnational linkages, and challenged strategic borders (Mackerras 2015; Clarke 2013). Wider Central Asia shares many of the developmental and environmental challenges found in Xinjiang. Likewise, as Xinjiang has become even more important as a key hub for BRI and the success of the ‘China Dream’, it has drawn an increasing security focus but few new solutions to existing ethnic, environmental and human security concerns (Hayes 2015). This has serious implications for both China and Russia, as well as for Eurasia’s regional development.

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CHINA’S STRATEGIC CHOICES AND EURASIAN DILEMMAS The factors discussed above represent some of the problems faced by China in Xinjiang. Beyond this, however, China, as a state and a set of communities, is facing a set of challenges at the domestic, regional, Eurasian and global levels that can be described as dilemmas. ‘Dilemma’ is not used here in the strict, logical sense, where one is forced to choose between equally negative paths or outcomes, nor just in relation to traditional security dilemmas. Rather, China’s dilemmas emerge from situations where clear choices are undermined by incompatible trade-offs, unintended outcomes that are hard to predict, social, psychological and political restraints on rational decision-making and policy optimization, and cross-impacts across different domains of activity (Tang 2009; Starr 2004, pp. 19–20). From China’s point of view, a range of linked dilemmas have emerged that can be summarized along several major axes. First, China still feels the need to expand its Comprehensive National Power (CNP), measured across military, economic and soft power domains, without increasing international threat perceptions (for the PRC’s use of CNP, see Ferguson and Dellios 2017, pp. 173–200). This means that it needs to sustain and stabilize inclusive growth even as China’s economy moves from its role as a mass manufacturing hub towards a mixed service and consumerbased economy. This is presented by the CCP as the ‘new normal’ domestically and ‘going out’ in global terms, a policy which was reiterated in the late 1990s, extending Deng Xiaoping’s first ‘reform and opening-up’ period. However, neither slogan indicates the scale of transition required to become a truly diversified, globalized and knowledge-based economy in the 21st century (Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016). This includes an internationalization of Chinese firms and manufacturing that still has a long way to go: ‘For more than fifteen years, Chinese SOEs have been subject to the imperatives of surviving the competition and turning a profit, with the principal objective of creating (thirty-some) national and international industry leaders capable of rivaling the best in the world’ (Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016, p. 80). A central dilemma is how to transition into an open, modernizing economy without a cross-over period of social turmoil and without losing the leadership monopoly of the CCP (Liao 2016; Dibb and Lee 2014). This has been further complicated by the need to further internationalize small and medium-sized enterprises that remain a major component within the domestic Chinese economy, generating around 58–65 per cent

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of GDP and 80–82 per cent of employment (Lo 2017a; Hoffman 2017). This trajectory requires a ‘permissive’ international environment even as the PRC moves into being the world’s second most powerful state (in comprehensive terms), the world’s largest economy (in PPP measurements), ranked third in terms of overseas diplomatic representation, and militarily the third most powerful nation, coming in after the US and Russia (Bender 2016; Karlin 2015; Lowy Institute 2016). China also needs to continue the transition toward becoming a midlevel developed state, reflected in GDP per capita and the Human Development Index (HDI) estimates, while undergoing a demographic transition towards an aging population. One of the main aims of CCP has been to maintain a ‘harmonious society’, avoiding the recreation of class and income differentiation. This has been difficult to sustain, with worrying trends emerging in the dynamic and modernizing economy. China’s Gini coefficient, indicating inequality of income distribution, had dropped from a peak of 0.491 in 2008 to 0.462 points in 2015, indicating some improvement in this area (Statistica 2016). However, this is somewhat higher than the US, while the World Bank considers figures above 0.40 as indicating serious income inequality (Wildau and Mitchell 2016). This explains the expanded emphasis on inclusive growth (gongxiang fazhan) across the 12th and 13th Five-Year Plans, with ongoing efforts to alleviate poverty, raise minimum wages, improve healthcare and housing affordability, improve pensions, and promote educational opportunities (Koleski 2017). As part of the ‘China Dream’, Beijing has mandated that by the ‘two centenaries’ certain goals should be achieved: by 2021, the centenary of the CCP’s establishment, China should meet the target of ‘constructing a moderately prosperous society’; by the PRC’s centenary in 2049, China should have developed into a ‘modernized socialist country that is rich, strong, democratic, civilized and harmonious’ (Lam 2013). At the same time, China needs to transform its energy profile and environmental costs to avoid irreversible ecological damage that will undermine future economic and societal stability. This has been increasingly embedded in China’s recent Five-Year Plans, with the PRC aiming to become the core of an eco-civilization that can move towards genuine sustainability (Yuan 2017; Xinhua 2015; Climate Group 2014; Hu 2012). However, ongoing environmental and health costs are still having a serious impact on long-term growth, in spite of massive investment in energy renewables and an effort to shift towards a ‘greener’ economic base and proactive approach towards climate change (Albert and Xu 2016; Tiezzi 2015; Gare 2012). Nor is it certain that this ‘green growth’ approach, with binding national targets, can be comprehensively applied

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to BRI projects as a whole, irrespective of initial efforts to factor in environmental concerns (Tracy et al. 2017; Koleski 2017; NASCC 2015). At the global level, China is preparing for the evolution of a working multilateral global system (functional multipolarity), since it views the re-emergence of a competitive bipolar world as extremely dangerous. Likewise, the CCP views the idea of China assuming a hegemonic superpower status as costly, ideologically unpalatable, and unsustainable under the current conditions of globalization (for these debates see Lo 2017a; Zhang 2015; Xu and Du 2015). This is not to deny China’s continued emergence as ‘a leading global power by 2050’, as Xi Jinping stated at the 19th Party Congress held in 2017, but any G2 system would need to be moderated by further power diffusion and multilateral cooperation to avoid conflict. At the least, China is seeking to redefine new and positive great power relations with several partners in order to reduce the drift toward bipolar competition in which China and the US could become the main protagonists (see Ferguson and Dellios 2017, pp. 186–92). All of these factors shape China’s engagement in the multiple aspects of the Eurasian process, with China increasingly needing to lead regional transitions and shape key partnerships. Within Eurasia, these ‘dilemmas’ include: 1.

2.

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China needs to chart a path towards regional cooperation, policy convergence and inclusive growth that draws in a wide range of players. This requires the support of regional great powers (including Russia and India) and ‘middle powers’ (Turkey, Iran and Kazakhstan), without intensifying competition and new threat perceptions. Eurasia’s divergent civilizations, competing empires and Cold War divisions have left it a fracture zone of borders, frontiers and underdeveloped zones (Cohen 2005; Lo 2015). Peacefully transforming this huge mega-region is a masterclass in statecraft and has not been peacefully achieved by any state or empire to date. Movement towards cooperation and policy convergence has begun to some degree through the SCO and parallel dialogue processes in which China has a major role, for example CICA, the Heart of Asia dialogue and several Asian multitrack forums. However, the SCO is only now becoming more seriously institutionalized, and still lacks the policy convergence of a grouping such as the EU in the 1990s or the deep military coordination of NATO. Likewise, the SCO suffers from gaps in terms of Eurasian inclusiveness (limited roles for Afghanistan, Ukraine, Turkey and Mongolia), and needs to

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begin stronger dialogues with the EU and Ukraine to manage wider Eurasian processes (see further Chapter 2). Afghanistan’s instability remains at the heart of a range of non-traditional security challenges operating at a transnational level, imposing strong challenges for the PRC’s regional security policy that go beyond the ‘win–win’ dynamic of shared economic development (Clarke 2016a and 2016b; see further Chapter 3). China needs to engage creatively, and eventually co-shape, Russia’s security and economic roles in Eurasia, without drifting into an entangling formal alliance (for the possibility of such a drift, see Carlson 2016). Engaging in costly and risk-prone hard balancing against the US and its allies (including NATO) would benefit Russia but would undermine China’s wider foreign policy goals (see further Chapter 5). China needs to engage multi-civilizational, multi-religious and multi-ethnic perspectives when dealing with the complex cultural tapestry of Eurasia. Though Beijing and Moscow have formally adopted a multi-civilizational approach in their foreign policies, their imperial legacies, heavy state security apparatuses and uneven implementation of ethnic policies have left them with a marred track record in several areas. This is much more than countering transnational Islamic ‘militancy’ across the borders of Xinjiang (see above). Legitimacy in this area is crucial if China seeks to become a problem-solver and peace-maker in wider Central Asia, and to sustain more calibrated policies toward Afghanistan and South Asia (see Chapter 3). Achievement of goals 1 to 4 will require a relatively successful BRI implementation that not only allows China’s economic transition, but truly benefits partners across Eurasia in an equitable and predictable fashion. The mega-project will need to show initial benefits over the current decade and further evolve over the next 10–35 years to deal with a range of environmental, developmental, security and human rights issues that will arise as investment, connectivity and increased trade transforms dozens of societies and states (see further Chapter 6).

3.

4.

5.

BRI is an evolving, public–private pattern of development whose outcomes are difficult to predict. Bearing in mind the current trend of capital flight overseas from the PRC ($140 billion in 2014 and peaking at $725 billion in 2016), growing total debt (rising from 160 per cent of GDP in 2007 to 304 per cent in May 2017), and the gradual reduction of China’s foreign capital reserves, China has a limited timeframe in which these

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Silk Road investments need to bear fruit (Dargnat 2016; Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016; Reuters 2017a; Amaro 2017). The outlined transition phase needs to be well underway in the coming 5–10-year period if it is not to stall, leading to serious blowback onto the PRC’s economy and its foreign policy objectives. Sluggish growth would also undermine progress on many of the targets in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2015–20), increase social tensions and undermine confidence in Xi’s ‘China Dream’ agenda. From this point of view the massive state support for BRI is a calculated gamble. Either marginal performance or large-scale failures of particular projects or corridors would mean that BRI could not act as the new ‘engine’ for China’s economy and its regional ambitions. The global implications of such failures are also worth considering: If Xi’s project fails, we can expect an economic and geopolitical Chinese withdrawal, something that would be extremely dangerous both for China and the rest of the world. International trade and world GDP would contract, the violability of financial markets would increase and international relations would become tense. It would mark the end of the last quarter-century of globalisation. The result would be a new cycle, probably characterised by less international cooperation and global economic benefit than its predecessor. (Dargnat 2016, p. 74)

Furthermore, though BRI-related agencies such as the AIIB have begun to outline developmental and environmental norms for the Silk Roads, there is still an ‘ideational’ gap within BRI if it seeks to be a truly collaborative framework for Eurasian development and human security more widely conceived (Dellios 2017; Ferguson and Dellios 2017; Tracy et al. 2017). These dilemmas are related to wider patterns in Eurasia affairs. In geopolitical terms, imperial states that have controlled much of the Eurasian ‘heartland’ (Russia and then the USSR) were challenged and contained by ‘rimland’ naval powers such as Britain and the US. Before this, Eurasia had only seen a partial, short-term political integration during one phase of the Mongol Empire (in the 13th century), and no more than a loose civilizational integration under Turkic and Islamic influences that was limited by Western, Orthodox and Chinese powers. No single empire or political system has laid the societal basis for convergent cultural values, normative multilateralism or shared identity interests. Nor has an ‘undemocratic security community’ emerged based on authoritarian political regimes, though some of these features have been ascribed to both the CSTO and SCO (Kropatcheva 2016, p. 1529). The resulting cultural, political and ethnic diversity has made current efforts at Eurasian regionalization shallow and fragmented, with no one

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of the great powers being the ‘natural’ leader of the system of states that re-emerged after the early 1990s. With this in mind we can see that though the PRC needs to lead Eurasian processes and mechanisms, this has been challenged by competing state interests and debates on China’s cultural and political legitimacy. In the next chapter we can see some of these limitations by examining two different organizations that have evolved to deal with Eurasian security challenges.

NOTES 1.

The term ‘New Silk Road (NSR)’ is sometimes used for this general project, but risks conflation between US and Chinese conceptions. Later versions of the US’s NSR focused on north–south integration as a means to link Central Asia and Afghanistan to the dynamic economies of South Asia (Clarke 2016a). For the GCAP proposal, see Clarke (2013); Starr (2004 and 2008). For China inadvertently becoming a Eurasia great power, see Mackerras (2015). 2. Formally Kyrgyzstan is called the Kyrgyz Republic. 3. Wider Central Asia refers to transnational flows that link not just the ‘stans’, but other adjacent states and regions including parts of Mongolia, Siberia and Xinjiang. This usage is to be distinguished from the more politically oriented Greater Central Asia idea proposed by Starr as a means to link Central and South Asia as a viable region for enhanced US influence (Clarke 2013, pp. 1–2; Starr 2004 and 2008). 4. See the claims made in the PRC National Human Rights Action Plan 2012–2015, reiterated in Premier Li Keqiang’s Report on the Work of Government to the 12th National People’s Congress in March 2016. 5. Wu and Song (2014); Howell and Fan (2011) argue for a limited gap, versus Holdstock (2015); Millward (2007, pp. 304–5); China Story (2012).

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2. Dangerous frontiers: beyond the CSTO and SCO What we have seen in the decade since 2008 is the end of the post-Cold War ‘settlement’ of wider Europe. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Warsaw Pact, new arrangements had to be made among NATO, Eastern European states, Ukraine and Russia. For a time the ‘Founding Act’ between Russia and NATO (1997) seemed to provide stability based on the notion of an inclusive, comprehensive security and the understanding that Russia and NATO were not adversaries. Instead, they were working together to create a new transparent partnership ‘to strengthen security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area’ (Founding Act, Principles, 1997). This trust was initially supported by a wide range of agreements such as the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, several Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (1991–2010), early Russian cooperation on the US intervention in Afghanistan after 9/11, and the creation of the NATO–Russia Council to ensure continued dialogue. This settlement, however, was far from complete and was in serious decline by 2008, signalled by Russia’s invasion of Georgia. Fractures in this relationship began as early as the late 1990s, initiated partly by NATO’s intervention against Yugoslavia in support of Kosovo, but also by President Putin’s view that Russia’s security needs were not being taken into account by the West (see further Chapter 5). With the weakening of the 1990s’ ‘concordat’ and the failure of the short ‘reset’ between Russia and the US (2008–2009), a new pattern of balancing and counterbalancing began across Eurasia. Western ‘triumphalism’, lambasted by both Putin and Gorbachev, suggested that US leaders were willing to run rough-shod over Russian interests whenever it suited them (Shakarian 2014; Lipman 2014). Combined with an expanding NATO and fear of Western support for ‘coloured revolutions’ that might eventually come to Moscow, these issues came to a head in Kiev with Ukraine’s Maidan revolution of February 2014. The Russian leadership saw the ‘coup’ as directly threatening Russian bases and borders, as well as undermining national security and regional influence. Though viewed by many in the United States as a legitimate democratic revolution, this was 26

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also a direct clash between Western and Russian worldviews, spheres of influence and divergent perceptions of what would constitute security for wider Europe (Sakwa 2015; McFaul et al. 2014; Lipman 2014). Tensions were somewhat reduced during 2015–17, with a short-lived understanding on Syria and resumption of NATO–Russia Council talks in 2016. However, this remained a very limited dialogue even under the Trump administration. It has been unable to sideline the major deployment of troops (even if technically only rotated into Europe), and deployment of missile and air power by both NATO and Russian units alongside hardening eastern European borders (see further below). The Trump administration, ironically, was unable to improve its relations with Russia due to ongoing investigations of Russian interference in the US presidential elections, making any early ‘reset’ politically fraught in spite of improved diplomacy from late 2017 (Bhadrakumar 2017). As we shall see, the ripple effect of this problematic transition reaches far beyond Russia into the dynamics of Chinese security and defence policies. We can begin to appreciate this by looking at the evolution of two Eurasian security organizations that are beginning to respond to this changing landscape, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). However, neither of these organizations, nor their tandem operations, is able to create a new security architecture that would meet the needs of Eurasia as a whole. It is this dilemma which has led to intensified geopolitical cooperation between Russia and China, but also has created different understandings of how a future Eurasian order might evolve (see further Chapter 4). Furthermore, these groupings face real challenges in dealing with current flash-points, several of them ‘frozen conflicts’ from the Cold War, and have limited capacities to cope with non-traditional security challenges that have become the norm in the 21st century (see Chapter 3).

THE RISK OF UNFROZEN CONFLICTS Eurasia is not a stable set of recognized states with a secure pattern of international relations. In spite of the efforts of the UN, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the EU, the CSTO and the SCO, the mega-region contains a host of frozen and unfrozen conflicts, a number of enclaves whose status remains ambiguous, and conceals national tensions that have been suppressed but not eradicated over the last thousand years. Some of these are based on unresolved issues from World War II and the Cold War, while others derive from submerged ethnic groups and nationalities, for example the status of

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Tibetan and Uighur identities only partly represented in Autonomous Regions within China (see Chapter 1). The area includes several troubled states within the Russian Federation (Chechnya, Tatarstan and Dagestan), alongside the largely unrecognized enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (in Georgia), and the de facto autonomy of Transnistria, formally part of Moldova but secured by Russian ‘peacekeepers’. Likewise, the very rapid trajectory of statehood for Kosovo (still negotiating its relationship with Serbia through 2017) and the controversial national status of the Kurds have the ability to trigger wider regional responses. The enclave of Kaliningrad, part of the Russian Federation south of Lithuania, was once the German city of Konigsberg and is seen as an anomalous territory within the European Union borders whereby Russian forces can pressure NATO defences. These forces currently comprise up to ten thousand Russian troops and advanced missile systems, including the mobile ballistic Iskander missiles and air defence S-400s (Sukhankin 2016; Majumdar 2016). Frozen conflicts can be defined as ‘situations of conflict where there are no active large-scale hostilities, there is a durable mutually agreed ceasefire, but efforts to achieve a political settlement or peace are unsuccessful’ (Tudoroiu 2016, p. 376, following MacFarlane 2008). Such long-term frozen conflicts or stalemates have been difficult to resolve diplomatically despite decades of effort. The status of the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, for example, has caused unremitting border conflicts between Azerbaijan and Armenia since 1988 (intensifying again in April 2016 and September 2017), but also complicates the relations among major Eurasia states including Turkey, Iran, Russia and the European Union (Socor 2012b). Likewise, in spite of the two Minsk diplomatic processes, the fate of the eastern regions of Ukraine (the self-declared People’s Republic of Donetsk and People’s Republic of Luhansk) remain disputed, while there is no certainty that major European states will recognize Russia’s seizure and incorporation of Crimea, even if US acceptance was hinted at in Donald Trump’s election campaign (Galeotti 2016). An updated Minsk agreement mobilizing UN peacekeepers into the Donbass had been suggested by President Putin at the UN in September 2017, but this would require renewed support from Germany, France and Russia for effective implementation, suggesting a problematic frontier zone for years to come (Pifer 2017; Bhadrakumar 2017). Aside from the ‘unfinished business’ represented by these anomalies, ‘small’ conflicts can act as triggers for new rounds of wider conflict (Kaplan 2016). This presents ‘peace-makers’ with the dilemma of resolving issues with diverse linkages and unclear priorities among the main actors. Should smaller issues be dealt with first or should wider relations

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be targeted? For example, is it best to focus on concrete issues, such as de-escalation of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine by compliance with the Minsk II Accords to pull back heavy weapons (proposed from early 2015), or focus on improving dialogue between Russia and Western states on the wider structure of European security (Redman et al. 2017)? As such, the normalization of the situation in Ukraine might be held hostage to wider currents and goals in the Russia–NATO relationship, and in turn efforts to end sanctions on Russia might depend on how cooperative it has been in shaping a political resolution for specific conflicts in Eastern Ukraine. A sense of how complex and entangling these challenges are may be gained by looking at two small examples on opposite sides of the Eurasian landmass. One has been the focus of conflict, peacekeeping and multiparty peace talks for over thirty years (the region of Transnistria in Moldova); the other an impoverished corridor defined by artificial borders and security concerns that have only recently begun to be overcome (the Wakhan Corridor in Inner Asia). Both have small territories and tiny populations, but are now engaged in complex economic and security transitions that have serious regional implications. The newly independent state of Moldova has been troubled by the ‘break-away’ region of Trans-Dniester (Transnistria) since 1990, when the area east of the Dniester River declared independence, followed by a short but bloody civil war in 1992 in which some 1500 people died. Though originally granted a certain level of autonomy by Moldova, it declared itself an independent Republic from 1990, the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (also known as the Dniester Moldovan Republic).1 Resident Russian military units supported the Transnistria region against Moldovan security forces through the early 1990s, aiding Russian ethnic groups that were dominant locally and were afraid of being repressed by Moldovan interests (Sanchez 2009). Originally over 9000 Russian troops were stationed there (elements of the Russian 14th army), but this number has since dropped to around 1100 soldiers, with 400 of these serving as peacekeepers on the border zone (Rojansky 2011). Transnistria still has a large ethnic Russian and Ukrainian population, but about 40 per cent speak Moldovan. The enclave’s perimeter is heavily fortified and patrolled by armed Russian, Moldovan and Transnistrian peacekeepers, though there have been few violent episodes along the border (Barry 2012). Transnistria receives subsidized energy from Russia, owing over $5.5 billion for gas imports, and until recently received annual budgetary aid from Moscow, making it vulnerable to Russia’s geopolitical interests (Tabachnik 2017; Calus 2016; Socor 2012a). In recent years both the economy and the population have gone into decline, with

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residents dropping from 750 000 to 485 000 in 1989–2015, largely due to outmigration (Tabachnik 2017). Transnistria is not formally recognized internationally, but has strong economic relations and political dialogue with Russia, Moldova and Ukraine. It also has a huge arsenal of weapons left over from the Cold War, plus large industrial plants (steel and cement), a major power plant, and factory complexes engaged in arms production (Rojansky 2011). It has been viewed by the EU as a zone of smuggling and trafficking that is poorly controlled by local authorities. Illicit arms flows and organized crime networks were seen as gaining easy entry via Transnistria into Moldova and Ukraine, making this ‘statelet’ of interest to the EU, OSCE, US, Interpol and Moldova (Sanchez 2009). Sitting along the frontier of western and eastern Europe, the fate of Transnistria is therefore important not just for adjacent states but to Europe as a whole. From 2005 the ‘5+2’ multilateral talks commenced, with Moldova and Transnistria as primary parties to the dispute. Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE acted as mediators, with two interested parties, the US and the EU, attending as observers. The status of Transnistria has not been resolved, largely because of the benefits derived from its ambiguous role and because of real differences in the aims of the negotiating parties, leading to heightened tensions between Russia and Moldova through 2017 (Tabachnik 2017; Blank 2013; Rojansky 2011; Socor 2012b). Moldova saw Transnistria as an integral part of its own territory, with initiatives using the ‘Three D’ approach of ‘demilitarization, democratization, de-criminalization’, while the Moldovan ‘organic law’ of 2005 ruled out a federalization solution and rejected the continued Russian presence (Socor 2006b and 2013). This flew in the face of Transnistrian efforts to assert some degree of self-representation or ‘high autonomy’ in the absence of internationally recognized formal independence. Russia, in its desire to retain leverage on both Moldovan and Ukrainian affairs, seemed focused on preserving de facto independence for Transnistria linked to a neutral Moldova. On the basis of its divided territory and problematic eastern borders Moldova could only move gradually towards deepened EU or NATO engagement (Tabachnik 2017; Sanchez 2009). Russia’s strategy was thus similar to its policies elsewhere: ‘Russian transnational socioeconomic activity in Transnistria, while publicly presented as benign and fraternal, is more about shoring up Russian influence in the near abroad and over Moldova than about benevolently helping the nascent de facto state in Transnistria develop while assisting the region’s population of Russian citizens’ (Chamberlain-Creanga and Allin 2010).

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Moldova, though constitutionally neutral, has cooperated with NATO and from 2014 provided troops for NATO’s KFOR mission in Kosovo. It has also responded to the US-led Global Peace Initiative (Global Peace Operations Initiative, GPOI), which Moldova joined in 2012, gaining some military equipment, support for military modernization, and peacekeeping engagements (Lozovanu 2015). As such, Moldova may be seen as tracking towards the West, even though it has large Socialist and Communist political parties. One suggestion has been that Russia’s aim is not to support an independent Transnistria, but rather to use the issue against Moldova’s track towards the West, and as part of its wider geopolitical strategy (Markedonov 2016). If Moldova became a federal state, for example, this would give Transnistria a veto over deepened engagement with NATO or the EU, but the federalization option is currently blocked by Moldovan law. The 2016 presidential elections in Moldova that led to Igor Dodon’s victory could eventuate in improved relations with Russia and a reconsideration of the federalist option, but it would be circumscribed by the Moldovan presidency’s limited powers. As much as Dodon may wish a rapprochement with Russia, an end to cooperation with NATO, and would prefer membership in the EEU over current association agreements with the EU, he will need to await the outcome of the 2018 parliamentary elections before redirecting national policies (Brett 2016; Tabachnik 2017). The European Union has also sought more influence on Transnistria through economic means. It maintained the Autonomous Trade Preferences (ATP) regime with Transnistria (operating since 2007), which had been set to expire at the start of 2016. This is linked to the 2014 Moldova Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, the DCFTA, with a two-year transition period for Transnistria to meet the regulations of the wider deal with the EU (Calus 2016; Popsoi 2014). With trade and remittances from Russia falling during 2015–17 and increased surveillance along the Ukraine border, this means that Transnistrians rely more than ever on trade with Moldova and thence with the EU, which accounts for over 70 per cent of exports (De Waal 2016; Tabachnik 2017). Although the presidential election of Vadim Krasnoselsky in Transnistria in 2016 may help secure future Russian economic support, the reality is that the subregion’s economy is more closely integrated with the EU than with Russia or other EEU members (Markedonov 2016). This scenario rather closely parallels many of the factors in Russia’s engagement in the Ukraine and Georgian crises: The script and the playbook have been the same, as has the result: exploiting a local ethnic conflict, the Kremlin has repeatedly used local proxies, and then

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Thus even small ethnic conflicts can be used to secure a territorial presence, create ‘friendly protectorates’, pressure nearby states (for example Ukraine or Moldova), or derail external agenda, for example EU and NATO expansion. Linked to concepts such as ‘hybrid’ and informational warfare and the use of militias and local political supporters, this creates a complex politico-military scenario in which early resolution of competing claims is extremely unlikely (Kramer 2016; Whitmore 2014; for limitations of the applicability of hybrid war approaches, see Charap 2015). The Crimea annexation had opened up a possible model of union with the Russian Federation, an aspiration among many Transnistrians but never formally broached by Moscow. After 2014 the prospect of direct unification with Russian territory, by the expansion of a landbridge to Russia along southern Ukraine as part of ‘Novorossiya’ (New Russia), was feared by NATO commander General Philip Breedlove. However, this over-reach would have galvanized a strong European reaction, and Putin soon dropped public references to ‘New Russia’ throughout 2015, thereby avoiding excessive entanglement with Russian ultranationalists (Oliker 2017; Goble 2015; Sonne 2015; Harding 2014). Rather than direct control of extended territories, Russia preferred a ‘pragmatic re-imperialization’ across areas of special interest, using frozen conflicts, trade policies and political contact with pro-Russian ethnic groups as a means of slowing European and NATO associational agreements (Tudoroiu 2016, p. 378). Ironically, these tensions have complicated China’s wider regional interests. Though China has not been directly involved in the diplomacy of Transnistria, it has made important overtures to Moldova, at first because of the strong role of the Communist Party in that country (both in government and as a major opposition party), then as part of its economic engagement of wider Europe, and more recently as part of its BRI projects. Moldova, one of the poorest European states, attracted Beijing’s interest for several reasons. From 2003 to 2009 in particular, there were convergent areas of foreign policy between the two countries, for example support for multipolarity, ‘democratization of international relations’ and ‘independent choice of development models’ (Meng 2012). Moldova was desperately in need of infrastructure and port development, with China a prospective partner for development across a wide range of

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sectors. China has interests in its agriculture, wine and textiles, while Moldova could become a location for new high-tech industries in the future (Dmitracova 2010). In 2009 China and Moldova signed an MOU that provided loans to the country totalling $1 billion. While trade between China and Moldova is still smaller than Russian levels (9.8 per cent versus 13.9 per cent of imports in 2016), it is growing steadily. Likewise, Chinese investment has begun to increase, seeing the country as a low-wage manufacturing site for goods that can be exported duty-free into the EU under current trade agreements (Eurasianet 2016a). In the view of some analysts, investments here and elsewhere in Eastern Europe strengthen China’s hand in Russia’s sphere of interest and in the EU’s ‘backyard’, giving it wider leverage on major bilateral agreements, especially those that come to be funded through a new ‘16+1’ financial holding company (Xi 2017b; Dmitracova 2010; see further Chapter 7). Chinese companies – most notably the state-run National Nuclear Power Company (NNPC) – have also been involved in negotiations for new energy production possibilities in Moldova. These include the option of nuclear power, though the Moldovan government is more interested in energy diversification via renewable sources (Eurasianet 2016a). This is an understandable concern given that hydro-power stations in Transnistria provide about 80 per cent of Moldova’s electricity and the country as a whole remains over-reliant on Russian gas transported through Ukraine. Russia has been opposed to new EU energy supplies into Moldova, and offered a 30 per cent discount if negotiations with Europe were abandoned. Transnistria had also benefited by selling on some $300–400 million annually of the ‘free’ gas it received from Russia (Calus 2016; Blank 2013). The option of nuclear power has been viewed critically since there have been claims that criminal groups in Moldova have been involved in (unsuccessful) attempts at smuggling radioactive materials in 2010–15, while earlier rumours suggested that Transnistrian networks might have wished to smuggle out tactical nuclear weapons from old Russian stockpiles (Butler and Ghirda 2015; Sanchez 2009). What we see in the Moldova–Transnistria situation is an underdeveloped state that failed to establish true neutrality amid the new frontiers generated by clashing Russian and European interests. Many Moldovans favour neutrality and most do not see membership of NATO as a solution to their security problems, while in recent surveys only 40 per cent thought that full EU membership would be a good thing and 36 per cent took a ‘neither good, nor bad’ position (Turbedar 2016, p. 124). Pro-Russian policies have a strong level of support in the divided politics of Moldova, especially in enclaves such as Gagauzia, where in an informal referendum in 2014 over 97 per cent preferred economic

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association with the CIS rather than integration with the EU (Tudoroiu 2016). Though Moldova has been able to engage a range of international partners, it has not been able to resolve the ambiguous status of Transnistria. Moldovan diplomatic efforts at the UN and NATO meetings are unlikely to see Russian troops in Transnistria replaced by a new international mission (Eurasianet 2016d). In turn, China has emerged as a major economic and diplomatic force for Moldova and Eastern Europe, but its economic, trade and aid programmes have yet to mature. As we shall see, however, the PRC’s emerging relations with Europe as a whole may seriously change the nature of its engagement with both Russia and the EU (see Chapter 7). China’s recent ‘look west’ strategy, now part of its BRI agenda, may eventually emerge as compatible with the EU’s eastern neighbourhood policies, but for this to occur a new, positive balance will need to be brokered with Russian geopolitical and nationalist interests (Makarychev 2015). A contrasting case can be found in Inner Asia, adjacent to disputed zones along the interface of Central, East and South Asia. The Wakhan Corridor in western Afghanistan presents a different scenario of underdevelopment along strategic borders that link China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The corridor is a thin neck of land extending east from the bulk of Afghanistan to a short border with modern China. It was a contested area in the ‘Great Game’ of the 19th century, with negotiations between 1884 and 1894 delineating the borders of the buffer state of Afghanistan and separating the spheres of influence of the Russian and the British Empires, a ‘deal’ not fully accepted by the Qing dynasty (Rowe 2010; Karrar 2010). Today, it provides a potential extension route for China’s existing Silk Road Economic Belt and BRI development schemes. In the past the Wakhan region was leveraged by the Emirs of Badakhshan as a southern route onto the ancient Silk Road (Boh 2015). When strategic borders into China over the Wakhjir Pass closed, the area went through economic decline as a backwater of Inner Asia. This may soon change, with a ‘growing convergence’ among various regional development plans, including BRI, India’s Connect Central Asian Policy, and the desire of Afghanistan to become a major transit country linking north–south and east–west routes, thus bridging the Silk Road Belt and the Maritime Silk Road (Boh 2015). The Wakhan Corridor could be linked onto the northern sections of the upgraded Karakoram Highway (KKH), now part of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) being developed via Chinese-led mega-projects (Malik 2014; see further Chapter 6). Alternatively, the long corridor could be used by landlocked Afghanistan as an alternative export route eastward, thereby avoiding

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routes through Pakistan, a country with which it has long-term tensions and which has serious security problems. Moreover, serious engineering and developmental challenges face the Wakhan Corridor itself. The corridor has a population of only 12 000, mainly poor Wakhi farmers and nomadic herders from Kyrgyz tribes, largely cut off from earlier trade routes into Tajikistan (UNEP 2003). The Wakhan has extremely poor roads and very mountainous terrain, with the high Wakhjir border pass having been closed since 1949. China undertook a feasibility study from 2013 as to whether the frontier should be opened and has built a road leading to within 10 km of the border on the Chinese side (Malik 2014; Boh 2015). A supply depot was developed for Chinese border police, along with nearby cell-phone and internet links (Malik 2014). Recently, Badakhshan province has had better security than many other provinces in Afghanistan, though a number of attacks were conducted by the Taliban and IS in the period 2010–15, and China remains concerned about insurgent movements (Boh 2015). Opium production, smuggling and transnational criminal networks are also major worries if new border areas open up to sustained trade. Chinese caution is indicated by the fact that they refused a US request to open the Wakhjir Pass in 2009 as an alternative supply line for NATO troops operating in Afghanistan (Clarke 2013; Malik 2014). This suggests that opening of the Wakhjir border may be contingent on the further development of positive PRC–Afghanistan relations. Recent moves in this direction have included a promise of $90 million of Chinese aid to Badakhshan province to extend optical-fibre cables from China, the upgrading of healthcare centres, schools and rural roads, some joint law-enforcement operations in border areas, as well as possible support for the creation of a special Afghan mountain brigade to help protect the border (Tanha 2017; Boyd 2017). The Wakhan Corridor could become a focus for local development in eastern Afghanistan. It could improve China’s ability to engage Afghanistan as a whole, and develop new transnational links for Xinjiang, boosting the role of cities such as Tashkurgan (Boh 2015). The delineation of the corridor itself was created by traditional inter-state security challenges of the 19th century and the Cold War. In the 21st century, these concerns are now replaced by new opportunities to manage non-traditional security threats operating along the modern ‘silk road’. However, this is one subregion where Xi Jinping’s contemporary application of the ‘New Security Concept’ for Asia, being articulated throughout 2014–17 at forums such as the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia and the Boao Forum, may prove true: the basis of security can only be found in development, and in this case an inclusive

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development that operates across sensitive borders (Xi 2014b; Verlare and Van der Putten 2015; Thayer 2013; on the long history of the New Security Concept, see Dellios and Ferguson 2013, pp. 2–3). Leaving the Cold War mentality and zero-sum games behind, however, may be a problem for many Eurasian states during periods of rapid change. Russian assertiveness in Eastern Europe and growing Chinese military capabilities, now being projected beyond the Asia-Pacific region, have brought back fears of a renewed stand-off against the US and its allies. Both Transnistria and the Wakhan Corridor show how human development and positive peace outcomes are often held hostage to wider geopolitical and geo-economic tensions. Regional approaches to Eurasian security have tried to manage some of these issues, but remain at an early stage, as we can see in the dynamics of the CSTO and the SCO.

THE CSTO: AN UNBALANCED RUSSIAN SECURITY FRAMEWORK In Western media reporting two important Eurasian organizations tend to be neglected: the CIS and the CSTO. The first of these is the Commonwealth of Independent States (created in December 1991), once viewed as the regional successor to the USSR, but which has since faded in a loose diplomatic grouping, though still used as a formal framework within Russian foreign affairs committees. Based on regular meetings of leaders and ministers, it at first gave Russia a prime seat in Eurasian dialogues, though its influence declined through the late 1990s (Blank 1999; Webber and Sakwa 1999). With the withdrawal of Georgia (2009) and limited engagement by Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Moldova, the CIS had a reduced diplomatic impact in the following decade (Shoemaker 2014). Its early achievements in shaping trade and economic agreements may have faded but it still has a mandated role in monitoring human rights and elections in CIS countries – though CIS reports are treated critically by the EU, US and by divergent accounts provided by the more widely based OSCE (BSC 2011; Burke 2012). The CIS maintains a Joint Air Defence System with regular air-defence exercises, though by 2014 Ukraine, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Uzbekistan were no longer effectively involved (Khodarenok 2016). Russia may wish to boost the role and influence of the CIS from 2017, when it takes over the chairmanship of the organization (in spite of Ukrainian protests), Moldova having refused to take over the rotating role. Russia sees cooperation among the CIS, CSTO and SCO as central to Eurasian and global security (UNSC 2016).

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However, from the early 1990s regional security functions were sustained through the creation of the CIS Collective Security Treaty, which thereafter evolved into the CSTO (the Collective Security Treaty Organization). In its aims and structure it has limited parallels to NATO, working on a much smaller scale and without a clear ‘out-of-area’ mandate to operate in the wider interests of member states (Kropatcheva 2016). The Collective Security Treaty Organization was founded in 1992, growing out of the CIS framework, based on ideas of mutual nonaggression and collective defence concepts enshrined in the Treaty on Collective Security (Tashkent, 1992) and the CSTO Charter (2002). It was at first needed to reduce problems attendant on the break-up of the Soviet Union. This included a host of crucial issues as the USSR and its command structure broke into 15 newly independent states. This included the management of nuclear weapons (strategic, mobile and tactical), the division of forces into national armies, creating new command structures, implementing border management, coordinating dispersed weapons manufacturing, rebuilding technical cooperation and ensuring future interoperability. The organization forbids forming alliances with external states (Article 1 of the Tashkent Treaty), and from 2011 allowed the veto of new foreign bases on CSTO soil unless agreed by all member states (Sodiqov 2012a; see further below). Some states remained aloof from the CSTO, fearing excessive Russian influence (Ukraine and Turkmenistan) and others dropped out after 1999 (Azerbaijan and Georgia), with Uzbekistan withdrawing active CSTO engagement from 2012. In the case of Uzbekistan, it feared both growing Russian and Kazakhstani influence in Central Asia, hoped to rebuild links with the US, and gained some material and training support as NATO withdrew its main forces from Afghanistan (De Haas 2017; Swerdhlow and Stroehlein 2015). Georgia also wished to tilt toward the West and NATO, while Azerbaijan hoped to run a multi-vector foreign policy and boost sales of oil and gas to European markets. Azerbaijan was engaged in conflicts with Armenia, viewed in many ways as a Russian proxy, and therefore was willing to cooperate with NATO via membership in the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and related Partnership for Peace programmes, though tensions over human rights issues re-emerged in 2017 (Kucera 2017). In turn, Russia has increasingly reinforced CSTO cooperation by bilateral security agreements with states such as Tajikistan and Armenia, clearly outlining the status of their forces and continued basing rights. Efforts were made to boost the CSTO cooperation throughout 2004–17, with the security grouping including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan as full members, and Afghanistan as an observer (De Haas 2017). CSTO has access to bases in Kyrgyzstan

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and Armenia, and continued deployment of sizeable Russian forces into Tajikistan. Several thousand Russian troops (estimates vary between 4000 and 7500), mainly the 201st Motor Rifle Division, have been stationed in the country, based on bilateral Russian–Tajikistan agreements of 1999, 2004 and 2012. They initially had a major role supporting control of the border with Afghanistan, but thereafter mostly were deployed in bases near cities (Dushanbe and Qurghonteppa), with leases running down to 2042. Russian troop numbers may have been slightly decreased to 7000 in 2016, but the force is being equipped with new armoured personnel carriers and battle tanks and engages in regular drills, while Russia promised continued military aid of up to $1.3 billion from 2015 onward (De Haas 2017; Gady 2016; Sodiqov 2012b; Vinson 2012). Russia remains the leader and major contributor of the CSTO, in terms of deployed troops, military equipment, and employees working in the small CSTO secretariat in Moscow (Kropatcheva 2016). The group now supports several functions beyond its early transitional role in the 1990s. Russia has sought to retain an integrated air-defence system, in part through CIS and CSTO agreements to allow the use of airport and defence radars. These are mainly directed towards the west and south. Though some radar stations in western Ukraine and Azerbaijan have been closed, Russia has regained use of the Dnepr station in Sevastopol and the Pluton ‘deep space communications and planetary radar system in Yevpatoria, Crimea’ (Sisoev 2015). Russia has also sought to retain major basing locations, including access to Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, but also temporary use of airports in Uzbekistan (at Navoi, in 2006–07), plus continued access to major air and naval bases in Crimea up until its annexation. Though Russian forces pulled out of their original bases in Georgia in 2006–08, they now retain a hold in the northern part of the country in breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia retains access to the Gyumri base and other centres in Armenia (with over 3200 personnel stationed there including FSB border guards, linked to Russia’s Southern Military District), along with use of bases in Syria and limited access to ports and airfields in Cyprus (Hawk et al. 2016; Sisoev 2015). This footprint, though not as integrated as former Soviet defences, does allow effective leverage across wider Central Asia, western Eurasia, and parts of the Middle East. It is also a way to prevent some of these states from drifting too far towards cooperation with NATO and the EU, a matter of particular importance in relation to Armenia and Kyrgyzstan (Abrahamyan 2016; Kropatcheva 2016). Negotiations for bases or port access in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Cuba and possibly Venezuela through 2015–17 suggest that Russia may be rebuilding its global military presence, even if on a modest scale.

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Russia hoped that the CSTO would form a strong defensive grouping that would bolster its western and southern defences, help deal with regional emergencies and improve its Eurasian leadership and regional influence. We can see this in the effort to build a Rapid Reaction Force for the CSTO, the CSTO Collective Rapid Reaction Force (CRRF). The strategic imperatives of the CRRF include: The CRRF, permanently based in Russia, is placed under a single command, with the CSTO member-states contributing special military units. It is formed on the basis of Russia’s 98th Airborne Division and the 31st Airborne Assault Brigade. In its efforts to emerge as an alternative to NATO, the CSTO also signed an agreement with the UN for creating a peacekeeping force in 2009. The member-states are in the process of forming a peace-making contingent for operations both on the territory of the CSTO member-states and, whenever necessary, beyond their boundaries on the strength of a UN mandate. (Upadhyay 2012)

CSTO joint exercises are usually quite small (between 2000 and 10 000), while in 2015 these forces rehearsed their ability to deploy along the Tajikistan–Afghani border and in August 2016 were engaged in exercises in north-west Russia, simulating resistance to a NATO assault. From a troubled provisional force, the CSTO and its rapid reaction capability has gained more importance with long-term concerns over the fate of Afghanistan and increasing tensions with the West and NATO. However, it is more likely to be concerned with maintaining border control, anti-narcotics and smuggling operations, improved air-defences, and with running anti-terrorism operations in CSTO territory rather than being engaged directly in operations on Afghan soil (Kropatcheva 2016). It is dwarfed, moreover, by Russia’s plan to expand its own national rapid reaction forces to around 60 000–70 000, based on its existing elite Airborne Forces (McDermott 2015). The relative strengths of the CSTO have been summarized by Marcel De Haas from the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University: It would be too easy to simply regard the CSTO as an instrument of Moscow’s security policy and part of Russia’s security organization. Since its founding in 2002, this military alliance has developed a mature organizational structure, which, at least on paper, resembles that of NATO. Furthermore, the tasking of the CSTO has moved from classical collective defense to modern security threats, which is similar to NATO’s conceptual development. In addition to the standing political and military command structure, the CSTO has already created, or is in the process of establishing, collective rapid reaction forces, collective peacekeeping forces, collective aviation forces,

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Even with renewed efforts to enhance CSTO roles from 2009, a range of limitations still hamper it as either a regional stabilizer or a tool of Russian influence. It is largely seen as a mechanism for Russian control regionally and for soft-balancing external influences in support of Russia’s wider foreign policy (McDermott 2010). It has limited capabilities and integration. The CSTO force is largely based on Russian and Kazakhstanian manpower and hardware, with more modest contributions by other states. However, Russia’s military itself needs continued military reform and has ongoing personnel problems, both in terms of number and quality of recruits. Kazakhstan is the only other major contributor to CSTO, and over the last few years has begun to develop a small but modern force that could contribute to regional security. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have very small force structures, and need more aid from the CSTO than they can provide to it. This is already the case with sizeable Russian deployments (up to 7500) in Tajikistan. The CSTO may be useful in anti-terrorism exercises and anti-drug operations, provide defence for energy infrastructure, and have a role in post-conflict peacekeeping and in monitoring small border infringements, but is only beginning to develop a functional alliance and command structure. Furthermore, political factors within the CSTO make even modest intervention roles problematic. In the case of the inter-ethnic and governance crisis in Kyrgyzstan in 2010, in spite of Kyrgyzstan’s request, neither Russian nor CSTO forces intervened militarily. In part this was due to Russian reluctance to support the new government, fears of being engaged in sustained civil war based on internal divisions, and to the complexities of distinguishing Kyrgyz from Uzbek protagonists (De Haas 2017; Kropatcheva 2016; Cheterian 2010). Indeed, in some views, Moscow prior to this may have been destabilizing the country, pressing it to close the US airbase there and delaying aid flows until after this was done (Blank 2014; Muzalevsky 2013). However, the CSTO was one of the first international organizations to send in an assessment team, did liaise with the UN, OSCE and EU, and subsequently provided some humanitarian aid and logistic support (Kropatcheva 2016). Thereafter, Kyrgyzstan moved towards closer alignment with Russia, including further integration into both CSTO and EEU structures (Blank 2014; Leonard 2015; Bowring 2014).

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Despite limitations, the organization is of some importance to small states such as Tajikistan, which has deepened its engagement with the CSTO over two decades. Tajikistan contributes an infantry battalion to the CSTO’s Collective Rapid Reaction Force (CRRF) and has allowed CSTO military exercises in the country in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015, while in April 2016 exercises were directed at stopping incursions by terrorists and against possible internal uprisings. The first large-scale military, intelligence and reconnaissance exercises were held in 2016, one involving up to 50 000 officials across a range of services (McDermott 2016; Putz 2016; Kucera 2016b). However, not all was smooth sailing in these relationships. Since December 2011 the CSTO reached an agreement that prohibits foreign military bases unless by the consent of all members, thereby avoiding a repetition of the US airbase located at Manas in Kyrgyzstan (closed 2014), not far from the Russian airbase near Kant. However, as a small, weak state, Tajikistan has reached out to a number of international partners besides Russia, including India, China and the SCO. India had helped repair and extend the airport at Ayni (near Dushanbe) from 2002–10, and may have hoped to base MiG-29 fighters and helicopters there as part of an ‘extended neighbourhood’ concept. However, in 2010–11 Tajikistan emphasized that Russia (and the CSTO) would need to approve such a presence (Muzalevsky 2011; Sodiqov 2012a and 2012b). In 2012, India and Tajikistan agreed on a new ‘Strategic Partnership’ which included support for India’s full SCO membership, but activities at the Ayni airbase were limited to the military hospital operating there. A further request to allow Indian military access was raised again in 2015 without success, though India had pledged mutual cooperation against terrorism (Kucera 2012; Daly 2015a). There are also diplomatic limitations to how far the CSTO can support Russia. Other CSTO members did not recognize the breakaway ‘states’ of South Ossetia or Abkhazia after Russia’s 2008 intervention in Georgia. No doubt this stance was influenced by similar internal fractures and ethnic divides within member states, including large Russian minorities in parts of Kazakhstan and Belarus (Trenin 2009; De Haas 2017). In the end, among UN nations only Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru would formally recognize the independence of these breakaway regions. Belarus and Kazakhstan were especially alarmed by the Crimea and Ukrainian interventions: both were concerned over lack of consultation and by their limited independence from Russian security policies, factors that may slow down further CSTO cooperation (Standish 2015a). In the long run, the larger states prefer multi-vector foreign policies, allowing them to engage a number of Asian and Western partners alongside Russia

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(Kropatcheva 2016). Too tight a security alliance would make this more open approach problematic even for Kazakhstan, which has presented itself as an active player in global affairs, willing to engage in dialogue with the EU, US, Turkey, Japan, NATO and the OSCE. Likewise, from 2017 the desire by some Russian officials to see CRRF troops function as observers in proposed de-escalation zones in Syria was not readily accepted by Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan (Botobekov 2017). Since CSTO decisions are consensus based, Russia is sometimes held back in using it to support its unilateral actions, leading to criticisms of the organization from within Russian military and political circles (Kropatcheva 2016). From 2013 the CSTO has also sought deeper cooperation with Afghanistan in order to devise a new ‘joint security proposal’ for the region, but with limited effect, largely due to caution about deployment of CSTO forces on Afghanistan’s territory (Bridge 2013). Furthermore, due to pressures from emerging security challenges such as Islamic State and NATO’s active support for Eastern European members, Russia may wish to enhance the balancing, deterrent and border control roles for the CSTO. Russia has also moved to deepen its own web of bilateral military agreements, including a recent rapprochement with Uzbekistan that allowed for small, joint drills in 2017. It has also increased diplomatic coordination on a proposed national reconciliation process to end the conflict in Afghanistan, though it is unlikely that Uzbekistan will rejoin the CSTO in the short term (Ramani 2017; Hawk et al. 2016). CSTO has had some limited coordination with the SCO from 2010, plus military cooperation with Pakistan, India and BRICS from 2016, but prospects for extra-regional roles and influence are still limited (Tass 2016d; McDermott 2010; see further below). Over time the CSTO has become more operational in joint exercises and training programmes, largely pushed by Russia’s and Tajikistan’s security concerns. However, the capacity of the grouping remains far below that of NATO and lacks the political scope and influence of the SCO. The limited involvement by Uzbekistan puts a hole in the centre of CSTO logistics and movement across wider Central Asia, and the grouping has had problems in providing security for relatively weak states that have been involved in military or political conflicts (Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan). The CSTO is viewed by Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Georgia as being not fully Eurasian in scope and mainly representing Moscow’s interests, acting as a tool of Russian ‘instrumental multilateralism’ (Kropatcheva 2016). In sum, the CSTO framework helps Russia but by itself cannot be a major provider for Eurasian or even wider Central Asian security needs. As a model it has not helped Russian leadership in the birth of a new European security

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architecture, as promoted by former President Medvedev from 2008. Here the SCO has a stronger but still limited role, but one not tuned to dealing with European issues. The CSTO has not brokered a coherent partnership with the SCO, nor achieved a relationship of balance or parity with NATO (Lo 2009; see further below). It remains to be seen whether President Trump will be able to improve relations with Russia and change NATO’s Eurasian dynamics. Indeed, if the US decides to place increased pressure on the PRC and Russia militarily and economically, this would provide further grounds for an upgrade of the CSTO’s limited capacities and could lead to closer Russia–China relations in the medium term, in part channelled through the SCO (Dorsey 2016).

THE SCO: FROM SECURITY DIALOGUE TO ENHANCED COOPERATION One of the most important cooperative mechanisms for Eurasia is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This organization, evolving from the earlier Shanghai Five, has moved past its declarative, formative stage, and is now one of the main drivers of security cooperation across an expanding sphere of Eurasia and South Asia. Its evolution indicates rapid shifts towards widened regional cooperation and a more inclusive agenda, aided by its expanded membership. However, there are limits to its ability to generate regional convergence, based on its structure as an intergovernmental dialogue among unequal partners. We can see this by a brief assessment of its evolving mandate and membership. The end of the Soviet Union saw a reduction in Russia–China tensions from the early 1990s, though China came to see that simultaneous economic and political reform was a dangerous path for a communist state. However, both Russia and China had a desire to resolve outstanding territorial disputes, to demilitarize their shared borders, to regulate crossing points, and to increase border trade. Confidencebuilding measures from 1997 included withdrawal of army units from immediate border areas, limits on the size of military exercises, and advance notice of planned manoeuvres (Albert 2015; Chung 2012). Resolution of most (but not all) outstanding border issues of China with Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan were completed during the 1994–99 period, covering 7600 km of frontier zones (Chinascope 2012). These negotiations laid the basis for an effective phase of multilateral diplomacy, resulting in the meetings of the Shanghai Five (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan), which was further expanded (with the addition of Uzbekistan) and institutionalized

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into the SCO through 2000–01. Thereafter it evolved into a multilateral intergovernmental organization dealing with security-related issues: military cooperation, counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing. The SCO’s ambit widened to include trade, energy, transport, finance and education cooperation, and from 2009 its missions targeted organized crime and cyber threats (Albert 2015; Lo 2008). The SCO is based on multilateral cooperation and enhanced partnerships, but is not a formal alliance system with security guarantees, and is not an anti-NATO grouping (De Haas 2017). However, it does provide an avenue for soft-balancing among states within Eurasia, with small states trading off Russian and Chinese influence. In turn, it soft-balances externally against US and NATO influence by the creation of alternative norms and principles, deepened economic engagement and institutional processes, and by seeking to limit outside military engagement in Eurasia affairs (for these approaches, see Kizekova and Parepa 2015; Pape 2005). The SCO Charter (2002) references the UN Charter with its emphasis on international law (SCO Charter Preamble), but also has a distinctive orientation on state sovereignty, non-aggression and mutual benefit (SCO Charter Article 2), drawing from both PRC and Russian diplomatic traditions. The SCO is based on the ‘Shanghai Spirit’ of ‘mutual trust, mutual advantage, equality, mutual consultations, respect for cultural variety’ (SCO Charter Preamble), with respect for diverse civilizations and the pursuit of common development. It thus parallels China’s Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence: ‘mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence’ (Sceats and Breslin 2012). It seeks to transcend the idea of Clash of Civilizations and advocates respect for diversity of civilizations, following elements of China’s Harmonious World Order concept and Russia’s ‘sovereign democracy’ idea, asserting that each civilization and state has its own path towards a legitimate political system. The SCO aims ‘to promote peace, cooperation, development and win-win progress in the context of independence’ (Zhang Deguang 2011, first Secretary-General of SCO). The SCO is also chartered to contribute to ‘political multi-polarity’ (Preamble), ‘to consolidate multidisciplinary cooperation in the maintenance and strengthening of peace, security and stability in the region’ (Article 1) and for the prevention of ‘any illegitimate acts directed against the SCO interests’ (Article 2). These reactive elements were more directly expressed in the Shanghai Five’s prior Dushanbe Declaration of July 2000:

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The Parties, firmly upholding the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and also affirming the right of every State to choose its own path of political, economic and social development in accordance with its actual conditions, are opposed to interference in the internal affairs of other States, including interference under the pretext of ‘humanitarian intervention’ and ‘protection of human rights’, and support each other’s efforts to defend the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and social stability of the five States. (UN Documents, Dushanbe Declaration, July 2000)

The core mission of the grouping is to control the ‘three evils’ of terrorism, fundamentalism and separatism, identified as early as 1998 (Chung 2012), expressed in the SCO Charter as to ‘jointly counteract terrorism, separatism and extremism in all their manifestations, to fight against illicit narcotics and arms trafficking and other types of criminal activity of a transnational character’ (SCO Charter Article 1; further developed in the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism). Out of these goals emerged the regular ‘Peace Missions’, multilateral military exercises held every two years to demonstrate the ability to deal with terrorist threats and related emergencies. SCO states have conducted a long series of bilateral and multilateral anti-terrorist exercises, Peace Missions and military assistance operations from 2002 to 2016, with numbers of troops involved ranging from 450 up to 10 000. Large SCO anti-terrorism drills were held in Inner-Mongolia during the Peace Mission in August 2014, with 7000 troops from five of the core member states (but not including Uzbekistan). This mission involved ground and air forces, special ops, electronic counter measures and reconnaissance operations. It used ‘drones, early-warning aircraft, air-defense missiles, tanks’, armoured vehicles, and assault helicopters in a scenario to resist ‘a separatist organization, supported by an international terrorist organization, plotting terrorist incidents and hatching a coup plot to divide the country’ (Tiezzi 2014b). The September 2016 Peace Mission in Kyrgyzstan also focused on counter-terrorism operations, with about 2000 soldiers and 40 combat aircraft drawn from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, China, Russia and Tajikistan (Tass 2016b). The SCO framework has expanded into a wider dialogue process to sustain positive inter-state relations, including regular summits of leaders, meetings of foreign and defence and other ministers, plus joint working groups on a wide number of issue areas (Chung 2012). Its Secretariat is headquartered in Beijing, with a fairly small staff supporting the Secretary-General, along with secondary input from think tanks such as the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, the Center for Central Asian Studies (from 2014), the Central Asia Institute, the Institute for the

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Study of the Silk Road (Northwestern University), and the Central Asia Institute (Xian University of Foreign Languages) and five new think tanks set up in Xinjiang (TWESCO 2015). Groups such as China’s International Strategic Studies (CIISS) and Russian Council for Foreign and Defense Policy (CFDP) also became involved in dialogue on the future of the SCO (Xinhua 2009). From 2015, the need to strengthen the ideational content of the SCO led to the creation of the virtual SCO University, a network of institutions across member and observer states, including Altai State University, Ural Federal University, Bishkek Humanities University, the New Economic University, the Russian-Tajik Slavonic University, Xinjiang University, Dalian University of Foreign Languages and Northeast Normal University (UrFU 2015). The SCO set up the Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) from 2004, with its headquarters in Tashkent, where Uzbekistan provides intelligence on terrorist groups operating in SCO countries. Uzbekistan was chosen for its central geographical location and because it suffered from the operations of groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU). It has an extensive National Security Service, the Sluhzba Natsionalnoy Bazapasnosti (SNB), which has its own paramilitary structures, monitors Uzbekistan’s borders and has proven effective in terms of its overall capacity and independence. However, this has come at the cost of its involvement in human rights abuses and possibly in the torture of suspects, a trend in line with Uzbekistan’s strongly anti-Islamist orientation (McGregor 2015; HRW 2014; McDermott 2013). The SNB has also been involved in extraterritorial surveillance, intelligence gathering and informal security operations. Focused on exile and émigré communities, these activities concerned Kyrgyzstan and to a lesser degree Kazakhstan, Russia and Europe. These operations were not limited to targeting Islamic militants but were also against democratic and civil society groups, using extradition, Interpol security alerts, threats and force to curb opposition voices. Assassinations and abductions are claimed to have been conducted by these security operatives abroad against Uzbek activists, journalists and religious leaders (Lewis 2015; Hug 2016). Although there is some cooperation with Russian security services and access to Uzbek detainees in Russia, Russian courts have been increasingly critical of SNB claims and rejected some extradition requests, suspecting that refoulement to Uzbekistan will lead to torture or even the death of returnees (Lewis 2015). In spite of agreements to do so from 2004, RATS has not developed an integrated database and Central Asian states remain very cautious on sharing intelligence information multilaterally (McDermott 2013). With

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Uzbekistan’s withdrawal from the CSTO and limited engagement in SCO operations, it is not clear that the current framework provides systematic intelligence on region-wide security threats. However, from 2013, RATS set up a special unit to help China and other SCO members track internet material linked to terrorism (Mackerras 2015; Lain 2014). Terrorist attacks in Kazakhstan in early 2016, against the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan in August 2016, and increased IS recruitment operations in wider Central Asia may push cooperation further. The changing leadership of Uzbekistan under President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has allowed a closer relationship with Russia in 2017 and reduced tensions with neighbouring states, a trend that may generate incentives to reinvigorate SCO’s intelligence exchange system (Ramani 2017). In parallel, the CIS also runs an Anti-Terrorism Centre, which has coordinated exercises in Central Asia and on the Caspian Sea, runs annual meetings of national heads of anti-terrorist bodies, and maintains a representative office for Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (De Haas 2017; CIS 2017). This Centre maintains a specialized databank, and liaises to some degree with the SCO, the Council of Europe and Interpol. However, these different agencies have not yet provided a coherent anti-terrorism agenda for what has been termed the ‘Central Asian Regional Security Complex’, let alone for Eurasia as a whole (Troitskiy 2015). In recent years the SCO has expanded to include new members and a widened set of interests. In 2011–14 the SCO set out the obligations and rules for candidate countries for progression to full membership. Such states must be within the Eurasian region, have diplomatic relations with all member states, have trade and economic ties, should not be under UN sanctions or in an armed conflict, and their security obligations must not clash with SCO treaties or agreements (Kizekova 2013a). Beyond the addition of Uzbekistan to the core five members, the SCO soon gained a wide range of observer states (Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Belarus), and dialogue partners (Nepal, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Armenia, Cambodia), with Azerbaijan acquiring this status in March 2016 – perhaps in response to slow progress by the OSCE on solving the dispute over the NagornoKarabakh (Daly 2016; Kucera 2016b). In 2015–16 India and Pakistan acceded to full membership, involving commitments across more than thirty key cooperation documents (Tass 2016a). This is a pivotal stage for the group, giving it a footprint that may help stabilize tensions across wider Central Asia and South Asia in the long run. It has been argued that Russia may have seen Indian membership as a way to diffuse China’s growing influence in the organization (Grossman 2017; Dobbs 2014; Albert 2015).

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India, an observer to the SCO since 2005, receives several benefits from accession to full membership. It provides an extra gateway to Eurasian markets and helps India’s wider ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy. There is also the prospect of future access to regional energy networks if the southern Silk Road project can be funded and if energy cooperation, debated for more than a decade, can be formalized through the ongoing India–China Strategic Economic Dialogue. The SCO is also an avenue to support India’s initiatives towards Afghanistan (see Chapter 3), helps balance Pakistan’s influence in Central Asia, and may allow India to further engage Russia, China and Central Asian states on regional projects, such as the slowly evolving Turkmenistan–Afghanistan– Pakistan–India (TAPI) pipeline (Roy 2014). India has been a victim of religious extremism and terrorism, and is therefore ready to work with the SCO on these issues (Kumar 2013). Furthermore, as a non-aligned state, India supports the non-intervention principle of the SCO and seeks an alternative developmental based on poverty reduction, individual empowerment, upgraded services, resource sustainability and an increasing focus on knowledge-based economies. In general terms, India’s extended engagement in the SCO accords with its foreign policy, and may yield positive engagement with both China and Russia in the long term. Indeed, China may have hoped that its support for Indian membership in the SCO would have encouraged a more positive view on BRI projects, but India remains especially cautious of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (Grossman 2017; Luft 2016; see further in Chapter 6). Rapid expansion of the SCO could turn the grouping into an economic, energy and military powerhouse, but might also dilute consensusdecision-making and realistic security cooperation within the organization (Dobbs 2014). With the end of UN sanctions there are no legal barriers for Iran to move up from observer status to full membership, with strong Russian and qualified Chinese support for this in 2016–17. This could yield improved cooperation on counter-terrorism, stabilization of Afghanistan’s borders, and enhance alternative transport corridors, for example the international North–South Transport Corridor linking India, Iran, the Caspian region and Russia (Yegorov 2016; Yousefi 2013). Turkey was accepted as dialogue partner from June 2012 and expressed hopes of full membership again in 2016. However, support for this was undermined by Russia–Turkey tensions during 2015–16 and ongoing political instability within Turkey. Full membership remains impossible while Turkey is a member of the NATO alliance, and in spite of Russian support for Ankara, China prefers a gradual, step-by-step approach as its wider role in Middle Eastern affairs slowly evolves (Gaspers and Huotari

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2017; Roy 2014). Egypt, Serbia, Qatar, Vietnam and Syria have been suggested as possible partners to the SCO at some level, such as through external trade agreements. However, Mongolia, currently an observer, remains cautious of being further locked into dependence on Russia and China, preferring a multi-vector policy diversifying its partnerships to include engagement with states such as Japan and the US, as well as limited cooperation with NATO via its Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme (Bayarbat 2017; Rinna 2016; Kumar 2013). The SCO has also moved into a wider range of activities, emerging as a web of business and energy networks rather than an international governmental organization (IGO) focused only on security issues (Shlapentokh 2013). Beyond renewed coordination to fight organized crime and ‘internet counter-terrorism’ operations, other issue areas that have been taken up include boosting regional trade, enhanced transport links, energy and environmental protection, as well as finance and education cooperation (Wood 2015; Albert 2015). From 2003 SCO members signed Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation agreements, which entailed a ‘long-term vision of progressively implementing the free flow of goods, capital, and services’, though Russia may have been concerned that this would give China too much influence unless its own EEU could be firmly established (Chinascope 2012; Lo 2008). The SCO Business Council and Interbank Consortium were established from 2005, followed by the SCO Development Bank and the SCO Development Fund from 2013 (Pu and Chen 2013). The idea of an SCO Energy Club was proposed by Russia as early as 2006, allowing cooperation among energy producers, transit countries and consumers to stabilize supply and costs (InfoSCO 2015; Koolaee and Tishehyar 2013; Kundu 2013). The SCO Energy Club provides a useful forum for further dialogue on energy cooperation and emerging networks, engaging current SCO members as well as Turkey, Belarus, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Iran. However, India still has a small ‘energy footprint’ in Central Asia, Uzbekistan has limited engagement in SCO processes, and Turkmenistan, one of the world’s largest gas exporters, is not a member (Saha 2014). Turkey had hoped to evolve into an energy hub for oil and gas pipelines coming from the Middle East and Russia (and had even chaired the SCO Energy Club in 2017), but this agenda has been delayed by the impact of internal political instability, tensions over the Kurdish push towards independence within northern Iraq, and Europe’s energy diversification (Dieke and Schroder 2017; Dogan 2015). Overall, the SCO’s Energy Agenda has a long way to go before evolving into an influential group, especially given reduced gas and oil prices and the spread of fracking technologies.

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There are real limits to the level of economic integration and security cooperation within the SCO. Serious operational problems hamper the grouping, which uses diverse national languages, has a lack of military interoperability in spite of the mainstream use of Russian weapons platforms, problems of military transit across member countries, and ongoing tensions over the limited engagement of Uzbekistan (De Haas 2017; Kizekova 2013a; McDermott 2012). There has also been a tendency for some member states to hedge their economic and military gains by cooperation with NATO. Kyrgyzstan hosted the US Manas air base until mid-2014, largely for financial reasons. Kazakhstan signed a military cooperation agreement with the US in 2003, is a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace framework and has been involved in its Planning and Review Process programmes, has participated in major NATO exercises, for example the Steppe Eagle exercises from 2003 to 2016, and has created a peacekeeping battalion (KAZBAT) designed to operate with Western forces (Turebekova 2016; Bupezhanova 2015; Weitz 2013). Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan have also signed onto the Partnership for Peace framework, with diverse levels of engagement, indicating a desire to limit or diversify dependence on Russia, the CSTO and/or the SCO as security providers. Militarily, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is constrained by a lack of political convergence. Though it has conducted many military exercises, the SCO has not been actively involved in actual peacekeeping or emergency intervention activities collectively. Thus the SCO did not intervene in the political and inter-ethnic crises in Kyrgyzstan in 2005 and 2010, perhaps due to the caution on military interventions felt by the Chinese government and regional concerns over negative outcomes, including increased refugee flows (Matveeva 2011; Weitz 2010). Likewise, the SCO has had a limited role in control of transnational border issues, though one of its early mandates had been the de-militarization of shared borders. The SCO via its Charter and the SCO Bishkek Declaration of 2013 emphasizes non-interference and is opposed to the use of force unauthorized by the UNSC: it was initially opposed to armed intervention in Syria and could not offer strong endorsement of Russian interventions in Georgia or Ukraine, though it supported a political resolution of the Ukrainian conflict based on the Minsk accords in 2015–16 (FMPRC 2016; Kizekova 2014; Xinhua 2013). This means that external peacekeeping roles under SCO frameworks remain extremely unlikely, though member states have been able to supply peacekeepers to UN mandated operations (especially China, India and Pakistan, with small contributions by Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in 2017). At this stage, it is much easier for a state such as Tajikistan to

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expand preventive mechanisms by bilateral cooperation with Russia and China, rather than seeking to expand the proactive role of the SCO. China and Uzbekistan, in particular, are cautious about allowing any evolution of SCO towards a collective enforcement role. The SCO can be seen as partly soft-balancing against US influence, but also as a way to moderate China–Russia tensions and allow a voice for smaller states in regional affairs. Russia in the past had wanted to focus on security rather than economic cooperation in the SCO to favour its own EEU agenda, seeing the SCO and CSTO as hard power tools against Western dominance (Rambler News Service 2016; Albert 2015; RT 2015). China, alternatively, saw the SCO as a hedge against nontraditional security threats as its economic interests expanded westwards, using the SCO as one part of Asian dialogue mechanisms including CICA, the Istanbul Process, the Ulaanbaatar Process (from 2015) and the Boao Forum. China is gradually taking on a greater security role in wider Central Asia, alongside reduced external influences from the United States and the West generally (Ovozi 2016). Chinese President Xi Jinping would like the SCO to become the main regional stabilization mechanism, arguing that the SCO ‘should take it as our own responsibility to safeguard regional security and stability, enhance our ability to maintain stability, continue to boost cooperation on law enforcement and security, and improve the existing cooperation mechanisms’ (Tiezzi 2014a). However, this is very much within the context of China’s ‘development as security’ approach, rather than seeing the SCO as a collective deterrence mechanism directed against external threats. The SCO has had an important communicative and socialization role for its members, observers and dialogue partners. Through norms focused on state integrity and stabilization it may also have had an impact on organizations such as the OSCE, which has had to de-emphasize its human rights agenda to remain relevant to wider Central Asia (Lewis 2012). From 2010, the OSCE has been strongly focused on enhancing security, border and policing capabilities in Central Asia, with institutional reform and training programmes running with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and renewed dialogue with Uzbekistan in 2017 (OSCE 2013 and 2016). Russia, in turn, has sought to invigorate the SCO process through its effort in preparing the detailed SCO Development Strategy Towards 2025, approved at the 2015 SCO summit, providing a roadmap on regional and global affairs, and allowing greater coordination of BRI, EEU and BRICS projects with the developmental needs of diverse member states (Song 2016, pp. 160–62; for coordination among BRICS and the SCO, see the Ufa Declaration 2015, Section 3). From the Russian perspective the SCO could be one among several hubs for the

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emergence of a ‘Grand Eurasia Community’ over the next decade, though cooperation with the EU has remained a weak link (Vasilyeva and Lagutina 2016, pp. 51–3). For China, the SCO represents a crucial phase in ‘multilateralizing’ its diplomatic agenda, and provides a potential political and security framework to help support its BRI agenda (see further Chapter 6). In sum, the SCO may evolve in the future into a genuine regional security community, but remains at an early stage of development. It does not have binding collective security agreements (as found in NATO or the CSTO) and has not moved securely into the realm of preventive diplomacy or dispute resolution, largely due to its emphasis on noninterference, and China’s cautious role in mediating international disputes (Kizekova 2014). One obvious solution would be for greater cooperation between the SCO and CSTO, thereby reinforcing alignment between China and Russia. Such aspirations have been expressed as part of a new SCO role: First, the organization, however loosely institutionalized, claims to have a multidimensional role, allowing its members to use it for promoting all kinds of ‘globalized’ aspirations, ranging from attracting new members, redefining the institutional underpinnings of the world economy, shifting the power of international financing mechanisms to fit the allegedly new economic powerbalance in the world, and pushing for a new world order. (Flikke 2016)

However, military cooperation between the CSTO and SCO has remained limited, perhaps because of concerns of who would become the dominant security provider regionally, and due to the different legal and normative frameworks of the two organizations (Flikke 2016; Kizekova 2013a). Indeed, Russian efforts to run Peace Mission 2007 under joint CSTO–SCO auspices were rejected by Beijing, perhaps because of an implicit competitive element between the two organizations, with China fearing at that stage that the SCO would emerge as having less operational ability (Lo 2008, p. 49). Likewise, Uzbekistan, only now seeking greater international engagement, was cautious of SCO operations that would involve CSTO command structures and cede further influence to Russia and Kazakhstan, the latter often viewed as a peer competitor for regional influence (De Haas 2017). The SCO remains the most likely political framework for coordinating cooperation across the core of Eurasia, and may be able in the long run to moderate tensions among Russia, China, India and Central Asian states. However, this is very much a work in progress for a recently expanded organization, still needing to cope with the addition of Pakistan and India as new members. This can be seen in Indian Prime Minister Narendra

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Modi’s speech addressing the 17th Summit of the SCO. He outlined the compatible themes of fighting terrorism and radicalization, but also demanded mutual respect for ‘core concerns’. During this visit he indirectly referenced sensitive issues such as the impact of the China– Pakistan Economic Corridor on disputed territories in Kashmir and argued for improved management of differences between India and China (Reuters 2017d). A growing convergence of norms and articulation of shared interests has been demonstrated by the SCO in recent years, but management of differences and dispute resolution mechanisms remain weak and underdeveloped.

PARTIAL PIVOTS AND LIMITED EURASIAN INTEGRATION In large measure we can see that both the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization demonstrate the impact of leading states on regional organizations in terms of meeting their national interests, but also generating reactive balancing by other states, limited convergence, and only gradual integration. To some degree 21st-century Eurasian processes can be seen as the confluence of two major ‘pivots’ by states needing to improve their economic and security environment as they adapt to changing global conditions. While Obama’s ‘rebalance’ to Asia gained only limited traction, from 2011 Putin sought to revitalize Russia’s role by a pivot to Asia (sometimes described as a pivot to the Pacific), developing Siberia and Far Eastern territories as a platform for deepened engagement with the dynamism of the IndoPacific (see Darkin and Kvint 2017; Huang and Korolev 2017). This trend was intensified after Western sanctions were imposed on Russia from 2014, leading to efforts to expand exports to the East along with related patterns of investment and strategic cooperation. In parallel, China’s framing of its role in the SCO, AIIB and BRI can be seen as a large-scale extension of its earlier ‘look west’ policies, now gaining traction across much of Eurasia (see Chapter 1 and Chapter 6). Historically, Russia’s expansion eastward and its access to Siberian and Far East resources helped underpin the industrial power of the Soviet Union. In the 21st century, Siberian oil, gas, coal, metals, minerals, maritime, forest and agricultural resources remain essential for the Russian economy. Taken as a whole, Siberia and the Russian Far East represent a long-term reserve of all strategic resources, including major hydro-power and wind power potentials that are being expanded to 2035 for electricity exports into China (Willis 2017; Ng 2011). By 2011 Russia

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was becoming increasingly reliant on these resources, with about $350 billion of a total of $516 billion of exports coming from Siberia, increasing to 76–78 per cent from energy-rich eastern sectors in 2014 (Inozemtsev 2013 and 2017; Ryzhkov et al. 2012). However, much of this found its way to Western markets, with the EU remaining Russia’s largest trade partner, accounting for 45–55 per cent of total trade in recent decades, but with declining values for exports from 2013 onwards (Workman 2017; Nevskaya 2016; Trenin 2013). Russia’s total exports to Asia have gradually increased to 35.7 per cent of total exports (by value), though this will be further boosted as energy exports to China increase over the next 30 years as major oil and gas pipelines are completed and come up to full load (Tsvetov 2017; Workman 2017). Politically, though early expansion east led to conflicts with imperial China and then Japanese spheres of influence, Russia sought to emerge as a transcontinental power with influence across Central and East Asia, including access onto the Pacific, where for a time it maintained trading and fur stations across parts of Alaska and North America, with Russian ships visiting Japan and the Hawaiian islands in the early 19th century (Bobrick 1992). This theme re-emerged under the Soviets, with leaders including Kalinin (1923), Khrushchev (1954, 1959) and Brezhnev (1966, 1978) giving speeches emphasizing the importance of the Far East, a trend that culminated in Gorbachev’s 1987 Vladivostok Initiative, declaring a new age of development for the USSR as a Pacific power (Stephan 1992). However, these claims were hard to sustain for a down-sized Russia, even as its economy began to rebound in the early 21st century. Reduced public investment in the Siberian region since 2008 and shrinking of remote communities led to renewed fears of sustained population decline and increased penetration of the Far East sector by Chinese business interests, leading to a revision of Russian policies in 2008–12 (Lukin 2015b; Malle and Cooper 2014). President Putin saw increased engagement with the Asia-Pacific as essential for Russia’s future: We see before our eyes not only the rise of China and India, but the growing weight of the entire Asia-Pacific Region … . We are actively preparing for it, creating modern infrastructure that will promote the further development of Siberia and the Russian Far East and enable our country to become more involved in the dynamic integration processes in the new Asia. (Putin 2012a)

In late 2012 President Putin pointed out that the Far East Development Ministry had not reached its goal of accelerated development, with Russia needing to increase state funds for local investment to $3.2 billion

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and to offer companies tax incentives for eastern development (Malle and Cooper 2014). A year later while addressing the Federal Assembly, he once again emphasized the importance of the Asian Pivot, noting that ‘Russia’s re-orientation toward the Pacific Ocean and the dynamic development of all our eastern territories will not only open up new economic opportunities and new horizons, but also provide additional instruments for an active foreign policy’ (Putin 2013). The 2013–2018 Plan for the Development of the Far East foresaw an acceleration of most economic indicators compared to the national averages, but was optimistic in seeking investment of 6.8 trillion roubles (65 per cent of the total) from the private sector (Malle and Cooper 2014). Thereafter Russia sought to further boost transport infrastructure and processing enterprises. An extra 624 million euros were allocated for investment into Far East Railway networks in 2016, including upgrades for the carrying capacity of the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur lines (Eurasiatx 2016). Siberia and the Far East are also important to Russia for military and strategic reasons. Vladivostok, literally ‘Lord of the East’, acted as a long-term base for the Russian Pacific Fleet, later on supported by air-force and air-defence units. The Far Eastern Military Command had been crucial in Cold War strategies and is a linchpin in Russia’s new security agenda which includes the protection of resources and the development of Arctic sea routes that have increasingly opened up due to climate change (Russian Federation 2008, 2015 and 2016). Military capabilities in the Far East, Kuril Islands and in the Arctic were expanded from 2009, with increased numbers of tanks deployed from 2013, as well as advanced Su-35 multi-role fighters being deployed into the Amur region, along with 400 extra combat aircraft being moved to the Far East command. In 2014–17 the Pacific Fleet’s capacities were upgraded, with three new Borei class nuclear power submarines (armed with Bulava ICBMs) becoming operational in Arctic and Siberian waters, in addition to two amphibious assault ships (Tass 2016b; Russian Federation 2015; Chipman et al. 2013; Weitz 2011). Military and port facilities at Vladivostok and Vilyuchinsk have been upgraded, mooring locations on Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands improved, and the new anti-missile and Iskander-M tactical missiles have been deployed into the Far East (Plopsky 2017; Gorka 2016). This military pivot was slowed but not stopped by a renewed emphasis on northern and western commands and large-scale exercises there (Schmitt 2017; Chipman et al. 2017). Ongoing air–sea–land military drills were conducted in the east, with the Vostok2014 drill engaging 100 000 servicemen and air/maritime assets across north-east Siberia, followed by amphibious exercises in the Sea of Japan in March 2015 (Goldstein 2016; Conley and Rohloff 2015).

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Likewise, Asian links have become more important as tensions with the European Union continued over the Ukraine crisis, and with unflagging efforts by EU and Ukraine to decrease energy dependence on Russia. The 2014 EU Energy Security Strategy seeks greater energy efficiency, an increase in EU energy production and greater use of renewables. The EU also has access to Norwegian, Saudi and Caspian Basin energy suppliers, and aims to expand LNG ship-based imports, for example the new LNG terminal in Lithuania for LNG imports into Baltic States (EC 2016a; Johnson 2015a; EC 2014). Russia in turn has sought to expand economic relations with China, India, individual Southeast Asian states and ASEAN as a whole; meanwhile the EEU has been promoting Asian FTAs, beginning with Vietnam (Trickett 2017b). The quest for a rapid expansion of energy exports eastward, however, has not been easy. Obstacles include infrastructure bottlenecks and the huge cost and long-term development of major projects, with the existing East Siberia– Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline and the new Power of Siberia and Altai gas networks only gradually coming fully on stream in coming decades (see further Chapter 5). Moreover, the emphasis on the East as an economic mainstay and security bastion also represents a major security dilemma for Russia. Siberia has a comparatively low population of 28 million, with only 8 million in the Far East sector. Further population decline is expected due to Russia’s low birth demographics and outmigration, especially of the young and also from smaller, remote communities. Rural areas and the Arctic Far East have experienced a particularly serious decline, as young people move into towns and then to western areas (Lo 2015). In the period 1989–2010, 2.2 million people left the areas beyond the Urals, with overall population of Siberia and the Russian Far East dropping by 3.57 million (Ryzhkov et al. 2012). Likewise, finding regular, full employment in remote areas has been highly problematic, with traditional hunting, farming and herding unable to generate strong, regular wages (Sobanski 2001). Employment tied to mining, energy sectors, timber and fishing remains important, but it often relies on a transient work force, with many skilled workers in the energy sector being drawn in from overseas. However, average wages in Siberia remained well below the national levels in 2015 (Inozemtsev 2017). This trend has exacerbated Russian concerns over Chinese migration, legal and non-documented, with reports of up to 500 000 migrants in total across the entire region (Alexeeva 2008). Chinese border provinces have significantly greater population density and GDP than Russia’s eastern regions: ‘in 2010, the regional domestic products of Russia’s three eastern federal districts totaled roughly $372 billion, compared with

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$538 billion worth of goods and services produced by the four Chinese provinces’ (Saradzhyan 2013). This resurrected fears of Chinese economic influence leading to ‘de facto loss of Russia’s sovereignty’ in these remote regions, no longer seen as a demographic invasion but an issue of economic dependency (Saradzhyan 2013). Overall perceptions of growing imbalance remain: by 2017, the Russian GDP was seven times smaller than China’s (in US$), with Russia providing only around 1 per cent total Asian trade volumes (Brown 2017; Hong 2016b). These factors are now consistently downplayed by Russian media, with government channels insisting on the deep, win–win nature of Sino-Russian relations (see Chapter 5). However, this pattern makes it extremely difficult to sustain an effective and competitive pivot towards Asia. The pivot also sought to gain more political influence across the Indo-Pacific, for example with Japan, China, Vietnam, South Korea and India, plus stronger regional engagement with ASEAN, in the ASEAN Regional Forum and in the East Asia Summit (Weitz 2016; Trenin 2014). This foreign policy alignment has been subsumed into a combined Arctic–Siberia–Asia strategy that would give Russia a key seat at the table in Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific affairs – a much bigger agenda than Eastern European crises or Black Sea problems (Klimenko 2015; Malle and Cooper 2014). Moscow’s Asian Pivot was thus seen as essential for the future power balance and for sustaining Russia’s global role, entailing: the modernization of defence industry and the accelerated development of Siberia and, in particular, the Far East: two thirds of Russian territory much of which is in decay. This is badly needed due to the increasing gap in opportunities between the West and the East of the country, the need to increase trade with emerging markets, mainly in Asia, to compensate for turbulence in Europe, and is advisable, in the view of the authorities, as a response to an increasingly confident China. (Malle and Cooper 2014)

As part of a wider Eurasia pivot (via Indo-Pacific and ‘Greater Eurasia’ integration) this geo-economic strategy might have provided the foundational basis for Russian power and security in the first half of the 21st century (Diesen 2017; Myers 2015). However, throughout 2014–17 many commentators saw Russia’s eastward pivot as either a failure or as seriously underperforming (see, for example, Blakkisrud 2017; Eder and Huotari 2016; Baev 2016). Russia’s political and economic culture has resulted in Far East planning that is highly securitized, with modernization from above and a very strong role for state planning. This has led to an emphasis on resource and energy exports with smaller gains in small and medium-sized businesses, plus

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limited R&D investment (Malle and Cooper 2014). There are constraints on Russia’s political and strategic posture: it needs further modernization of its Pacific fleet and better military diplomacy to influence soft power dynamics in the Indo-Pacific. Russia is a relatively late player in Asia-Pacific regionalism, following ASEAN, US, Chinese and Indian initiatives. This has led to slow gains, mainly through key bilateral engagements, for example with India and Vietnam, and to a lesser extent Thailand and Indonesia, though Russia remains an important economic supporter and potential interlocutor with North Korea (Lukin and Zakharova 2017; Osborn 2017; Trickett 2017b; Sussex 2015; Christoforou 2014). Likewise, the China–Russia relationship, though deepening in terms of military cooperation, remains beset by economic limitations and diverging strategic perspectives (Baev 2016; see further Chapter 4). More widely, Russia faces serious regional stability problems: its relationship with Japan is constrained by the continuing dispute over the South Kuril Islands and Prime Minister Abe’s strategic activism (generally aligned with the US); tensions have increased on the Korean Peninsula over the North’s ongoing expansion of missile and nuclear capabilities; and China–Japan–US relations continue to be problematic. Put simply, Russia’s eastwards pivot is linked onto a troubled Northeast Asia with increased patterns of competition and hedging rather than sustained cooperation (McPherson 2016). Solutions to most of these problems lie with ASEAN-centred, US and Chinese diplomacy, with less scope for Russian diplomatic initiatives. Overall, China’s ‘westward strategy’ has emerged as a more diffuse but much more successful pivot, but has generated serious dilemmas that have yet to be resolved (see further Chapters 1 and 6). We can see, then, that at present no single organization can manage the security and economic needs of Eurasia, and that there is insufficient convergence and coordination of CIS, EEU, CSTO and SCO agendas to provide these functions. Alternative programmes run through NATO and the OSCE have limited or competitive components, leading to a turbulent ‘Eurasian transition’ in the current decade. Nor have Russian and Chinese pivots generated a smooth confluence of policies that could symbiotically create a new phase of regional integration, though coordination of BRI and the EEU indicate the beginnings of this process (see Chapters 5 and 6). Cooperative and competitive patterns of multipolarity, rather than deep regional integration, will shape the Eurasia landscape in the short and medium term. Whether this can be negotiated into a convergent multilateralism remains to be seen.

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NOTE 1.

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Parallel trends also occurred in the Gagauzia region in the south of Moldova, leading to autonomous status but without the same level of conflict and without a direct Russian presence, though tensions remained high there in 2014 with the possible threat of a declaration of independence driven by intense internal political competition (see Tudoroiu 2016).

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3. Great power miscalculations in wider Central Asia Wider Central Asia represents a rich tapestry of relationships across time and space. Except for relatively brief tribal confederations (Huns, Uighur, Zunghar and numerous Turkic groups) and the slightly longer Mongol imperium, wider Central Asia was often a connective transit-zone linking tribal groups, city-states and khanates to territorial states in the east, west and north. China, Byzantium, Persia, the Seljuk and Ottoman empires, and then Russia interacted across the diverse silk and steppe roads, carrying on a brisk exchange in prestige goods, ideas, religions, tribute and influence. Efforts by peripheral empires to control the steppe and its people were notoriously difficult: the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great died trying to conquer the Scythians, Darius I wearied of chasing them past the Volga River, Byzantium found it difficult to sustain influence north and east of the Black Sea, and Chinese empires from the Han to the Ming found operations to control the steppe expensive and risky (Herodotus 1972, IV.2–15 and IV.125–36; Frankopan 2015; Grousset 2010; Luttwak 2009). The Russian empire did manage to expand across much of Central Asia, but in the late 19th century found itself in complex competition and confrontation with the British, needing Afghanistan, Tibet and even Iran to function as partial buffers in the ‘Great Game’. The Soviets came closest to securing control over much of northern Eurasia, but in the 1970s and 1980s faced complex intervention scenarios in Afghanistan to secure their influence. Ironically, the supposed success of covert Western strategies to arm the Mujahideen during that period would help usher in the civil wars of the 1990s and the advent of the Taliban as a conquering force thereafter. Likewise, the United States’ intervention against Al Qaeda and the Taliban may have begun as a ‘security operation’ initiating the ‘global war on terror’, but soon merged into a long-term politicosocial stabilization effort that was too big a job even for NATO and major economic donors, including Germany and Japan. In spite of the loose formulation of a southward looking ‘New Silk Road’, the US did not implement a coherent regional strategy beyond that of an AfPAK theatre of operations and reconstruction, thereafter only partly revised towards a 60

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somewhat more regional approach (IISS 2017; Clarke 2013 and 2016a; Starr 2004 and 2008). Great power miscalculations in wider Central Asia laid the basis for a region wrought with ethnic complexity, unfinished nation-building exercises, until recently poorly delineated and still poorly controlled borders, all complicated by chronic underdevelopment. These trends have been repeated in the 21st century with the problematic US invasion of Afghanistan and NATO’s early drawdown of forces, while no other single great power, whether Russia, China or India, has the ability to act as a dominant patron or security provider across the region. Multilateral efforts via the CSTO, SCO and OSCE have begun to respond to these problems, but have yet to sustain a coherently supported strategy for Eurasia’s future (see Chapter 2). This has resulted in a complex environment for Central Asian states, where, with the exception of Kazakhstan, state capabilities remain relatively weak and poorly managed nontraditional security threats have become the norm. Simple factors such as maintaining healthcare, clean water, providing continuous electricity and heating in winter remain problematic for Tajikistan – and even in rural parts of modernizing Uzbekistan (for infrastructure investment needs, see BTI 2016a; EIA 2014). Flows of illicit goods, transnational criminal networks and militant ideologies continue to challenge the authoritarian states of Central Asia, creating new patterns of collusion and inclusive corruption that are extremely difficult to mitigate. Efforts at building integrated Central Asian organizations to rationalize economic interactions and cope with shared problems, such as infrastructure and water access in the Aral Basin, have remained relatively weak. Thus the Central Asian Economic Union idea (launched from 1994) has had little impact from 2005 onward, while the wider Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Framework (from 2001), working with the Asian Development Bank, has had more success in infrastructure development (Zhambekov 2015; Sun 2013). Likewise, the International Fund for the Aral Sea (IFAS) has only become moderately financed since 2014, with slow implementation of regional programmes (Pribylovsky 2016; Armstrong 2014). This is partly due to long-term suspicions among ethnic and political groups in these new states, competition between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for ‘middle power’ influence, and tensions between upstream and downstream states. In the end, external powers are much more likely to provide necessary investment and military aid rather than nearby Central Asian peers. Ironically, it is this group of states, along with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and Iran that are crucial components in any wider Eurasian ‘settlement’. Divergent narratives of empowerment, however, still divide the region. This occurs not only on

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the basis of individual national interests, but on the strategies chosen to achieve them. Inter-state interactions across wider Central Asia include complex partnerships among great powers (Russia and China), competition among ‘troubled’ middle powers (Turkey and Iran, regionally Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan), the presence of fragile small states (Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan), troubled ‘hinge’ states (Afghanistan and Pakistan) and external influences from the US, EU, India, Japan and to some degree Saudi Arabia.1 Increasingly, Central Asian states have become enmeshed in Asian trade flows and multilateral diplomatic networks, some with a distinct Asian identity, such as the SCO, CICA, OBOR and the AIIB (Contessi 2016). However, the Russian security and trade initiatives, combined with the desire for extra-regional partners including NATO, the EU and the US by many of the Central Asian states, has made this a contested process. These factors have meant that both nation-building and regional institutions are still incomplete across wider Central Asia, with a straightforward Chinese regional hegemony or a strong Sino-Russian security diarchy being unlikely for the foreseeable future (Lo 2017a; Watts et al. 2016). This has created a cauldron of multipolar influence in the heart of Eurasia, working at several levels, but only slowly moving towards functional cooperation on specific issues. It remains to be seen whether this process will lead to a consolidating ‘concert of Asia’, or a contested multipolarity based on the ‘competitive logic of dynamic confrontation and search for preponderance’ (Contessi 2016, p. 11). In this setting, the stability and foreign policy agenda of middle powers and small states in the heart of Eurasia can have a significant influence on regional dynamics.

THE SUPERFICIAL STABILITY OF CENTRAL ASIAN REGIMES The general expectation in the West has been that the Newly Independent States of Eurasia would gradually evolve from post-communist majoritarian politics focused on a strong single leader towards hybrid and then democratic political systems. This expectation has been largely unfulfilled, with consolidating authoritarian regimes in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan. Troubled or hybrid democracies are found in Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Georgia, sometimes going through repeated periods of crisis. Even Turkey, once thought to be tracking towards a more democratic, secular state has now shifted direction as a deeply divided semi-authoritarian state, intensified by the

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failed coup of July 2016. Without making moral judgements on ‘preferred’ political systems, questions remain about the stability of these governments and whether they are good partners for regional cooperation and human development. We can assess this by looking briefly at two states in the heart of Eurasia: Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Uzbekistan can be seen as a ‘Central Asian strategic linchpin’ and potential middle power in regional terms, alongside Kazakhstan (Shishkin 2011). It has a relatively large population (over 31 million), the largest military of core Central Asian states (with 48 000 active personnel), a feared National Security Service with extra-territorial reach, a fair resource base including increasing hydrocarbon exports, uranium, gold and cotton, and modest manufacturing potentials (Chipman et al. 2017; Lewis 2015; EIA 2014; McDermott 2013). It sees itself as the key player in the region, but has been concerned to limit or balance Russia’s and Kazakhstan’s influence in order to retain its strategic autonomy. It has thus resisted engagement in the EEU, left the CSTO in 2012, and has limited security cooperation with the SCO. It cooperated strongly with the US from 2001 to 2004, tilted back towards Russia through 2005–07, but then sought to re-engage with the US, with recent dialogues on security, trade, human rights and regional cooperation (Lillis 2016; Swerdlow and Stroehlein 2015). Uzbekistan went through a successful leadership transition in late 2016. For a time, former President Karimov’s eldest daughter, Gulnara, had been a likely candidate for political succession. She had been involved in running NGOs, served as Uzbekistan’s deputy foreign minister and later on as the country’s representative at the UN and in Spain. However, her involvement in major corruption scandals, her ‘flamboyant lifestyle’ and a lack of connections to key organizations such as the Interior Ministry and the National Security Service led to her being dropped from favour from 2013 (Nourzhanov 2015; Lillis 2016; BTI 2016a). Instead, Shavkat Mirziyoyev (the former Prime Minster, handpicked by former President Karimov) circumvented the constitution with the backing of parliament to take over as acting president and then win elections with a sweeping majority (89 per cent of votes in his favour) in December 2016 (Grove 2016b). This was a peaceful transition, but one based on security and patronage networks, the state’s ability to undermine past opposition figures and an ideological agenda focused on stability, nationalism and gradual economic gains (Omelicheva 2016; BTI 2016a). Under the new leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan has improved relations with Russia, arranged new bilateral military exercises (the first held in October 2017), and enhanced cooperation on anti-terrorism and instability in Afghanistan. However, a

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rapid return to the CSTO framework remains unlikely in spite of Russian hopes in this direction (Ramani 2017; Daly 2017). Burdened by serious problems with Islamic militants and social dissent, most notably the Andijan uprising of May 2005 (with up to one thousand deaths), Uzbekistan has used its military and police in harsh political crackdowns throughout 1999–2016. The government has exaggerated its assessments of threat to ensure political control, including the banning of all Islamist movements and parties, control of all ‘uz’ media and internet sites, the use of informers, secret police and the courts to crush critical opposition groups, and, at least until recently, the use of torture (Freedom House 2017; Standish 2016a; Shishkin 2011; Nazarov 2004). It has token democratic institutions with no credible opposition, leading to the political dominance of President Islam Karimov from 1991 until his death in 2016. This was a consolidated, neo-patrimonial authoritarian system based on rent-seeking from national sources of wealth, cooptive patronage networks, and the control of the economy and the security apparatus (Lewis 2015; Omelicheva 2016). A smooth transition to the leadership of President Mirziyoyev opened up the possibility of limited domestic reform, including anti-corruption and economic liberalization policies. A more engaged foreign policy has emerged, including better relations with smaller Central Asian states, strengthened ties with Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, and an effort to raise the profile of the country in the West via stronger engagement with the OSCE and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). To continue, this requires an improved human rights record, with recent problems including the use of child and forced labour, the harassment and prosecution of journalists, politically motivated imprisonment, and the suppression of civil society organizations (Putz 2017a; Akromov 2017; Freedom House 2017). Furthermore, Uzbekistan remains challenged by ongoing illicit transnational flows, including drug imports, smuggling, financial movements in a partly ‘grey’ economy, ongoing high-level corruption, and the exodus of economic migrants across its borders (UNODC 2017; BTI 2016a; Zabransky et al. 2014; West 2010). Current reforms are beginning to improve national governance and ease Central Asian tensions, but have a long way to go to create the positive corridors of north–south and east–west connectivity that would give the country a sustained ‘bridging’ role in the Eurasian economy (see further below). In spite of continued economic growth, reported to be between 6.8 and 9.0 per cent during 2008–16 (DFAT 2017b), major concerns have been expressed about the political and economic health of the country. These concerns include government over-regulation of prices, banking and

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agricultural markets, subsidized but inefficient state enterprises (with a new round of privatization announced from 2016), and ongoing corruption that limits investment and competition in spite of a new 2017 anti-corruption strategy (Yeniseyev 2017; BTI 2016a; World Bank 2015). Scandals and corruption have been reported in large international agreements, for example bribes apparently taken by telecom providers and overseas companies from 2007, with Russian and Swedish firms involved, leading to the freezing of Swiss bank accounts and major investigations by US, Swedish and Dutch authorities (Verbergt and Gauthier-Villars 2016). Uzbekistan has been ranked as one of the most corrupt nations globally, coming in 156th out of 176 in Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index, but has improved its Ease of Doing Business 2017 rank in the World Bank Index to 87th out of 190, even though the Karimov regime had acted as ‘free rider’ on an exploited resource base (Transparency International 2017; World Bank 2017a; BTI 2016a). Doubts about the inclusiveness of economic growth in the country are re-enforced by the large number of Uzbeks abroad, with up to 1.9 million Uzbek citizens working in Russia during 2016 (dropping from 2015) and up to 4 million working abroad in Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, South Korea, UAE and Europe (Lewis 2015). The country lacks a coherent sustainability or environmental agenda, with an emphasis on extractive resource industries and water-intensive cotton yields, resulting in poor scores in Environmental Performance Indexes, for example 118th in the Yale University 2016 analysis (Hsu et al. 2016; Eurasianet 2012). These factors have meant that though Uzbekistan has tried ‘to present itself as a credible and reliable partner’, it has not been trusted ‘by most of the international community’ (BTI 2016a, p. 37). Uzbekistan has sought to improve some of these negative perceptions. It moderated tensions with Kazakhstan in 2013 by signing a ‘strategic partnership’ across trade, economic, transportation and cultural sectors, signalling a desire for converging foreign and security policies (Tolipov 2013a). Indeed, from late 2016 Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev pushed ahead to resolve remaining border issues, and by early 2017 signed numerous agreements to boost bilateral trade by at least $840 million above 2016 levels of about $2 billion (Putz 2017b; Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan 2017). There have also been efforts to deepen their strategic partnership by a joint declaration on Further Enhancement of Strategic Partnership and Strengthening GoodNeighborliness, and an agreement on International Road Transport, plus plans for high speed rail and new bus links (Putz 2017b). The improved relationship has had further diplomatic and practical benefits. Uzbekistan supported Kazakhstan as a non-permanent member of the UNSC

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for 2017–18, while in March 2017 talks were held by heads of law enforcement and anti-terrorism agencies to improve cooperation on shared non-traditional security threats. The agreement on Interregional Cooperation, Strategy of Economic Cooperation for 2017–2019 was also signed, designed to develop complementary aspects of the two economies (Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan 2017). Likewise, from 2011 Uzbekistan has also been promoting its own Uzbekistan–Turkmenistan–Iran–Oman land, rail and sea route that would link Central Asia onto the Persian Gulf, with this transport corridor being extended to Qatar and Kazakhstan (De Haas 2017; Parkhomchik et al. 2015). This north–south corridor would potentially link Central and West Asia into Middle Eastern trade flows, giving Uzbekistan a new vector of positive influence. Uzbekistan also sought to stabilize relations with Kyrgyzstan, signing a Declaration of Strategic Partnership in late 2017, finalized a historic demarcation of 1170 km (85 per cent) of their mutual border, and expressed a desire to increase bilateral trade, define border crossing points, and improve hydro-power and energy cooperation (Hashimova 2017; Eurasianet 2017). Though a step in the right direction, this does not solve the problem of ethnic enclaves of Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan and ongoing territorial anxieties, especially problematic in the light of the anti-Uzbek violence that occurred in Kyrgyzstan in 2010 and the fragmented cross-border network of roads and services across the Ferghana Valley (Megoran 2017; Goble 2017; Lewis 2015). Uzbekistan has presented itself as on the ‘front line’ in relation to spillover effects from Afghanistan and transnational threats including terrorism and Islamist ‘extremism’. This has been used to justify its authoritarian and securitized state structures and to gain international support from varying partners. It has also gradually edged towards a more regional approach in its foreign and security policies. Uzbekistan wants a peaceful political resolution of Afghanistan involving the Taliban, and hopes for further regional dialogue to manage spillover issues (Hashimova 2009). Uzbekistan remains a major energy provider to Afghanistan, has built a short rail link (the Hairatan–Mazar-i-Sharif line) into northern Afghanistan, plus new bridges and optical fibre networks, seeking economic gains while cautious of CSTO alignment (Lee and Rustamovich 2017; Mankoff 2013). Moreover, it has also sought an improved dialogue with NATO, moving towards a ‘constructive partnership’ dealing with WMD, drugs and terrorism (Daly 2015b). In turn, relations with the EU have gradually improved over a decade. EU sanctions on Uzbekistan were lifted during 2008–12, with Europe opting for an intensified dialogue with Uzbekistan on human rights

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issues from 2011 and a poverty reduction, healthcare and rural development strategy for 2014–20 (EEAS 2016a; Goldston 2011). As such, Uzbekistan can claim to be running a multi-vector foreign policy, but in the past used a problematic tilting strategy with major powers to maximize economic and indirect security gains (Markedonov 2012). This has been replaced by a more comprehensive engagement strategy under President Mirziyoyev, but it has yet to produce the desired ‘security belt’ that can insulate the country from regional instability (Hashimova 2017). For China, Uzbekistan’s limitations are less challenging than for Western partners. China signed a Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation and a Joint Declaration on Further Development and Deepening Bilateral Relations of Strategic Partnership in 2013, but it has taken some time to fulfil these expectations. China became Uzbekistan’s largest trading partner, slightly surpassing Russia, in 2016. This was largely due to expanded gas exports through the Central Asia–China Pipeline, along with increased investment in oil, gas and uranium sectors (Romanowski 2014). Uzbekistan sees itself as a natural player in the Silk Road Economic Belt project, but has a policy of diversifying partners to avoid relying too strongly on any one of them. However, in mid-2016 President Xi spoke of a new ‘strategic Chinese–Uzbekistan partnership’, with Chinese companies completing a $455 million railway tunnel aiding transport through the Ferghana Valley (Eurasianet 2016c). Following leadership talks in 2016, an agreement was signed to develop a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’, including new cooperative projects worth $6.3 billion, building on existing agreements that were already worth $20 billion in 2013 (Tolipov 2013b; Uzdaily.com 2016). The more regionally engaged approach of the current Uzbek leadership is likely to improve synergy with Chinese business and economic interests, but has not yet created the foundation for enhanced military cooperation. Indeed, Uzbekistan remains largely non-aligned and deeply suspicious of interventionist strategies within Eurasia as a whole. Moreover, it is possible that China and Uzbekistan have somewhat different political expectations of the SCO: For China, the SCO provides it with geopolitical leverage in the region as well as a platform for sending certain messages to the West. For Uzbekistan the SCO is not so much a multilateral forum, but rather another platform for Uzbek-Chinese bilateral engagement. Tashkent seems to construct its strategic ties with Beijing, directly or within the SCO, largely in the context of explicit and implicit balancing between three great powers – the U.S., Russia and China. (Tolipov 2013b)

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In reality, this deepening of bilateral relations has occurred at the same time as China has evolved a stronger regional approach embracing all the Central Asian states, explicitly linked at first to the Silk Road Economic Belt and then the wider BRI agenda (see Chapter 6). If Uzbekistan is willing to deepen relations with the PRC in accordance with its multivector balancing, then China sees these partnerships as part of a wider approach to regional problems by creating an alternative sphere of influence. The main point is that China’s long-term strategic interests in Central Asia go beyond energy and resources to embrace regional strategic interests: ‘China’s push into the region is not purely economic. It is an integrated geopolitical approach, combining “zhoubian zhengce” (periphery policy), “mulin zhengce” (good neighbouring policy), and “wending zhoubian” (stabilising the periphery).’ China considers the wider region as part of its ‘direct sphere of influence or “dingwei”’ (Nopens 2014). However, this ‘sphere of influence’ (dingwei) notion includes ‘the search for a place, the seeking of a proper role, or the undertaking of a process of negotiation to firm up one’s position, thereby enabling one to avoid potential conflicts in the future’ (Chan 2001, p. 52). Beijing is gradually shaping its role at both the bilateral and multilateral levels, realizing that it needs to move ahead of the ‘comfort zone’ of collective SCO decisions. However, this is challenging for Xi Jinping’s administration, since it places China in a leadership role within these partnerships. The related problems of the long-term normalization of Afghanistan and the ongoing wider pattern of non-traditional security challenges make ‘positive peace’ a distant goal for Eurasia as a whole.2

THE AFGHANISTAN DEBACLE The complex history of interventions in Afghanistan, and shifting US policies will not be addressed in detail in this section – suffice it to say that any external power intervening in Afghanistan, whether Britain, the Soviet Union or the United States, has found this an expensive and dangerous task. Furthermore, the early modernization of the state of Afghanistan was largely an abortive exercise due to its role as a frontline state first among great powers engaged in the 19th-century Great Game, and then again in the Cold War. Building a multi-ethnic state on national republican lines was thereafter constrained by the inability to harmonize nationalism, socialism and indigenous Islam (Nojumi 2002). Some positive benefits have accrued to the Republic of Afghanistan since 2001, including regular elections, some improvement in the status of women,

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modest gains in infrastructure, education and healthcare, better armed and trained security forces, and an enhanced voice in international affairs. However, these improvements are modest, and Afghanistan remains a war-torn state encumbered by widespread political violence, an ongoing Taliban insurgency, recent Islamic state incursions, government instability, corruption, religious militancy, and continued narcotics production. On this basis, the planned US and NATO withdrawal was moderated, with 16 000 training and ‘trip-wire’ personnel in place during 2016. Later plans were made for 11 000 US troops to be kept there in late 2017, to be further augmented by an additional 3900, while NATO as a whole agreed to raise the number of its ‘Resolute Support Mission’ force to circa 16 000 (NATO 2017; IISS 2017; Jones 2016b; Faizy 2016). Civilians killed reached a peak of 3701 in 2014, with only a slight drop in 2015 to 3535 but rising again in 2016, due to a resurgent Taliban and new IS operations (Munoz 2016; Crawford 2016; UN 2016). Casualties remained high in the first half of 2017, totalling 5243 civilians killed or injured, with increasing child and women casualties due to the Taliban’s intensified use of improvised explosive devices and casualties from extensive US and Afghan airstrikes. Since 2009, the UN has registered over 26 500 dead and 49 000 injured in this conflict (UNHR 2017; Rasmussen 2017; Bjelica and Ruttig 2017). Afghanistan is neither a successfully entrenched democracy nor a state that has secure control of its borders or territory, especially in rural areas, with 40–45 per cent of the country controlled or contested by the Taliban, IS, the Haqqani network and other dissident groups (Ali 2017). Afghanistan, in spite of decades of international military operations since 2001, $105 billion in humanitarian and reconstruction pledges down to 2012, and over $70 billion for security and military aid from the US through 2002–16, remains a source of instability for wider Central Asia (Lutz and Desai 2015; Dogan 2014; SIGAR 2017b). Even with ongoing US reductions in aid, global pledges of circa $15 billion were made in late 2016, with the United States still funding the build-up of the national defence and security forces at the level of $4 billion a year, NATO promising a $5 billion fund to support local forces to 2020, and the EU providing annual funding of around $1.5 billion – with 42 per cent of total funding going to defence (SIGAR 2017b; Ali 2017; Al Jazeera 2016). However, Afghanistan’s unrelenting crises have complicated regional cooperation and remain a huge security challenge for China’s Eurasian agendas. We can see this by exploring the limited traction of alternative Eurasian and regional approaches to Afghanistan, and China’s evolving role in these processes.

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Russia and the USSR have long seen Afghanistan as a crucial part of a southern security weakness that needed to be controlled indirectly (by ‘friendly’ socialist governments under the Brezhnev doctrine), managed directly (by the invasion of 1979), resisted (by support for the ‘Northern Alliance’ against the Taliban from 1996 on), or collectively addressed through the UN missions mandated from 2001 to 2002. Russia greatly aided the 2001 US invasion by providing transport routes, but was also a major backer and provider of weapons for Northern Alliance operations against the Taliban. Thereafter, Russia felt short-changed by the US and NATO takeover of affairs in Afghanistan, and has resisted any long-term presence of their forces at air bases in Central Asia (see Chapter 2). For the last decade Russia has relied on strengthened border control, the CSTO umbrella, special military relations with Tajikistan and to some degree Kyrgyzstan, and the development of its rapid deployment forces (both CSTO and Russian) as a means of locking down threats across these borders (Siddique 2016; Laruelle et al. 2013). Due to past experiences, Russia is extremely cautious of direct involvement in providing security for the Kabul government (the so-called ‘Afghan syndrome’), though it hopes to balance growing Chinese influence across the region (Siddique 2016; Nopens 2014; Lillis 2015). Although willing to engage in cooperation on selected issues, for example regional drug flows, Beijing has been focused more on containment rather than transformative strategies for Afghanistan – though its provision of limited military and economic aid to the government in 2016–17 seems indicative of a shift in policy. This shift on China’s part could be complicated by claims of Russia building stronger diplomatic links with the Taliban in support of a negotiated political settlement, though US charges of the supply of weapons to the Taliban have not been factually supported (Calamur 2017; Reuters 2016). Most Central Asian elites consider the Western intervention since 2001 as largely a failure, seeing Afghanistan’s limited governance capacity and lack of a political resolution with the Taliban as sources of long-term conflict with serious spillover outcomes (Laruelle et al. 2013). Today, due to intensified transnational flows (licit and illicit), Afghanistan is systemically engaged in a wider Central Asia security complex that has a serious impact on Eurasian and global affairs (Troitskiy 2015). The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan had run annual incursions into Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan from bases in Afghanistan from 1998 on, but was greatly weakened by US and NATO operations and by the deaths of their main leaders Juma Namangani, killed during 2002 in Afghanistan, and founder Tahir Yuldashev in a missile strike in Pakistan in 2009 (Clarke 2016b; West 2010). After 2002 Central Asian states viewed

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Islamic movements in their countries as having limited connection to Taliban groups. The rise of Islamic State was seen as a more internationalized security threat, though the IMU, the Islamic Jihad Union and related splinter groups remained operational in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan from 2014 and may have pledged alliance to IS (Daly 2017; McGregor 2015; ANS 2015). Put simply, Central Asian states are more concerned about instability in Afghanistan than a possible future political role for the Taliban. There has been a sustained focus on securing and controlling adjacent borders, but this is problematic due to difficult terrain, the enormous wealth generated by the drug trade, and extensive patterns of corruption (Mankoff 2013). Along with growing trade (legitimate as well as illicit) across transborder ethnic communities, engaging Tajik, Uzbek and Turkmen in Afghanistan, the different regional states take diverse approaches to conflict in the country (Laruelle et al. 2013). Although most of the central states support the idea of an inclusive political resolution to the conflict buffered by economic development, none are strong enough to lead an effective regional intervention (see further below). Tajikistan sees stability in Afghanistan as crucial for its own security, but also hopes to gain from future economic development, for example boosting electricity exports southward as its own hydro-power schemes come online (Laruelle et al. 2013). It has gained ongoing Russian and CSTO military and materiel support, economic cooperation from China (now lifted to the level of a ‘strategic partnership’) and indirect security via the SCO. It remains concerned over Islamic militancy (the IMU and more recently the Islamic Jihad Union) and narcotics operations flowing across Central Asia, with drug money shaping about 30 per cent of the national economy (Kucera 2014b; Mankoff 2013). Even with military upgrades, recent GDP growth (6–6.9 per cent in 2014–17) and authoritarian consolidation including the banning of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, it remains a non-inclusive society partly reliant on remittances from abroad. The long border with Afghanistan (1344 km long) remains relatively porous, with transit routes northward through the Rasht and Ferghana Valleys and then across Central Asia (HRW 2016; Eurasianet 2011a). Aside from Russian and CSTO support, border security has been enhanced through the Central Asian Border Security Initiative (CABSI), a process to build regional cooperation, and by a new border security plan being developed down to 2025, with the EU, UNDP and OSCE providing limited funds and training in spite of ongoing restrictions on human rights (Sobiri 2017; OSCE 2016; Nabiyeva 2011). Taken as a whole, Tajikistan remains hostage to an authoritarian and securitized political culture, still dealing with the legacies of its past civil

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war (1992–97) and a failed democratic transition. This is exacerbated by current insecurity in Afghanistan and the limited ability of China, Russia, the CSTO and the SCO to secure regional stability (see Chapter 2). Turkmenistan has been willing to strengthen its own borders but sees these issues as linked to deeper developmental problems in Afghanistan. Turkmenistan has openly traded gas, electricity and food to avoid border tensions, and has given Turkmen in northern Afghanistan health and educational aid, in addition to supporting irrigation renovation projects (Laruelle et al. 2013). It has accelerated agreements to implement the TAPI (Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India) pipeline, and supports a new $1 billion TUTAP (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan) power transmission project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to provide hydro-power and better energy access for Afghanistan. In late 2016 it opened up a new railway link and an oil storage terminal on the border, with major deals signed in mid-2017 to forge a new phase of transport and energy cooperation for 2018–19 (Omid 2017). Turkmenistan’s ‘permanent neutrality’ has acted as a partial shield to limit spillover effects from Afghanistan, since it is not a major ‘coalition’ target for the Taliban (Kohistani 2016; Mamedova 2015). However, from 2014 there have been increasing tensions with Taliban operating along their frontier with north-west Afghanistan, leading to border incidents and some Tajik guard deaths. Increased Taliban operations in nearby provinces and limited IS incursions continued in 2017, though the country is not a useful target for internationalized terrorist operations (Pannier 2017). Turkmenistan engaged in a limited military build-up during this period, with 36 500 troops, plus 36 combat capable aircraft, and upgraded border defence contingents, though levels of training and equipment are still relatively poor (Chipman et al. 2017; Dzardanova 2015). Russia has been pushing Turkmenistan to accept more Russian security cooperation but except for training and weapons’ purchases, this has not gone as far as Moscow would have wished. Despite an intensified security dialogue with Uzbekistan during 2015–17, and an upgraded ‘strategic partnership’ negotiated with Russia in October 2017 (dealing mainly with economic and non-traditional security issues), Turkmenistan’s permanent neutrality was still internationally recognized (NCA 2017; Pannier 2015 and 2016; Dzardanova 2015). Turkmenistan needs regional stability as part of a more active international role, including linkage onto the Silk Road Economic Belt: Turkmenistan now desires to be more active in regional and international cooperation projects, and is preparing to undertake an important mission as a

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bridge for trade and transit, in line with the re-construction of the modern Silk Road. In this scope, the country is rapidly developing its national highway and railway connections, and a bigger international airport that is likely to be a regional hub is being built in Ashgabat. (Colakoglu 2013)

Turkmenistan requires a more permissive and peaceful regional environment to continue its re-engagement with the international community and diversify its trade partners, trends that could be undermined if Afghanistan goes through continued turmoil. With the Taliban gradually increasing areas in which they are active, the limited response from the US and NATO has forced Turkmenistan to edge towards closer relations with Uzbekistan and Russia, while formally retaining its neutral stance. Kazakhstan, a major player in the CSTO, was willing to cooperate with the US and NATO on the transportation of non-lethal goods into Afghanistan via the Northern Distribution Network, and has provided some aid for reconstruction programmes (McDermott 2004 and 2010; Kucera 2010). It has increased its dialogue with Afghanistan on antiterrorism efforts, due to fears of further blow-back effects of militancy into wider Central Asia. Kazakhstan has also been active in boosting trade and investment in Afghanistan, with growing ties since 2014 and a new round of agreements for humanitarian aid, civil defence and cooperation in dealing with natural disasters (Daily Outlook 2015). Kazakhstan has been keen to see Afghanistan’s development placed in the context of the wider region. Alongside the SCO, Kazakhstan has been an active player in CICA (Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia) and in the ensuing Istanbul Process from 2011, where foreign ministers and senior officials seek peaceful support for reconstruction of Afghanistan as the ‘Heart of Asia’. This involves confidence-building measures and consultation among over 26 countries and 11 observers across the region and Asia, with a desire to return decision-making to these states rather than relying on external interventions. Though marred by an ambitious agenda and competition among member states, for example Indian tensions with Pakistan, the grouping has been given strong support from China even though its programme remains largely declaratory (Hindu 2016; Xinhua 2014b; Tiezzi 2014c; Kazemi 2013). India, perhaps surprisingly, has taken on a more nuanced and proactive role in relation to Afghanistan than most of the Central Asian states. India has an interest in electricity production, the energy sector, construction, and iron extraction, the last worth up to $420 billion in the long term, but needs further railway construction for exports to come on stream (Hurst and Mathers 2014). In October 2011 India and Afghanistan signed an

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Indo-Afghan Strategic Partnership agreement (MEA 2011) that went beyond mining and hydrocarbon agreements. India agreed to assist in the ‘training, equipping and capacity building programmes for Afghan national security forces’, suggesting a wide focus for future cooperation (Gupta 2011). Over $1.5 billion in aid had already been provided to Afghanistan, with India supporting the training of police, educational assistance and scholarship programmes, as well as health and agricultural cooperation, with a further commitment of another $1 billion made in late 2016. This strategic partnership demonstrates combined hard and soft power approaches, focused on regional capacity building and human security, for example the support for aviation parts and repairs to Afghanistan’s attack helicopters and transport aircraft from 2016 onwards (Gady 2017). The partnership sees Afghanistan emerging as a trade, transportation and energy hub connecting Central and South Asia, enabled by improved transport linkages (MEA 2011). It can be seen as an extension of the US’s New Silk Road Initiative (NSR – South) and the revised US Afghanistan policy of 2017, building on improved India–US relations, but can also be viewed as supporting the Istanbul Process (IISS 2017; Weitz 2015). In a UNSC debate in 2014 India made its strategic interests clear: India said it did not have the luxury of an ‘exit strategy’ in Afghanistan, underscoring its commitment to assist the war-torn nation as it called for an Afghan controlled-reconciliation process and rejected any effort to treat the government in Kabul on par with Taliban … . India stressed that the main threat to Afghanistan’s security and stability is terrorism emanating from ‘beyond Afghanistan’s borders’ that promotes terrorist activities against nations like India that have friendly relations with Afghanistan. (Free Press 2014)

This relationship has been part of Prime Minister Modi’s wider Connect Central Asia strategy: by engaging Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan as part of a new north–south hub it opens up trade and investment opportunities, provides strategic depth in relation to Pakistan, and engages a sphere of interests that could turn India into a Eurasian as well as an Indo-Pacific power (for limitations in this agenda, see Amirthan 2017). In turn, Afghanistan’s approach to India remains bounded by the India–Pakistan dilemma, and its own complex relations with Pakistan, leading to shifting and limited policy engagement since 2001 (Paliwal 2016). The fate of Afghanistan over the last forty years has provided serious lessons on the dangers of proxy wars, strategic buffers and ‘malign neglect’, lessons which some Eurasian powers have taken to heart. It is not surprising that China has adopted a gradualist approach toward

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Afghanistan, seeking both bilateral and multilateral approaches to help the country. Historically, the PRC saw Afghanistan as an important buffer between itself, the USSR and South Asia, and engaged in trade and boundary agreements, with a mutual non-aggression treaty signed in 1960. China rejected the Soviet intervention of 1979, avoided being embroiled in the civil wars of the 1990s and sought to avoid spillover effects into Xinjiang. Full diplomatic relations were re-established in late 2001, followed by the 2006 Treaty of China–Afghanistan Friendship, Cooperation, and Good Neighbourly Relations, with increased trade and investment flows over the following decade. More recently, Afghanistan has been seen as straddling China’s diplomatic circles of engagement, linking domestic stability in Xinjiang to peripheral-state relations across Eurasia and thereby affecting the PRC’s global-level relationships either positively or negatively (Clarke 2016b). China’s recent cooperation with Afghanistan has focused on economic and technical cooperation and support for infrastructure development, with future hopes of accessing more of the $1 trillion in mineral resources, including rare earth deposits, still largely untapped in the country (Hurst and Mathers 2014; Fernholz 2015). Major companies such as the Metallurgical Corporation of China, Jiangxi Copper Corporation and China National Petroleum Corporation have made major investments in the country (Wang 2016a). Although at first extractive in focus, China’s business operations recognize that Afghanistan is in desperate need of infrastructure, including new roads, transnational railways, power stations, electricity grids, improved water provision, and export routes out of the landlocked country. China has also been willing to provide increased social benefits and human services, such as schools, clinics and the creation of up to 5000 local jobs in the north-eastern province of Logar (Hurst and Mathers 2014). Afghanistan, if it stabilizes politically, offers China needed resources and important strategic linkages: Afghanistan’s central position allows China to link up with various infrastructure projects in the region, including the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan– Pakistan–India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline, the Central Asia–South Asia Electricity Transmission Project (CASA-1000) and the Asian Development Bank’s Afghan Ring Road Initiative. Fostering regional economic interdependency increases the attractiveness of China’s own Silk Road Economic Belt project, while prosperity will lead to stability in Afghanistan and surrounding polities. (Boh 2015)

Beyond this, the PRC sees Afghanistan’s stability as interlinked to the security needs of wider Central Asia and Xinjiang, with routes for Uighur

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militants trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan operating through the Wakhan Corridor and Tajikistan (Scobell et al. 2014; Panda 2014b; see Chapter 2). It has sought to limit the transnational operations of militant groups such as East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and its successor organization, the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), some of whom may have received training in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Having spent $250 million of humanitarian aid in 2001–13, with more than $330 million pledged down through 2014–18, Beijing has begun to offer non-lethal equipment and training to Afghan police and military (Clarke 2016a; Wang 2016a; Panda 2014b). China provides small levels of military aid to several Central Asian countries: initially $73 million to Afghanistan in 2016 (in the context of a dialogue on counter-terrorism), $16 million to Kyrgyzstan, the likelihood of increased aid flows to Tajikistan (at first for uniforms, accommodation and training), and potential arms sales to Turkmenistan (Tiezzi 2016; Partov 2016; Kucera 2014a and 2016c). Large-scale military exercises held in October 2016 between China and Tajikistan (involving 10 000 personnel), suggest that China is willing in future to be more proactively engaged in regional security. However, the PRC also needs to avoid undermining its noninterventionist and ‘win–win’ foreign policies that provide a permissive environment for increased Chinese influence across Eurasia (Partov 2016; Clarke 2016b). China has made some political progress in ensuring a better security environment for its growing engagement with Afghanistan. Since 2000 China has been willing to talk to the Taliban and thereafter maintained contact with leadership groups exiled in Pakistan, seeing the Taliban as a political factor in any long-term Afghanistan settlement and as a way to reduce spillover operations into Xinjiang, especially the training or support of Uighur separatists (Clarke 2016b). This track record gave the PRC an improved mediation role, with China hosting Afghan–Taliban talks in 2015, and receiving visits by Taliban officials in 2015 and 2016 (Clarke 2016a; Boh 2015). Beijing has thus created a cautious but real role in Afghanistan’s affairs: China also tries to act as mediator for talks over the peace process between the Taliban and the Afghan government, though it should be noted that China pursues an ‘Afghan-led and Afghan-owned’ peace process. China believes it is in a good position to undertake such mediation, because it has a relatively good political image in Afghanistan, as it consistently promotes Afghan-led and Afghan-owned policy, respects the country’s independence and sovereignty, and actively promotes political reconciliation there. Furthermore, China did not participate in the Afghan war that began in 2001, has not

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aroused the dislike of any political faction, and is relatively easily accepted by all. (Wang 2016a)

These initiatives gain some leverage when the Taliban seeks to secure greater international credibility as a political actor. The Taliban announced in November 2016 that it had given ‘the green light’ for China to re-open the huge Mes Aynak copper project. This claim was rejected by the Afghanistan government, which had a Ministry of the Interior unit guarding the mine (Amini 2016). The deal had previously been based on a 30-year, $3 billion leasing contract by China Metallurgical Group Corporation and Jiangxi Copper with the Karzai government. The project had initially been delayed due to security concerns and the need to build road and railway lines to export the product (Zhou 2017). Mining operations stalled in 2017, due to charges of corruption against the top Chinese manager involved (the executive Shen Heting, now expelled from the Chinese Communist Party), internal logistics problems, and concerns over the damage that would be caused to a major Buddhist walled city – an archaeological site that has yet to be adequately explored. As such, the problematic Aynak investment has been held up as a negative model for future BRI projects, undermined by the nexus of internal security issues and problems in corporate governance by both state-owned and private companies (Lo 2017c). China has also urged Pakistan to cooperate in multilateral talks with Afghanistan, but needs dialogue with several Taliban groups for a regional peace to evolve since the death of former leader Mullah Muhammed Omar (Clarke 2016b; Tiezzi 2016; Kucera 2014b). PRC, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan began a cautious multilateral dialogue on security issues, but the Pakistani government has been unable to end Taliban ‘safe havens’ on its own soil (Partov 2016; Clarke 2016a; Panda 2014b; Rahi 2014). China has proposed that a regional alliance against terrorism could evolve to contain extremist Uighur groups in Xinjiang, negotiate with the Taliban and resist IS penetration into Central Asia (Nasar and Hand 2016). New alignments began to emerge in 2017, but have yet to evolve into a genuine ‘crisis management mechanism’ that could positively engage India and possibly the United States in future (Escobar 2017). Indeed, the comments made by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in October 2017 suggest an effort to regain influence across Asia by closer alignment with India and by undercutting the Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI, in turn, was lambasted as an example of ‘predatory economics’. All this is indicative of increasing incompatibility between US and Chinese understandings of how regional stability should be achieved (Tamkin and Gramer 2017; Clarke 2016b).

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Thus China’s ‘constructive role’ in Afghanistan has remained a workin-progress since the signing of the 2006 Treaty of China–Afghanistan Friendship, Cooperation, and Good Neighbourly Relations, further upgraded by the Deepening Strategic and Cooperative Partnership of 2012, with this being one of the PRC’s high risk engagements within contemporary Eurasia, focused on a more proactive approach to regional security (Wang 2016b; Clarke 2016b; Feng and Huang 2014). If linkage to BRI projects is one answer to the region’s economic growth, then the security of such projects requires stability and security within Afghanistan. This is a condition which China, Russia, India, the Central Asian states and the SCO have been unable to guarantee individually or collectively. Until recently China has been perceived as somewhat a ‘free rider’, gaining access to energy and primary resources in Central Asia and Afghanistan, while avoiding heavy security commitments (Clarke 2016b). The policies of the US, EU, Russia, China, India and Central Asian states post-2014 have remained largely uncoordinated, uncertain and competitive. This is despite limited convergence via the UN, the Istanbul Process and the SCO. In turn, China has been faced by the dilemma of avoiding a collapse of the government of Afghanistan if unsupported by the ‘West’ economically and militarily, but not wanting the long-term entrenchment of US and NATO forces in the heart of Asia (Clarke 2016b). Trilateral dialogues among India, China and Pakistan, the 2016 meetings of China, Pakistan and Russia and the ‘four-country mechanism’ among the PRC, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan have yet to generate strong security initiatives (Stanzel 2016b; Shams 2016; Mankoff 2013; Weitz 2015). Likewise, the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (comprising Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the US) has had limited political impact in preparing a roadmap for peace talks, which remained abortive in the face of the Taliban’s extension of its territorial control (Chiu and Ferrie 2016; ABC 2016). Afghanistan’s role as an SCO observer (2012) and the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group (from 2005) provide channels of dialogue but the SCO has been unwilling to provide primary security roles or upgrade Afghanistan’s membership status, and has remained active mainly in coordinating regional anti-drug approaches (Stanzel 2016b; Tass 2015). In spite of these overlapping efforts, no Eurasian grouping has provided the necessary commitments and concrete ground-plan for peace in Afghanistan or for proactive regional security across wider Central Asia. Reasons for this inability to create a new ‘grand coalition’ to replace the West’s declining security role include the complex challenges facing Afghanistan and Central Asia and a lack of convergent narratives of

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regional empowerment. This poses a major challenge for China’s longterm goals of moving past a stable periphery policy towards the creation of a ‘China-centric Eurasian geo-economic system’ (Clarke 2016b, p. 564). Transnational terrorism, religious militancy and politically motivated insurgencies are only part of a deeper web of non-traditional security challenges that are imbedded in the 21st-century transformation of Eurasia.

NON-TRADITIONAL SECURITY THREATS BECOME THE NORM Non-traditional security (NTS) concerns have become central challenges to state and global security in the last forty years, paralleling the trend for the increased role of non-state actors and the relative decline of interstate wars during this period. Instead, conflicts are often intra-state (dealing with insurgencies or breakaway regions) or internationalized local conflicts whereby transnational support escalates and prolongs conflicts. Notable examples of this kind of nexus have been found in Chechnya and contemporary Iraq. In the 21st century, when wars occur between nations, they are often triggered by secondary groups or non-traditional threats, as occurred with the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan which was triggered by the Taliban support for Al Qaeda bases. The 2003 invasion of Iraq, putatively, was part of the global war on terror and was triggered by concerns over its possible production of WMD (chemical and nuclear), but has been more realistically linked to covert motives for control of its oil sector and the rebalancing of power relations in the Middle East (for failure of ‘just war’ claims in this case, see Iwanek 2010). Likewise, the rise of Islamic State began as a localized, religiously based insurgency, but soon filled governance ‘vacuums’ across rural Iraq and Syria, as well as recruiting and fomenting conflict across the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Europe. Beyond this, non-traditional security threats include poorly controlled transnational flows, gaps in energy and food security, environmental degradation and climate change, as well as persistent under-development that undermines human security. Ironically, these transnational security threats provide new grounds for great power cooperation, but also generate divergent views of how they should be resolved (Cui and Buzan 2016). For Eurasia, these issues take on a special prominence due to the opening up of Cold War borders by ‘newly’ independent states still adjusting to the post-Soviet realignment of governments, open trade flows, and re-emergence of ethnic tensions. These trends have led to

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trade, aid, employment and educational opportunities, but also to poorly regulated drug flows, arms smuggling, and money laundering in ‘grey’ economies. Refugees and non-documented labour have complicated both CIS and EEU agreements with a continued movement from poor regions into relatively richer economies, for example into Russia, Kazakhstan and even Uzbekistan from poorer Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Refugees from ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and along the Uzbekistan–Kyrgyzstan border challenge existing humanitarian capabilities. Other push factors include high demographic growth across much of Central Asia, youth poverty, and repression from authoritarian governments, combined with poor border control and organized crime as facilitators of illicit transport networks. Sizeable percentages of the working population of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have come to rely on access to work in foreign countries and sending back remittances that comprise a major component of GDP, up to 42 per cent for Tajikistan and approximately 30 per cent for Kyrgyzstan (Farchy 2016; BTI 2016b and 2016c). Opium, heroin and, more recently, methamphetamine production in Afghanistan fund networked crime, insurgent groups, and corrupt state agencies. The impact has become significant on adjacent countries, especially Tajikistan and southern Kyrgyzstan as key transit routes. The Taliban earns $100–125 million a year from drug flows, exported via Pakistan, Central Asia and Russia to global markets. Up to 95 per cent of Taliban funding is derived from drugs and opium production, with the Taliban controlling around 85 per cent of opium-growing areas in Afghanistan, with production peaking in 2014 and rising again in 2016 (UNODC 2016b and 2017). Different visions of how to reduce these flows, for example US/NATO initiatives versus Russia, CSTO and SCO efforts, have complicated UN frameworks to gain traction on these problems (Hornak 2015; Smith 2014; Lameh 2011). Paralleling this have been flows of illicit arms, first from earlier conflicts during the 1980s and 1990s (Afghanistan and former Yugoslavia), then small arms exported from Ukraine, Transnistria and Russia, plus resold or captured US equipment. Past concerns over flows of nuclear technology, materials and know-how out of the former Soviet zone shifted to apprehension over WMD proliferation focused on Syria, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea. Flows of new ideologies and religious activism have also increased after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in spite of the efforts of most authoritarian states to ban or control religious groups. Islam has to some extent filled national-identity gaps due to political exclusion and the democratic deficit in Central Asia, but also includes diverse modernizing,

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‘renaissance’ and Sufi elements alongside militant groups seeking to violently revise the international order (Muedini 2015; Seifert 2013). Transnational and international terrorist linkages remain the focus of Eurasian security agencies. Active networks operate across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia and Xinjiang, with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Islamic Jihad Union, the Turkestan Islamic Party, Islamic State (Daesh) and Hizb-ut-Tahrir being major challenges to Eurasian states and Western ideologies (Clarke 2016b; Hanif 2012). The revival of Orthodox Christianity in Russia, related to new expressions of nationalism and patriotism co-opted by Putin as a unifying force, has also deepened intercommunal tensions within the Russian Federation (Tatarstan and now Crimea). It has intensified cultural fractures across Eastern Europe and led to related debates on the status of independent Orthodox churches in Ukraine (Leustean 2017; Keenan 2013). The cross-impact of Western values and liberalization remains uneven, with alternative versions of modernization being likely for many central Eurasian states. Cross-border environmental problems have remained largely unabated. These include pollution in the Caspian Sea, Black Sea, Arctic and Barents Seas, the Sea of Japan, the Kola Peninsula (north-west Russia), the Russian Far East and across China’s borders with Russia and Kazakhstan (Gertcyk 2015; Lukin 2007). With the increased impact from global warming, much of Central Asia including the Aral Basin, parts of western China and even Russia face ongoing water shortages, soil damage and desertification (Hamidov et al. 2016; UNEP 2011). Changing climate dynamics may bring benefits to some – such as access to increasingly clear Arctic sea routes. Elsewhere climate change is likely to intensify rural poverty and create complex humanitarian disasters. This has been evident in negative health trends and emigration from Karakalpakstan in north-west Uzbekistan and the degradation of pastures in the Kalmyk region of Russia (Lazareva and Bananova 2015). Problematically, intensified economic development may increase the anthropomorphic load of such territories, a concern already expressed in relation to Xinjiang and to China’s new BRI projects, for example along the China–Mongolia–Russia corridor. China has now begun satellite monitoring of environmental impact along some of these routes but has a long way to go in turning sustainability policies into practice in these foreign projects (Liu 2016; NRSCC 2015; see further Chapter 6). In large measure, such factors may lead to negative outcomes for stressed areas in China, wider Central Asia and Russia, but are dependent on the degree of onset of climate change and the adaptation strategies used by these states, with the PRC being the most proactive at this stage.

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China has long been aware of the growing danger of non-traditional security threats and has been willing to enter into international agreements to help manage them. Drug control has been a long-term focus of modern China, which saw itself as a victim of ruthless exploitation of the opium trade from the 19th century onward, with continued 21st-century flows from Myanmar and Afghanistan as current challenges (UNODC 2017). In the prevailing period, NTS have been given prominence in China’s white papers on security, and led to a new emphasis on ‘military operations other than war’ (MOOTW) as part of the main PLA missions (State Council Information Office 2013 and 2015). China has entered into agreements on these issues via the Joint Declaration on Cooperation in the Field of Non-traditional Security Issues (2002) with ASEAN, recognizing that a wide range of transnational and transborder issues needed regional cooperation, followed by numerous defence delegations visiting Southeast Asia thereafter (Wong 2007). As part of this approach, China and ASEAN developed detailed methods to control transnational drug flows, with the ASEAN and China Cooperative Operations in Response to Dangerous Drugs (ACCORD) programmes running from 2000 and 2005. Beijing has been concerned over the increasingly serious nature of non-traditional security issues including trafficking in new drug types, ‘people-smuggling including trafficking in women and children, sea piracy, terrorism, arms-smuggling, money-laundering, international economic crime and cyber crime, which have become important factors of uncertainty affecting regional and international security and are posing new challenges to regional and international peace and stability’ (ASEAN 2002). These problems are featured prominently in the PRC’s 2017 policy paper, China’s Policies on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation, where Section VI focuses on disaster relief, counter-terrorism, combating transnational crime, cyber and maritime security as drivers for regional cooperation (State Council Information Office 2017). The PRC has become proactive in a range of NTS areas including food security, maritime surveillance and control of sea resources. The list grows when considering desertification across the north-west, a new phase in methamphetamine usage, religious extremism and organized crime. In Eurasia, China has found many of these issues to be intensified via transnational networks beyond its direct governance. The SCO itself, with its emphasis on the ‘three evils’ of terrorism, fundamentalism and separatism, can be seen as a reaction to non-traditional security threats with secondary soft-balancing roles for the organization (see Chapter 2). Weak states along China’s periphery have been regarded as exacerbating these NTS problems, with Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar and Mongolia being of particular concern. China, for its part,

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has been constrained in its responsiveness. This has been brought about by Beijing’s policy of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs and over-reliance on state-to-state relations that can only indirectly address root causes – or even exacerbate them: ‘in choosing to support the state as a means to ensure security, China runs the risk of alienating the societies within the state that see their governments as illegitimate and thereby contributing to its own insecurity’ (Reeves 2014a, p. 116). However, China’s increasing economic influence and growing trade dominance in nearby economies has given it a structural power that deeply affects societal and environmental security in these countries. In spite of efforts to remain on friendly, ‘win–win’ terms with neighbouring and developing states, the PRC’s demand for resources has at times led to extractive and unsustainable forms of investment that undermine positive relations and create new threat perceptions – such as China’s dominance of Mongolia’s economy (Reeves 2013). If regional security and shared outcomes for the BRI are to be sustained, Beijing will need to become more proactively involved in planning for both human and comprehensive security across the Eurasian heartland. A further shift toward regional and global system-maintaining policies may be needed, with China continuing to take up the widened security responsibilities of a great power (Cui and Buzan 2016). This will require further engagement of networks that support a multitrack approach to diplomacy and tap into societal trends, civil society organizations and NGOs. This has begun to some degree through the PRC’s growing reliance on semi-independent think thanks, its use of ‘track 1.5 and 2’ semi-formal groupings such as the Boao Forum for Asia, the Xiangshan Forum, and the Network of East Asian Think-Tanks (run via the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), and early efforts to build intellectual exchanges along the Silk Road Economic Belt (see Kai 2016b; Izimov 2015). However, an accepted vision of what China’s role should be across wider Central Asia and Eurasia has yet to emerge, leading to constraints in cooperation and limits to the PRC’s regional leadership.

COMPETING NARRATIVES OF EMPOWERMENT Cooperation can be built out of shared interests, norms and values, while power differentials support or undermine patterns of leadership or hegemony. As we have seen, within Eurasia we have a complex mix of unstable multipolarity and limited multilateralism that has not led to a clear pattern of leadership. Equally absent are mature and inclusive regional organizations, in spite of the recent evolution of the SCO and the

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EEU. Although shared problems, especially NTS challenges, have been identified across the region, there has been limited convergence and cooperation on how to resolve these issues. In such a situation, the ‘grand narratives’ that major nations engage as part of their historical identity shape their strategic cultures and place limits on cooperative mechanisms of ‘give-and-take’. For Eurasia, these national narratives have not generated convergent ‘grand strategies’ of action, and in some cases have created clashing agendas and competitive aspirations. China’s extended BRI strategy comes closest to laying the basis for linking several Eurasian regional processes, but as a work-in-progress it still faces difficulties. These include increasing resistance from India and the US, who have seen the Belt and Road Initiative as a form of ‘aid imperialism’ that breaches international norms and ignores India’s territorial concerns (Subbarao and Tieri 2017; see Chapter 6). ‘Grand narratives’ are explanatory mechanisms that help us understand new patterns of conflict and the role of rising powers by looking at long-term viewpoints of states in constructing their identities and interests, thereby constraining and enhancing particular trends in their foreign relations. The return of Russia as a global ‘post-imperial’ power, the rising influence of China, and India’s engagement in Eurasian affairs, involve sustained narratives interacting with the behaviour of governments, populations and civilizations. Such narratives permeate the news media and current affairs blogs, are commonly discussed in academic journals and scholastic books, and are used by political leaders as persuasion and propaganda (Trenin 2011a and 2011b; Miller 2011). In helping to shape a nation’s strategic and political culture, grand narratives, when employed under specific conditions, can be used to implement long-term policies. These emerge as ‘grand strategies’ for future action. ‘Grand strategies’, when fully developed, link societal, political, economic and military capabilities into programmes that empower states or organizations. They help justify actions to elites and domestic audiences, as well as outlining the possible and desirable. They operate in the medium and long term, and identify not just a goal but also related developmental strategies: Firstly, while grand strategy is also concerned with applying the means, it also crucially includes the development of the ‘means’ used. Strategy neglects the resources – the people, money and materiel – needed but grand strategy includes these as an integral part of its implementation – an important matter in this age of austerity. Secondly, grand strategy directs the full array of the instruments of national power, rather than like strategy focusing on a single type of instrument. A grand strategy directs all the national means, including

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diplomatic, informational, military and economic. More than simply wholeof-government, it’s whole-of-nation. (Layton 2012)

Grand strategy operates in peace as well as war and may be distinguished from foreign policy by its focus on security: it mobilizes a wide range of power types (hard, economic, soft) to achieve national goals. Grand narratives mobilize aspects of the past to suggest identities and roles for nations whereas a grand strategy provides the comprehensive means to achieve present and future goals. In the current period, both Russian and Chinese leaderships are mobilizing particular national narratives to support ambitious strategies that are reshaping Eurasian and global affairs. It has been argued that China does not yet have a single, integrated, global ‘grand strategy’, but rather a set of interlinked largescale strategies mobilized around pursuit of the ‘China Dream’ via the BRI, military modernization, maritime empowerment, and an enhanced global role (Stanzel et al. 2017; see further Ferguson and Dellios 2017). Russia, likewise, is seeking to reshape the Eurasian process as a means of retaining a role as a leading global power in a revised, multipolar world order, but remains largely reactive to events on its extended security periphery and to US policies (see Chapters 4 and 5). India, too, has been edging towards a more proactive role in wider Central Asia, though this is at best an implicit set of economic, diplomatic and security strategies that meet diverse national goals. The long-term drivers of Russian defence and foreign policies include the need to ensure the security of extended borders across Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe, leading to development of hard power capacities and political and diplomatic engagement in European and Asian affairs. As such, Russia as a ‘rebounding power’ has had to refocus its role as a Eurasian actor, shifting from its great power role in the 19th century, to a superpower in the 20th century (as the Soviet Union), then a return to a regional power seeking to use this as the base for global power credentials (Friedman 2012). It has needed to maintain influence and partial hard power balances with China, NATO and the EU via trade, dialogue and pre-emptive action (in Georgia, Ukraine, Syria) to assure itself of a strong voice in world affairs. The CSTO, SCO and EEU make its eastern engagement more successful and less conflict-prone than relations with the US and the West, but has created a need to balance and engage China more actively (see Chapter 4). A notable aspect of this has been President Putin’s desire to link the EEU and China’s BRI projects to ensure a win–win strategy for Eurasia’s two largest powers. Russia under Putin’s leadership has shown a willingness to use force to revise the international order if its security is undermined. This has been

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driven by fears of a new disorder in the global system due to ineffectual dialogue between the West and Russia, as well as changing power relations in Eurasia itself (Lewis 2015; Lo 2017a). Russia has seen the deployment of anti-missile systems in Europe, the expansion of NATO, past US invitations for Ukraine and Georgia to begin the process for NATO membership, and Western support for regime change in Ukraine as undermining its sphere of influence. Seizure of Crimea and pressure on the political settlement of eastern Ukraine indicate a willingness to revise the territorial status quo created in Europe since 1991, halting a ‘wider Europe’ agenda as a zone of expanding Western influence (Eyal 2014; Sakwa 2015). Russia desires to become the dominant security actor in Eurasia, gradually reducing the ability of the US and the EU as intervening strategic and economic powers. A range of policies have emerged from this goal, including consolidation of the CSTO, support for the tightening of Central Asian borders with Afghanistan, extra military support for Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and efforts to re-engage Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in 2015–17. This has been linked to renewed diplomatic, strategic and economic engagement at the global level: a power projection demonstration in Syria, renewed engagement with North Korea, China, Vietnam, India, Venezuela and Nicaragua, plus efforts to boost trade (and arms sales) with African states (Lukin and Zakharova 2017; Hellyer 2015). Controversy has raged over the level of influence of China’s strategic culture on modern policies, and even over whether contemporary China does have an explicit, unified grand strategy at all (Ferguson and Dellios 2017, pp. 201–22; Stanzel et al. 2017). In the Eurasian context, however, China has fluctuated between different visions of engagement that shape its security policies and international relations. China has gone through expansive (Tang and early Qing dynasties) and defensive phases (the later part of the Ming period, that is, the so-called ‘Great Wall’ mentality) in relation to influence in Eurasia. It has had the options of strengthening its borders (to control those within or without) or to expand influence into steppe regions across wider Central Asia. The security component of these options became more complex in the transformative period of the 1990s. At the least, the PRC had to delineate borders with new Central Asian states, remove outstanding territorial disputes, and begin to control transnational threats via expanding SCO roles (see above). It sought resource access and new markets, with alternative sources for oil and gas (Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and others), thereby supporting its Great Western Development project. This diversification allows it to reduce reliance on sea-based imports, avoiding the ‘Malacca

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dilemma’ whereby energy imports could be blockaded by the US and its allies in some future crisis (ONI 2015; Davis 2014). The merging of the Silk Road Economic Belt, the Maritime Silk Road, new corridors into Russia and potentially across the Arctic turns the Belt and Road Initiative into a de facto Eurasian grand strategy: infrastructure development, connectivity, trade, investment and related security requirements would make China the driver of Eurasian affairs without excessive reaction from the US (Clarke 2017; Fallon 2015). As noted by Nadège Rolland, the BRI fits many of the requirements of a grand strategy: A grand strategy reflects the vision that a state has for itself and for its desired position in the international system. It is meant to shape the international environment in a way that benefits the state’s long-term strategic objectives. It is a top-down approach, assumed to be sustained over a long period of time, and it seeks to mobilise and integrate all the available domestic resources and instruments of national power (not just military but also diplomatic, economic, financial, intellectual, cultural and political), in order to shape the international environment in ways that reflect the values of the state and serve its national interests. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched by Xi Jinping in late 2013, perfectly matches this description. It is a long-term endeavour (supposed to come to fruition in 2049 for the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China), which combines all the elements of China’s power and uses all its available advantages in order to produce a favourable outcome. (Rolland 2017, p. 5)

Eventually linking 68 countries across three continents, the BRI can be seen as an escape from the dominance of US-led economics (including the subsequently downsized Trans-Pacific Partnership), a way to avoid the Malacca Straits dilemma of naval containment by the US, a means to engage the EU and European states such as Germany, and allows a future shift into an information-based economy for the PRC (Escobar 2015c). With the expansion of cooperative Eurasian networks via the SCO (with new members India, Pakistan, and in future Iran), efforts from 2015 to integrate Silk Road Economic Belt and EEU corridors, and 2016 negotiations for a Continental Economic Partnership, China would be in a position to move towards quanqiu gongzhi, a form of global co-governance with multilateral, corporate and societal engagement (Chan 2008; Yu and Chen 2012). If successful, these overlapping strategies will continue to boost China’s Comprehensive National Power (CNP, zonghe guoli) across all measures, preparing for its role as a global power in a future multipolar order (Yan 2011).

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Much needs to be done, however, before BRI can bring about these transformations. Russian and European acceptance of growing Chinese economic influence is limited and Beijing’s relations with New Delhi remain fragile at best. When translated into strategic planning and military empowerment, tensions with Russia and the EU may re-emerge not only over relative power and degrees of leadership, but even over the type of multipolarity or multilateralism that should evolve in the future (see Chapter 4). Likewise, the West remains critical of the environmental and human costs in China’s developmental agenda and whether this will be replicated across the Eurasian landscape. Though China has moved to moderate these problems and counter international criticism, it needs to further engage proactively and manage its relations with the Russian Federation, the European Union and leading European states (see further Chapter 7). Only then will a shared and stable multilateral order have a chance of evolving for Eurasia over the next three decades.

NOTES 1. 2.

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For functional definitions of a middle power, based on foreign policy activism, along with the aspiration and the ability to influence regional agenda, see Carr (2014); Robertson (2017); Yilmaz (2017). ‘Positive Peace’ embraces the idea that the absence of war and violence is insufficient in assessing peace, which requires economic growth, good governance and societal well-being to ensure sustainable positive outcomes. In 2016, Afghanistan ranked among the lowest in the Global Peace Index, coming at 160th, just above the Central African Republic and Somalia. Uzbekistan ranked 109th, in the middle of Russian and Eurasian rankings as a whole (IEP 2016a).

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4. China and Russia: divergent visions of multipolarity Multipolarity embraces the idea of several poles of power shaping the international order, rather than a unipolar order led by a preponderant empire or superpower, or a bipolar system as found in the Cold War. Older multipolarity theories tend to be situated within political realism, alongside related ideas of hegemony and balance of power concepts (see further De Keersmaeker 2017). Multipolarity has often been viewed as inherently unstable and dangerous, with failures in balancing, bandwagoning and alliances leading to major wars, as found in the great power confrontations leading up to both the First and Second World Wars. Recent approaches to multipolarity have focused less on competing poles of power and see multilateral, cooperative mechanisms adding institutional structures that lessen direct conflict and diffuse power in an inter-polar world, a view becoming more prominent in both Chinese and European thinking (Zhao 2016). In future, multipolar power systems may run alongside multi-partner and multicultural networks that could eventually lead to a multi-order world linking diverse regional and global institutions (see Flockhart 2016). New dimensions of power, including economic inter-independence and soft power, have offered less conflict-prone configurations of empowerment, but rising states require a wide range of resources and capabilities to achieve national goals and popular aspirations. Likewise, transition points from one ‘polar’ formation to another are viewed as periods of both opportunity and danger, for example the perception of transition towards a new bipolar order sparking military conflict between the US and China in the current period (Mearsheimer 2015; De Keersmaeker 2017, p. 100; Ignat and Bujanca 2013; Hart and Jones 2010). Power transition theory, in particular, suggests that both rising powers and declining hegemons can be sources of assertiveness and aggression. Until recently the United States has retained primacy on the global stage, but this will not be sustained without continued effort due to counterbalancing by other states and their higher economic growth. This is indicative of an emerging period of contested primacy (Edelman 2010). In such a scenario, the ‘declining hegemon’ may be a source of 89

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instability, and at the least needs to actively reinforce its leading role. Some analysts suggest that by 2025 the US’s technological and strategic advantage will begin to decline, with the international system becoming multipolar unless the US takes action to remain ‘the indispensable nation’, perhaps via improved cooperation with India and Brazil (Gompert et al. 2016; Edelman 2010). In this perspective President Trump’s reversal of earlier US positions, including withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), possible renegotiation of NAFTA, and placing increased pressure on North Korea and Iran may be seen as generating strategic shocks designed to return initiative to the United States as the ‘indispensable’ nation, though others would see the long-run impact as reducing American influence globally (Kaine 2017; Wike et al. 2017). This basic description of multipolarity as an unstable inter-state system, however, has to be modified in the light of recent trends. Multipolar competition today is muted by the plethora of IGOs, regional organizations, non-state actors and complex interdependence created by economic and cultural globalization. In this setting, great power contests become more expensive and constrained, with strong states needing to engage in regime, norm and institutional building, rather than relying on unilateral capacities. As such, alliances and regional groupings may become poles of economic and structural power, even if they rely on a major state to push forward their agenda. Thus, rather than looking only at power based in Russia, China, India and the US as states, we also need to assess the networked power of the institutions they build or engage in, for example the CSTO, EEU, SCO and NATO (Vasilyeva and Lagutina 2016, pp. 88, 94). From this perspective Eurasia is already a regional multipolar system. This is due to the troubled and limited power projection of the US into wider Central Asia, problematic and incomplete interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and the lack of a formally established balance of power system among Eurasian and off-shore states. Thus, alongside Russia and China, the residual influence of the US and the differential engagement of India and the EU suggest the creation of an evolving Eurasian multipolar system that is not yet an ‘order’. It has yet to lead to a genuine ‘concert of powers’, or to a pluralist security community with the shared features of an ‘international society’ (see Pereira 2014). Much debate has occurred over the last decade as to whether US hegemony of the global system is ending, based on the decline of its relative power and the enhanced capacity of other states, IGOs and non-state actors. Concepts such as unipolar-plus, asymmetric multipolarity, layered great power management (with different levels of power

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across global and regional domains), multinodal, multiplex, G-Zero (with widely dispersed power among many actors) and multi-order systems have been used to capture aspects of this transition (Ferguson and Dellios 2017; Cui and Buzan 2016; Flockhart 2016; Bremmer and Roubini 2011; Womack 2010; Walton 2007). Regardless of the exact state of transition today, Russia and China at the least have expressed strong ideational support for, and aspirations towards, a multipolar order in general terms. This is now entrenched in their foreign and security policies, as well as their wider ideological and nationalist frameworks. Far from being empty rhetoric, this is part of a preparation for a future transition which is explored ideologically (via propaganda and soft power) and materially (via bilateral cooperation and multilateral institution building). Russian and Chinese visions of multipolarity, however, reveal serious differences that make coordination of a shared ‘Eurasian agenda’ complex, gradual and contested (Turner 2009). Russia uses multipolarity as a means to counter pressure from the US and to assert its historical claim to being an essential player in European, Eurasian and Asian affairs. On this basis, multipolarity is part of a zero-sum game played by contending states against the global hegemon, the US, and a way to influence and soft-balance China in Eurasian affairs. This polycentrism is as much about ‘great power management’ as it is about power-sharing (Makarychev and Morozov 2011; Lo 2015). China, however, prefers to see power-sharing on a multilateral basis, presented as a win–win mutuality with shared gains rather than as clashing poles of power. Indeed, official Chinese white papers, reports and media releases increasingly use the term ‘multilateralism’ (duobian zhuyi), with a stronger aspect of cooperation, rather than focusing on the competition implicit in the idea of ‘multipolarization’ (duojihua) (Ferguson and Dellios 2017, p. 191; Scott 2013). In the 2017 policy paper on AsiaPacific Cooperation, for example, ‘multilateral’ and ‘multilateralism’ are used 14 times, while multipolarity is mentioned only once in the context of regional and equal participation (State Council Information Office 2017). If applied beyond public diplomatic usage, this could emerge as a system-supporting multipolarity stabilized by multilateral dialogue, even if no rigid balance of power is established (Ferguson and Dellios 2017, pp. 186–92). However, such a Eurasian order would require acceptance by other regional powers and better negotiation of the mechanisms for shared development and agreed security outcomes. PRC-led multilateralism is still evolving, opposed by the US and often criticized by India, but aims for a low-conflict path towards a multipolar world system. This path, however, has numerous points at which China’s influence will be tested.

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It remains to be seen whether a pluralist multilateralism among many actors or a multipolar world order driven by a few great powers will be able to cope with the ‘hard’ challenges of the 21st century. Beyond the resolution of affairs in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, such an order will need to provide the systemic global goods normally associated with the fading liberal world order, now further challenged by the ‘rise of the rest’, climate change, globalization and global developmental needs (Nye 2017; Flockhart 2016; Kupchan 2012; Ikenberry 2011; Zakaria 2010).

CHINA’S SHIFT TO DYNAMIC MULTILATERALISM Modern China has long been aware of the dangers of a competitive great power system in which it was overshadowed by a number of stronger states (European powers and then Japan in the 19th and mid-20th centuries), followed by the bipolar Cold War period in which it had to deal with two superpowers claiming hegemonic status, the US and the Soviet Union. China was willing as needed to tilt towards one or the other of these states, but saw this as the most likely period for a major Asian war or even a nuclear confrontation, either with the Soviets along the PRC’s northern and western borders, or with the US over the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan. Indeed, even for Deng Xiaoping, China’s domestic reforms needed a stable international setting best characterized by a return to a multipolar system which included a balance of power among several centres, with China itself never seeking hegemony (Clarke 2016b; Deng 1984 and 1985). PRC doctrine came to criticize the concept of hegemony on both ethical and political grounds, and rejected the goal of becoming a superpower. Xi Jinping, in line with CCP thought, has repeatedly rejected hegemony, power politics and neo-interventionism in his speeches, conforming to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and the overriding logic of non-intervention in foreign affairs (Xi 2014c; Yan and Huang 2011). This trend remains true even as China’s power is increasingly emphasized via the China Dream and the idea of ‘striving for achievement’ to give China a stronger role in world affairs as a civilizing agency (McCahill 2017; Yan 2014; Kawashima 2011). China’s growing aspirations were emphasized in Xi Jinping’s opening report to the party’s 19th National Congress in October 2017, with the promise that China would become a modernized, socialist and innovation-driven country by 2035 and a ‘strong power’ with a world-class military by mid-century (Xinhua 2017c; Ide 2017). These programmes are not presented as an agenda for global hegemony, but as part of the desire to seek improved and balanced relationships with the US, other great

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powers, and neighbouring states. As stated by the Chinese State Councillor (and Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Leading Group), this is within the wider ‘global network of partnerships’ based on a ‘multilateral platform’ (Yang 2017). However, questions remain as to how China can ensure its own security, its need for continued economic growth in coming decades, and balanced development during a period of global turbulence. Rather than relying on unilateral power enhancement, China has begun building a cooperative and multilateral agenda over the last three decades, with the view that multipolarity is already underway and that solutions will only be found in ‘cooperative, collective and common security’ (Xi 2014b). PRC’s 2015 defence white paper, China’s Military Strategy, outlined these concerns: Profound changes are taking place in the international situation, as manifested in the historic changes in the balance of power, global governance structure, Asia-Pacific geostrategic landscape, and international competition in the economic, scientific and technological, and military fields. The forces for world peace are on the rise, so are the factors against war. In the foreseeable future, a world war is unlikely, and the international situation is expected to remain generally peaceful. There are, however, new threats from hegemonism, power politics and neo-interventionism. International competition for the redistribution of power, rights and interests is tending to intensify. Terrorist activities are growing increasingly worrisome. Hotspot issues, such as ethnic, religious, border and territorial disputes, are complex and volatile. Small-scale wars, conflicts and crises are recurrent in some regions. Therefore, the world still faces both immediate and potential threats of local wars. (State Council Information Office 2015)

China’s perceptions of multipolarity, therefore, are crucial in assessing how China interacts with other great powers, globally and in the Eurasian setting. China has been preparing for a world of ‘structural multipolarity’ since the late 1980s, but now sees multipolarity as an important way of reducing the prospect of a head-on bipolar contest with the US by engaging a range of partners in order-building, going beyond either bipolar or tripolar order aspirations (Ferguson and Dellios 2017, pp. 187– 92, contra Lo 2017a and Kaine 2017). Furthermore, Beijing recognizes that continued asymmetry and diverse power levels even in a multipolar system can generate different perceptions of risk, threat and vulnerability, leading to new cycles of conflict (Yan 2006; Womack 2004). Power diffusion may result in different poles of unequal power even as the US goes into comparative (rather than absolute) decline in its ability to shape the international order. Hence Chinese scholars first envisaged a threeand then a five-pole world in which the US, China, Russia, Europe and

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Japan would be major players, but with the US still having a pre-eminent role. This led to the formulation of ‘one superpower and several big powers’, but raised critical questions about the autonomy of secondary states (Womack 2004; Yan 2006). Furthermore, the qualitative relationships among these great powers, including their history, interests and aspirations, are just as important as their empirical levels of power. A strengthened China is no longer a mere ‘role-taker’ in the global system (Wang 2015), but has entered a more active phase of building its own complementary organizations and processes (for example the SCO, AIIB and the BRI). It is also trying to reshape global affairs through its idea of ‘new great power relations’ that would accommodate its enhanced power (see further Chapter 8). This is as much based on the particular content of individual relationships at the state and societal levels, and is not reliant on a simple enforcement of hierarchy or rigid international norms. Thus, stronger powers still have to carefully manage relations with weaker states as well as the network of relations that stabilize a multipolar system: The basic formulation of asymmetry theory has been in terms of bilateral relations, but the global concerns of multipolarity require an extension of asymmetry theory from individual relations to structures of relations. The picture of the world order that emerges from asymmetry theory is that of a matrix of countries of various capacities that is relatively stable overall, but one that is composed of individual relations of relative strength and relative vulnerability that can create tensions and misunderstandings. Here ‘world order’ does not mean subordination of all countries to either a global organization or to a hegemon, but rather a robust expectation of most states most of the time that the international playing field – as uneven as it is – will persist. (Womack 2004, p. 362)

In the context of Eurasia, China has antagonistic relations with a major US ally (Japan), competitive relations with a rising power (India), and a complex ‘soft alignment’ with a rebounding power (Russia). As we shall see, this last relationship is complicated by differing strategic goals, contrasting views of how a multipolar world should evolve, and persistent threat perceptions based on China’s growing power (see further below). Furthermore, China can be viewed as an Asian regional power, a multi-regional power (interacting now across Eurasia and the IndoPacific), and an interregional actor developing strong links with Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, all leading to its current role as a global power (Harris and Arias 2016; Womack 2010). It is precisely in this light that we can see why China has such a strong commitment to the SCO and BRICS groupings, has been engaged in APEC and the East

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Asia Summit (EAS) and has tried to manage cooperative relations with ASEAN and the African Union. If the PRC’s relations with ASEAN have somewhat soured with the impact of the US pivot on ASEAN and the ASEAN Regional Forum since 2009, this has led to balancing overtures towards the Philippines and Indonesia to reduce these tensions in 2015–17, with BRI presented as a vehicle for enhanced cooperation with Southeast Asia as a whole. China’s use of multipolarity tries to step outside the tragic conflict mandated by power transition theories: Power transition theory argues that a rising power will necessarily challenge the existing power. However, this theory misses an important part of contemporary international relations, namely, complex interdependence in the era of globalisation. Sino American relations are especially complicated as the two powers compete in some areas but cooperate in many others. China understands this sophistication. Deviating from the predictions of power transition theory, China is trying not to confront the United States directly while seeking opportunities for cooperation with other states. Contested multilateralism is one option for its power expansion in this era of globalisation and interdependence. In existing multilateral institutions, China tries to increase its influence through adaptation and diversion. Usually, this is difficult due to power resistance and path dependence, as exemplified by its difficult experience in the reform of power structure within the World Bank and IMF. (Song 2016, p. 163)

As we have seen, Chinese official discourse increasingly prefers to use the term ‘multilateral’ (duobian zhuyi) rather than ‘multipolar’ (duojihua), thereby underplaying competitive power aspects in favour of win–win diplomacy (shuangying waijiao) and harmonious world agenda even as China becomes more involved in international institutions (Scott 2013; Dellios and Ferguson 2013; Easley 2008). Rather than focusing on a contest of power, recent Chinese viewpoints are increasingly linking multipolarity and multilateralism, seeing the UN, regional multilateral forums and verification mechanisms as a means to reduce chaos and turbulence (luan) in the emerging multipolar system (Scott 2012, pp. 40– 46). Thus the benefits of multipolarity, multilateralism and multilateral organizations, including the UN, SCO, BRICS and APEC, were emphasized in the Chinese communiqué of the 14th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, India and PRC (MOFA 2016). Chinese government-related media outlets such as Xinhua, China Daily, Global Times, People’s Daily and Beijing Review regularly run features on the benefits of multilateralism as a means to achieve a just global order for all countries, developed and developing. The G20, for example, is seen as a mechanism that could lead to ‘the new equilibrium

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of an organized multipolarity’, while multilateralism has also been used to promote shared but independent foreign policy perspectives, for example with France, Germany and the EU (Gosset 2016; see further Xinhua 2014a and 2016d; Scott 2013). However, China has also come to recognize that to meet the challenges of a multipolar world a ‘new type of international relations’ needs to evolve. Based on win–win relations that can build a shared future, Foreign Minister Wang Yi in 2016 argued that China’s network of over 80 key relationships and dialogues (bilateral and multilateral) was the beginning of an inclusive economic and security order that could evolve into a community of shared interests. Beyond general principles, Wang Yi argued that China has supported this vision by building a ‘peacekeeping standby force’ of 8000 soldiers, permanent peacekeeping police units, and by the PLA Navy’s escort support for over 6000 Chinese and foreign vessels off the Somali coast or through the Gulf of Aden, as well as promoting the Tai Hu World Cultural Forum and the proposed Asia Civilization Dialogue Conference (Wang 2016b). This suggests the beginnings of a multitrack diplomacy using both soft and hard power assets to shape relations at both the formal and informal levels. China’s policies on these issues have moved well beyond ‘great power management concepts’ towards trying to broker new models of relationship, especially with the US. Negotiations via bilateral meetings with the Obama administration from 2013 were delicate and their outcome not always assured, but they did lead to some gains in climate diplomacy and renewable energy cooperation in the following US–China Strategic and Economic Dialogues. Xi Jinping, under the rubric of a ‘new type of great power relations’ had hoped to gain respect for China’s ‘core interests’ and re-gear the relationship along major axes of no confrontation, mutual respect, and mutually beneficial relations abandoning the zero-sum game mentality (Li and Xu 2014). However, building real ‘strategic trust’, deep agreements on cyber security, and a recognized role for both countries in the Asia-Pacific proved difficult to sustain in the period 2013–17, leading to limited military cooperation (Office of the Secretary of Defense 2017; Xie 2015b; DoS 2014 and 2015). It was not certain that the US and China were on the ‘same page’, let alone sharing the same dream, since Washington remained cynical as to Beijing’s intentions and has since moved to reinforce its alliance networks and capacities in the Asia-Pacific (Office of the Secretary of Defense 2017; Li and Xu 2014). This confrontational trend was only partly moderated from April 2017 through the summit meeting of Presidents Xi and Trump and the follow-on comprehensive dialogues designed to address economic, diplomatic and security issues (Heatley

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2017). President Trump’s mix of aggressive and isolationist rhetoric from early 2017 ran the risk of undermining confidence in the US regionally, at least in the short term. In contrast, China was slowly building what could be described as a ‘pan-Asian’ order, even if Japan remained opposed to its leadership and India was only selectively engaging in this agenda. Part of this strategy was the slow transition of governance in existing global and regional institutions. For example, the 2010 reform of the IMF to enlarge its resources and to allow increased voting rights for the PRC and other rising powers has had a slow track, with the initiative only being approved by the US Congress in December 2015 (Chen 2016b). The building of alternative organizations and projects, including the AIIB, BRI, CICA, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and even the SCO itself can be seen as a hedge against existing limitations and reform failures in Western-created institutions, though China remains active in the World Bank, IMF and ADB (Feigenbaum 2017). The evidence thus far suggests that China has been unable to fulfil its aim of regulating and de-conflicting its multipolar relationships, indicating one area where a moderated multilateralism has yet to evolve. At best, a loose footprint of multilateral cooperation has been generated among the second-tier and rising states via BRICS and SCO channels. Likewise, China has sought to forge a ‘new type of great power relations’, but this has only touched China–Russia relations and has not gained substantial traction with the US (see further Chapter 5). In spite of claims by former Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi that multipolarity and economic globalization will lead to a relatively balanced global order (in Yu 2010), the real challenge for China is to forge a dynamic, functional and interdependent multilateralism that helps it manage its global and Eurasian dilemmas. Here, China’s options are better placed in engaging the EU and European states, via BRI investment as well as by annual dialogue on a range of issues including climate change, energy security, maritime piracy, international migration, human rights and cyber security. The EU collectively is China’s largest trading partner and a major destination for investment, while the PRC ranks as the second largest trading partner after the US, giving substantial meaning to their ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ and annual EU–China High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue (see Chapter 7). This remains a complex process in which the European Union holds strong expectations of ongoing reform by Chinese institutions, but the EU has gradually shifted to a consultative rather than a ‘conditional engagement’ approach (Zhou 2016; EC 2016c).

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RUSSIA’S DREAM OF A MULTIPOLAR WORLD ORDER Russia has a long history of operating amid competing centres of influence, whether finding its place as a ‘great power’ in the European state system of the 17th to the 19th centuries, or its long struggle with adjacent Ottoman, Persian, Chinese, Japanese and Austro-Hungarian empires. In the 21st century Russia can be seen as a rebounding Eurasian power which wishes to establish itself as the pre-eminent arbiter of security affairs from Ukraine to Vladivostok. Moreover, President Putin has rejected the idea of Russia as merely a regional power and sought to enhance Russia’s voice across ‘Greater Eurasia’ and in global affairs.1 Increasingly, Russian official statements and think tanks speak of an emerging multipolar order in which the Russian Federation can play an essential role (see further below). This has been linked to support for the UNSC, international law and respect for state sovereignty as key components of such an order, though Russian national security policies also claim the right to protect Russian nationals and interests abroad (Russian Federation 2016, Sections II.20 and III.24–26; Russian Federation 2015, Sections II.8 and 17; IV.44 and 47). However, the kind of multipolarity increasingly embraced by Russia is not the same as either an egalitarian multilateralism (with wide power diffusion across cooperating nations) or a cosmopolitan polycentric order embracing non-state actors and globalization, even though that last term is increasingly used in Russian analysis (Lo 2015, p. 44; Makarychev and Viatcheslav 2011). Rather, it seeks to engage rising powers and regional groupings to broker a revised hierarchical order in which Russia will have a key role in Eurasian and world affairs. Although Russia in the early 1990s went through a Western-oriented phase, based on its need to re-engage in the global order (via the G8 and Council of Europe) and the dominant capitalist economies, from 1996 Russia’s foreign minister Yevgeni Primakov sought to use the ambitious strategy of multipolarity (mnogopolyarnost) to reduce the unilateral power of the United States (Piet 2016). The ‘Primakov Doctrine’ was an idea based on the mutual rise of Russia, India and China (RIC) to offset US influence. The strategic triangle never became strong due to China– India tensions and the relative weakness of Russia in the 1990s, but would find partial realization through the later BRICS grouping (see below). Russia was keen to dilute US influence in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, giving the Kremlin increased global influence (Simha 2015). Although Primakov would have limited influence on

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Russian government after 1999, some of these ideas found their way into Russian foreign policy as approved by Putin thereafter. Thus, in the early 2000 Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, it was mandated that ‘Russia shall seek to achieve a multi-polar system of international relations that really reflects the diversity of the modern world with its great variety of interests’ (Section II), though elsewhere the document spoke of multilateral cooperation for a ‘new world order’ (Putin 2000). This focus on the emergence of a multipolar international system is found in recent foreign policy and security concepts, with an emphasis on practical and functional patterns of multilateral cooperation (Russian Federation 2015 and 2016). Russia periodically moved from a competitive multipolar vision towards a more cooperative engagement with the US and Western-led institutions. For a time after 2001 Putin hoped to become an ‘indispensable ally’ of the US, and leading foreign policy experts and practitioners expressed concern about the real dangers and costs of multipolarity (Lynch 2011, p. 103). This phase of enhanced cooperation would prove a disappointment to Russia, with the growing suspicion that Russian interests were being bypassed in Afghanistan, Iraq, by NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, and even via the liberal-democratic focus of the OSCE. By 2003 Putin returned to multipolarity as a cornerstone of his foreign policy and a means to gain support from countries as diverse as France and China (Lynch 2011, p. 108). France, for its part, had its own long-term engagement with multipolarity, seeing itself as a great European power with a claim to global influence. This policy was partly actualized by De Gaulle’s recognition of China, the desire to see an end to dominance of the ‘Anglosphere’, and its calibrated approach to both NATO and European defence policies. By 2007, President Putin was arguing at the Munich Conference on Security Policy that a unipolar model was insecure, unacceptable and ‘impossible’ in the current period (Putin 2007; Schmiegelow and Schmiegelow 2009). Indeed, Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 could be interpreted as not only contesting NATO expansion but also as a rejection of the unipolar world ‘order’ – a view made explicit by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in several speeches, including an address to the UN General Assembly (Lavrov 2008; Makarychev and Viatcheslav 2011). There were brief efforts to re-engage with the ‘trans-Atlantic’ multilateral order. For example, under President Medvedev the 2009 ‘reset’ allowed for some progress on nuclear arms reductions and initial negotiations on a new European Security Treaty, but this could not be sustained. Thereafter, Moscow moved towards a mix of Eurasianism, great power balancing and multipolarity approaches that allowed it to

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become proactive in a number of areas where it saw Western policies as wanting or dangerous. Thus Russia took the initiative in relation to Georgia (2008), Ukraine (from 2013) and Syria (from 2015) as part of a wider effort to entrench its importance in global affairs. Putin needed to ensure that Russia would not become a mere periphery to Western and Chinese interests in a rapidly evolving global economy (Lynch 2011, p. 131). For Russia, one of the main ways to ensure this was to enact its vision of multipolarity. There are, however, several different versions of multipolarity that have run in parallel across Russian foreign policy and security thinking. These include balance of power models, great power management approaches, and tripolar models in which Russia remains a central power, augmented by interregional agenda and multi-civilizational claims in which Russia can claim a special place (Makarychev and Viatcheslav 2011; Lo 2017a). Rather than an open multilateral approach, competition among Russia, the West and China may move this multipolarity towards a modified version of Hedley Bull’s ‘great power management’ (GPM) whereby the desire for stability generates a system of states and institutions that privileges order over justice, but with limited legitimacy beyond this (Makarychev 2013; Makarychev and Viatcheslav 2011; Bull 2012, p. 112). In this viewpoint, no single state, whether France (historically), the US (today) or China (in the future) should be allowed management of the global system by assuming ‘disproportionate’ power (Lo 2015, p. 42). Indeed, from this point of view, the Georgian War was a symptom of a disconnected power system (Russia versus NATO) that was in effect a case of great power ‘mismanagement’ (see Astrov 2011). Putin, however, is also aware that emerging multipolarity is not a club of equal powers but an asymmetric order, with shifting dynamics and new crises that may help or undermine global stability (Lo 2017a). The rise of China may indeed shift the global centre of gravity away from the US’s Euro-Atlantic order, but an overly strong China could result in a lopsided tripolar world where Washington and Beijing dominate, with Russia being a weaker, subsumed or sidelined pole – a view expressed by John Mearsheimer at the Valdai Club in early 2017 (Valdai Club 2017; Lo 2015 and 2017a). Indeed, to maintain its independent role, Russia has to sustain itself as a major, diversified power with a reach beyond its Eurasia sphere of influence (see further Chapter 5). This includes vigorous operations in Syria (2015–17) and re-engagement with Middle East processes (at first through Egypt and Iran), renewing contacts with Vietnam, India and ASEAN, as well as some attempt to boost trade and investment in Latin America and Africa.

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At the very least, a multipolar system has to foster alternative centres of power that have not been assimilated into global institutions and values dominated by a hegemon’s alliance system (Makarychev and Viatcheslav 2011). Today’s poles are not just states (even when superpowers or great powers), but rather states leading or mobilizing alliances or alignment groups linked to IGOs, regional organizations and civil society or audience networks. This provides a matrix of capabilities and norms that project power and influence in new ways. The Eurasian Economic Union provides a fitting example. President Putin has regarded it not merely as an economic space for its existing members, but also as a platform that can influence others by free trade agreements (for example with Egypt and Vietnam), thus becoming a new pole in the global order. Suggestions have been made that even Turkey and India could be interested in engaging EEU frameworks, even if this would not lead to full membership (Koru and Kaymaz 2016; Vasilyeva and Lagutina 2016, p. 88). Russia has been increasingly willing to engage ‘regional orders’ and spheres of responsibility in its policies, giving increased emphasis for groupings that it supports (CSTO, EEU, SCO, BRICS, the UNSC, UNESCO), while criticizing NATO and seeking to modify diplomatic networks such as the OSCE (Makarychev and Viatcheslav 2011). Although criticisms can be made of the relative weaknesses of Russian driven organizations (the CSTO and the EEU) and of Russia’s lacklustre role in the G20, this approach is sound in augmenting Russian influence in a non-threatening way that is not subject to easy intervention by the US. Likewise, Russia has been actively promoting the role of the BRICS grouping as a partial alternative to Western dominated institutions and as the basis of an evolving multipolar order. Though BRICS has been criticized as an informal group with no legal standing, this misses the main point of many diplomatic alignments. The G7, G8 and at first the G20 (as a Summit process) were self-selecting groups. They were not based on treaty relations, nor were they first established as rule-based IGOs. Far from being a disadvantage, these ‘negative’ attributes had enhanced their flexibility and influence, with the G20 soon becoming entrenched as a mechanism of global governance with clear roles in relation to the IMF and the global economy. The BRICS grouping itself experienced a slow start, evolving from a club of perceived rising economies into a group of ‘rising powers’ in the international system. For Russia, the BRICS was seen as a vehicle for key objectives that paralleled Russia’s interests. As noted by Vadim Lukov (the Russian ambassador often involved with the BRICS process), these included reform of the global financial system, followed by ‘strengthening the

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central role of the UN Security Council in the international system, making maximum use of the complementary nature of the member states’ economies in order to accelerate economic development, and modernising the social sphere and economic life of those countries’ (Lukin 2016, p. 106). Furthermore, the BRICS members themselves can help drive policy reform as one of the main cores within the G20, and often hold informal meetings on the ‘sidelines’ of the larger G20 group (Lukov 2016). Criticized as an uneasy club with diverse interests, BRICS has since promoted enhanced cooperation in reducing reliance on US currency and a greater role in global economic governance. It launched a development bank and a contingency reserve financing arrangement, created its own security dialogue and foreign policy dialogues (via meetings of National Security Advisors and Foreign Ministers), established its own virtual secretariat, holds over 15 ministerial-level meetings each year, and supports numerous committees and working groups (BRICS 2017; Stuenkel 2013 and 2016a; Gabuev 2015; Paniev 2013). BRICS meetings have at times been extended by inviting guest delegates, for example from Africa (in 2013), or by running them alongside other regional meetings including the SCO (in 2015) and the Outreach Summit with the south and southeast Asian BIMSTEC group (in 2016), thereby creating a larger ‘diplomatic footprint’.2 In the BRICS–BIMSTEC October 2016 meeting the Goa Declaration asserted their ‘influential voice on the global stage’, the need to transition ‘to a more just, equitable and democratic multi-polar international order’ and rejected ‘unilateral coercive measures’, themes reiterated in the 2017 Xiamen Declaration (BRICS 2016 and 2017). Thus, BRICS is not an entirely closed club, with countries such as Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey seen as prospective rising powers, potentially creating a wider BRICSAMIT network of unequal powers. At the least, the G20 and the BRICS group are symptoms of partial power diffusion towards a widely based multipolar order, thereby helping Russia in its preferred global normative transformation (Sergunin 2015; Krozer 2015). For a range of Russian geopolitical thinkers, including Alexander Lukin and Fyodor Lukyanov, Eurasianism under conditions of globalization has to embrace the rationale of a developed multipolar order in which neither the US nor China would have too much influence (Lukin 2015b and 2016; Vasilyeva and Lagutina 2016, pp. 98, 140). More extreme positions are taken by Alexander Dugin, arguing for a radical, anti-hegemonic Eurasianism that would see Russia as a continental ‘heartland’ engaged in long-term conflict with Western Atlanticism, a competition driven by geopolitics, values and ideology. In this role,

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Russia emerges as ‘one of the columns of the world’s geopolitical architecture’ (Dugin 2015, pp. 1–10). In Dugin’s view: Geopolitically, Russia is something more than the Russian Federation in its current administrative borders. The Eurasian civilization, established around the Heartland with its core in the Russian narod [the ordinary people as the carriers of national culture], is much broader than contemporary Russia. To some degree, practically all the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent State (CIS) belong to it. Onto this sociological peculiarity, a strategic factor is superimposed: to guarantee its territorial security, Russia must take military control over the center of the zones attached to it, in the south and the west, and in the sphere of the northern Arctic Ocean. Moreover, if we consider Russia … then it becomes apparent that its direct interests extend throughout the Earth and touch all the continents, seas, and oceans. Hence, it becomes necessary to elaborate a global geopolitical strategy for Russia, describing in detail the specific interests relating to each country and each region. (Dugin 2015, p. 11, emphasis in original)

Although Dugin, sometimes dismissed as a neo-fascist or fantasist, has little direct influence on Putin and his government, some of his strategic options have been cautiously paralleled by Moscow’s policies in recent years, driven by the logic of military and economic pre-emption in the face of an expanding sphere of Western interests (see further Chapter 5). However, Putin remains cautious of further military expansion in Ukraine and Dugin himself has been increasingly marginalized from Russian leadership circles since he was sacked from Moscow State University (Shlapentokh 2014). Rather, over the last decade a mixed group of pragmatists, nationalists, Eurasianists and Orthodox conservatives, organized around diverse think tanks or clubs (including the Valdai Club, The Russian International Affairs Council, the Center for Strategic Research and the Izborsky Club), have shaped the landscape of Russian thinking. The Putin regime can pick from a range of perspectives produced by these networks, using them in public diplomacy without adhering to a strict ideology or being influenced by one agenda (Laruelle 2016, p. 644).3 At present, Russia’s approach might best be termed ‘hybrid multipolarity’ since it engages selectively from diverse multipolar frameworks. This includes statements directed towards multilateral cooperation (support for the UNSC, the UN and international law), visions of a new great power framework to replace the unipolar order, efforts to limit or slow US unilateralism and liberal hegemonic pretensions, hopes of sustaining a future tripolar global order, plus claims of a unique civilizational legacy and geopolitical role under the rubric of a ‘Greater Eurasia’. However, these positions are often reactive to US power or to specific crises, and

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lack normative or ideological coherence (Lo 2015, p. 64). Further, each of these components is a highly ambitious agenda which Russia cannot sustain by itself. Creating a balanced Eurasian multipolarity would require Russia to partner with both China and the EU in a predictable management of shared security and developmental problems. This cooperation remains extremely limited in key areas such as a final resolution of the Eastern Ukraine crisis, harmonizing EU and EEU trade and investment regimes, ending the Syrian war and coping with the related refugee exodus of almost six million ‘persons of concern’ who have fled into neighbouring countries and Europe. Russia seems unlikely in the near future to be able to garner sufficient goodwill from Germany, the EU, the US or NATO to boost its regional and global leadership. For great power groups to manage an effective multipolar system a certain degree of mutual recognition and conferral of status is required, even if this process is somewhat fluid (Zala 2016). In Russia’s case, such recognition is found within distinct partnerships (China and India) and spheres of action (the SCO, EEU and BRICS), but remains lacking with the West during the current period of intensified distrust that began in 2013. A retreat to geopolitical spheres of influence may well undermine the emergence of a functional multipolar order, whether based on a new version of great power management or more diffuse multilateralism focused on evolving global-level institutions.

INTERDEPENDENT MULTILATERALISM VERSUS DYSFUNCTIONAL MULTIPOLARITY What would constitute a balanced, interdependent multipolarity capable of managing world affairs and providing the shared public goods for a working international order? Neorealist theory, while trying to broaden the definition of power and taking into account structural changes in the last half century, assumes that new and evolving institutions have functional outcomes that make them useful for powerful states. Avoiding large-scale wars, managing ongoing crises, promoting continued human development and being able to adapt to change would be part of a minimal set of requirements. This would need to go beyond ‘great power management’ roles of preserving the balance of power, avoiding major wars, dealing with crises that threatened international order, and coping with non-traditional security threats (Cui and Buzan 2016). At the regional level, too, it would need to evolve beyond the ‘functional spillover’ of economic cooperation towards the active management of complex interdependence among great powers during the current phase

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of turbulent globalization. Diverse types of power, including soft power, diplomatic leadership, geopolitical and regional engagement give different states and non-state actors diverse roles in crisis management and institution building. In the Eurasian setting, due to the challenge of widespread underdevelopment and the rise of non-traditional security threats, this requires mixed international regimes engaging small, middle and great power states alongside NGOs and societal forces (see Chapter 3). Polarity concepts in international relations have never been purely theoretical constructs, having a communicative role in diplomacy, whether implicitly in the 19th century and in the search for order in the post-World War II period, or more overtly in recent foreign policy formulations (see De Keersmaeker 2017, pp. 4–5). From a great power management approach, such states must be able to arrange relations among themselves ‘and with the rest of the world for the maintenance of global order’, even if competition exists among them and the overlapping groups that now comprise the 21st-century power club (Zala 2016, p. 2). It is at the level of security that major states remain core drivers in sustaining global order: Essentially, great power management requires a small minority of powerful states to play a disproportionately active role in the maintenance of international order through the avoidance of war between themselves; the early resolution of crises involving non-great powers that could threaten to escalate into such war; and playing a leadership role in collective action problems that threaten international society as a whole. (Zala 2016, p. 7)

One danger to such a system would be uneven empowerment of one or two rising states, leading to a collapse of a multipolar system into a bilateral confrontation. The 19th century can be viewed through the lens of an almost global British–Russian competition as well as through the multipolar diplomacy of the ‘Concert of Europe’, utilizing regular congresses from 1815 onwards as a form of great power management (Cui and Buzan 2016; Zala 2016).4 Indeed, those seeking a multipolar order need some coherent concept of how power transition can be achieved without large-scale war, leading to a transformed stage where major actors are satisfied with the new distribution of relative power. This implies some theory of power transition, even if not a full-blown adherence to hegemonic stability models. Transition theories accept a hierarchical order in international affairs, where one critical phase occurs when a rising power aspires to close the gap to its main rival in the international system (Muedini 2016). It is possible that Russia sees itself as contributing to such a transition if other rising powers can come

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together to support China as an emerging peer-contender against US dominance, in part via BRICS and SCO groupings. However, Chinese dominance would itself then have to be muted by a coalition of friendly actors within a wider Eurasia that acknowledges Russian strategic, civilizational and economic interests. Likewise, the problem of complex interdependence at the economic level for great powers acting as poles of competing political power has long been recognized. Economic interdependence is not enough by itself to stop conflict, but does raise the costs imposed by such confrontations. Liberal and constructivist thinkers may have hoped for an emerging multipolar or ‘interpolar’ world which would provide ‘a largely peaceful and cooperative transition for states within a much wider process of globalisation, institutionalisation and complex interdependence’, allowing for the construction of new hierarchies and even new collective identities (Lee 2015, p. 27). This process, however, lacks many systematic or global features. It remains fragmented and ad hoc, with an emerging pluralist politics that has not yet generated a new balance of power, prestige and values – nor is opposition to the US enough to integrate the goals of rising powers (Mazarr 2017). As we have seen, the BRICS group provides one mechanism for cooperation among rising great powers, even if some members have been competitors or are conflict-prone (China and India). Likewise, strong bilateral ties, especially among Russia and China and to a lesser degree Brazil and India, are equally important in shaping this pattern of cooperation. Indeed, the approaches of India and China to the G20 and BRICS, though often collaborative, include different emphases: China has been more assertive in its global agenda compared to a cautious Indian emphasis on development and technical cooperation (Cooper and Farooq 2016). Cooperation between India and Brazil has seen the boosting of trilateral ties through the India–Brazil–South Africa Forum (IBSA), which has been increasingly active from 2003. It cooperates across 16 areas from agriculture to transport, with regular naval exercises and the possibility for enhanced security cooperation in the future. Pretexted on the expansion of ‘south–south’ relations among developing, democratic states, the IBSA forum has sought to boost intra-group trade, which reached $23 billion in 2013. IBSA can be seen as paralleling some BRICS agenda, but also acts as a hedge against bilateral tensions within the larger grouping (Stuenkel 2013 and 2016b). It seems likely that foreign policy vectors will increasingly need to find their balance across diverse IGOs with overlapping memberships. Institutional evolution and organization learning may be just as important as strategic preconceptions of a preferred international order (for the implications for China, see Chapter 8). Though not yet a multi-order system

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that can guarantee regional, let alone global, stability (Flockhart 2016), these developments indicate the level of interest-based networking being undertaken by rising powers alongside more general trends of globalization. It is not clear that China would be willing to embrace a Eurasian system with great power management as a constraining paradigm, even with itself as a central player. China is a major trading partner with the US, the EU, Africa and Latin America, is deeply engaged in Indo-Pacific trade and institutions, and is increasingly a maritime as well as a continental power (Ferguson and Dellios 2017, pp. 111–17; ONI 2015). China’s foreign policy promotes the UNSC and the UN, embracing webs of regional and multilateral action alongside diverse and focused bilateral relationships operating from small states up to the remaining superpower. This blunts the dynamic of a club of great powers as arbiters of world order, allowing China to benefit from power diffusion rather than ending up as a hegemonic contender supported by a troubled Russian state. Though Russia and China have drawn together more closely through the framework of a new model of great power relations, this should not be read as a recognized equality of power or a deep convergence of goals and norms between the two states (Charap et al. 2017; see further Chapter 5). Nor is it certain that the new model of great power relations will work with India – let alone the United States. For a multipolar system to be stable it needs to function at both the regional and global levels, eliminating both faultlines of confrontation and the luxury of proxy conflicts. The destruction of Ukraine as an integral state inclusive of Crimea since 2014 is an almost perfect example of the possible outcome of dysfunctional multipolar systems operating at diverse regional levels, whether viewed from the point of view of NATO, the European Union (and its wider neighbourhood policies) or the efforts of Russia to strengthen the Eurasian Economic Union as part of global balancing against the US alliance. Ukraine’s division was the ‘apotheosis of a broader regional dynamic’ that embraced zero-sum policies resulting in ‘negative-sum results’ (Charap and Colton 2017, p. 151). Yet a key aspect of Russian policy to 2013 had been the effort to ensure continued trade, investment, energy and loan-dependency by Ukraine to limit its foreign policy track towards the EU and eventually NATO, thereby ensuring the long-term status of Russian naval and military bases in Crimea. The incorporation of Crimea into the Russian Federation was very much a ‘plan B’ aimed at wider security interests. The Ukraine crisis was part of a wider conflict of divergent visions: a Euro-Atlantic agenda of expanding EU and US security cooperation to manage a ‘Wider

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Europe’ versus a continental ‘Greater Europe’ engaging Russia, Europe and Eurasia positively (Sakwa 2015). Unless moderated, specific conflicts can deepen geopolitical competition and undermine regional cooperation and integration projects. This is exemplified by the problematic Russian push from a shared economic and security space (via the EEU and CSTO) towards the idea of an expansive ‘Greater Eurasia’. Put another way, multilateral cooperation today must include system-wide dialogues among great powers, as well as subsidiary engagement of regional actors and smaller states to manage specific problems and ongoing crises (Zala 2016, p. 22). Current trans-Eurasian networks lack structural resilience, inclusiveness and subsidiarity. In such a setting, Russia’s security agenda and its engagement with China will lead some Eurasian processes, but are insufficient to create a balanced multipolarity unless new relationships can be forged with the EU and regional middle-power states (see Chapters 5 and 7). President Putin’s policies have a limited timeframe to transform Russia into a sustainable and accepted pole of power at both the regional and global levels.

NOTES 1.

Hence Putin’s vigorous rejection of President Obama’s off-hand comment categorizing Russia as a regional power during the Nuclear Security Summit at the Hague in 2014 (Borger 2014). For the emerging agenda of a ‘Greater Eurasia’, discussed further below, see Blagov (2016); Etin and Etina (2016); Karaganov (2016b); Lukin (2015a). 2. BRICS (2016 and 2017). BIMSTEC is the Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, supporting regional economic and trade cooperation, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. 3. For limitations of influence and independent viewpoints among some 122 major Russian think tanks, see Koshin (2016). 4. For possible ‘concert of powers’ approaches in Asia, see Gordon (2012) and He (2012).

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5. The Putin timeframe: the limits of geopolitics President Vladimir Putin’s hold on leadership has remained strong and will continue through to at least 2024, after a resounding win in the Russian presidential election of March 2018, running as an independent candidate. With 77 per cent of the voters supporting him and a 67 per cent voter turnout, the result can be seen as either a mandate for his nationalist policies or as a demonstration of his ability to manipulate Russian public opinion in the face of Western criticism (Kolesnikov 2018; Meyer et al. 2018). In spite of past efforts to build a serious opposition movement, no credible opponent, clique or political party challenges his hold on power (Oliker 2017, pp. 7–11; Myers 2015, pp. 480–81).1 Downturns in the economy, based on Western sanctions and declining oil and gas prices, have caused concern among many Russians but have not damaged his sustained ability to govern (Myers 2015, p. 437).2 Cited figures for Putin’s popularity vary greatly, with general claims of support in the range of 60 to 87 per cent during most of his rule. There was a decline in support for Putin in 2013 and a moderate decline of support for the United Russia party in 2016, according to Levada Center polls. His decisive moves to ensure that the Crimea would ‘choose’ to be absorbed into the Russian Federation made him extremely popular with the wider Russian public (with approval ratings of around 85 per cent in 2014–15) and with support from the overwhelming majority of the Russian parliamentarians (Gaddy and O’Hanlon 2015, p. 10; Levada Center 2016c).3 A July 2016 survey of Putin’s public image provides a more nuanced picture, with somewhat limited trust factors and recognition of some domestic failures in fighting corruption and maintaining quality of living (Levada Center 2016b). However, general approval ratings of Putin remained high in surveys in 2017, fluctuating between 81 per cent and 85 per cent (Levada Center 2017a). Yet the approval rating of the United Russia-dominated government was only 42 per cent, a factor which contributed to Putin running as an independent for the 2018 election (Ellyatt 2017). Putin would not want to identify with a ruling party that has lost public support, despite having been its candidate since it was established in 2001. 109

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Significantly, Putin retained much of his popularity in the period after 2015 when sanctions continued to impact the Russian economy and many Russians recognized that his policies would lead to worsening international perceptions of their country. The Levada Center’s findings are paralleled by the Pew Global Attitudes Survey in 2015, which found that even though 37 per cent felt that Putin’s handling of the Ukraine crisis would lead to worsening international opinions of Russia, over 83 per cent still approved of the way he handled relations with Ukraine, 85 per cent approved of his handling of relations with the US, and 82 per cent approved of his relations with the EU (Simmons et al. 2015). Putin may very well retain considerable influence after 2024, either through a friendly or proxy president or, less likely, by changing the constitution to allow continued rule.4 Even working as prime minister, Putin had been credited as the source of stability and order that Russians crave. Putin can be seen as the creator of the outlines of a ‘new’ Russia that will shape the first half of the 21st century: He had restored neither the Soviet Union nor the tsarist Empire, but a new Russia with the characteristics and instincts of both, with himself as secretary general and sovereign, as indispensable as the country itself was exceptional. No Putin, no Russia. He had unified the country behind the only leader anyone could now imagine because he was, as in 2008 and 2012, unwilling to allow any alternative to emerge. (Myers 2015, p. 480)

Even if Putin does not retain his current political dominance past 2024, he has shaped much of Russia’s current foreign policy and its role in the international and regional arenas. Put another way, Russia’s semiauthoritarian regime may turn out to be surprisingly durable, as have the consolidated authoritarian regimes in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (Schrad 2017). At the least, his policies have already laid the groundwork for Russia’s coming decade, thereby influencing the turbulent Eurasia landscape at the same time as China has emerged as a transcontinental Eurasian economic power. The Russia–China relationship is among the most vital of the ingredients for, or restraints against, Moscow’s current trajectory. One way into this complex arena is to assess the shifting politics of Vladimir Putin, a leader who has galvanized the political landscape of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus since 2008, but whose recent policies suggest an effort to unleash Russia’s wider geopolitical potentials.

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PUTIN’S GOVERNANCE REVOLUTION: ONCE MORE FROM THE TOP There has been a tendency to demonize Putin as an ex-KGB ‘iceman’ capable of ordering the death of former associates, an authoritarian strongman bent on reviving Russian power at all costs, the boss of a mafia state, or a kleptocratic oligarch with illicit wealth tucked away in havens around the world (Schrad 2017; Zygar 2016; Kaplan 2016; Dawisha 2014).5 Although there is some truth in these different psychological stereotypes, they miss the reality of Putin’s careful manoeuvring within Russian political culture and an emerging geopolitical agenda that has serious implications for Eurasia as a whole. Nor is it valid to see Putin as fixated on rebuilding the Soviet Union in new institutional forms: in 2005 Putin stated that people who wanted the USSR back ‘have no brains’. He had long since come to the realization that the ‘Soviet system had exhausted its possibilities of development’ (Lynch 2011, pp. 1, 29). It may be better to see Putin as a complex character whose ideas have evolved through a charged historical period (Zygar 2016). He is both one of the main shapers of Russian strategic culture but is also embedded and partly constrained by it as well (see further below). Indeed, there is a strong consensus within the country that Russia should act, ‘and be recognized as a great power’, a narrative that is judged domestically not only by words but also by action and outcomes (Kuzio 2016, p. 8; Gaddy and O’Hanlon 2015). Western commentators in general are highly critical of Russian legitimacy as a reborn, rising power. The strong security regime within Russia was highlighted by events surrounding the flight of billionaire Boris Berezovsky to the UK (2000), the poisoning of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya and former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko (2006), the poisoning of the former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal (2018), the tragic death of anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in jail, and the trial of former oil millionaire Khodorkovsky (from 2010, pardoned in late 2013). These controversial cases combined with perceptions of a managed democratic system from 2011 onwards undermine Russia’s soft power and complicate its international relations. Indirect control of opposition groups, a harsh approach to ‘law and order’, and even harsher laws on terrorism were seen as a form of state empowerment increasingly focused on the leadership of Vladimir Putin. In the view of Lilia Shevtsova (Carnegie Moscow Center), Russia is heading back from a hybrid political system towards a ‘hard authoritarianism’ from its former position as an ‘imitative democracy’ (Shevtsova 2011).

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‘Putinism’ has emerged as a term recognizing the mix of populism and coercion in Russia today, aided by improved government use of the tools of public persuasion, intervention in media reporting and increasingly effective mass surveillance (Gorbunova 2017). Although there is much truth in these analyses, there is also a danger of slipping towards an outraged demonization of Putin that underestimates his sustained influence on Russian and Eurasian affairs. One of the best insights into Putin’s political culture can be seen from a reminiscence that can be found in his autobiography. Although we need not accept the slant provided in this self-promotional publication, this particular event was viewed in later political biographies as a turning point, though inconsistencies suggest considerable mythologizing in the account (Putin and Gevorkyan 2000, pp. 65–79; Vickers 2016, pp. 10–13; Myers 2015; Lynch 2011). In 1989, stationed in Dresden as East Germany began to implode, Putin had to confront a group of armed protesters who had just sacked the nearby Stasi (security service) office and were about to force their way into the KGB premises. Putin, apparently, successfully faced them down after a verbal confrontation. However, he had been dismayed by the fact that when he phoned the local Russian military command for help, they refused, saying that they had no orders and could do nothing. ‘Moscow is silent’, the Russian officer had said (Putin and Gevorkyan 2000, p. 79; Lynch 2011, p. 23; Myers 2015, pp. 49–50). From this episode Putin learnt several lessons that would stay with him: the threat of mass popular movements and mob rule; the strength of nationalism as a unifier (East German protesters had soon moved from chanting ‘we are the people’ to ‘we are one people’ as a prelude to reunification with West Germany); the need for the state to have responsive institutions including a strong army and security apparatus; and the imperative for Russia to respond to challenges, whether within Russia or abroad.6 The USSR had suffered from a ‘paralysis of power’ that Putin insists should never be repeated by the Russian state, a view that would have telling implications for Putin’s future leadership and Russia’s ability to take the initiative in breaking out of a post-Cold War system it rejected (Trenin 2014; Lynch 2011, pp. 23–4). We can see this carried out in Putin’s subsequent political leadership. Since 1999, Putin has asserted his leadership through a series of controversial security and foreign policy steps. In 1999, while director of the FSB, he supported the surprise intervention of Russian troops at Pristina airport in Kosovo in the effort to gain a role alongside NATO in administering the region, seeing hard power deployment as a necessary bargaining chip with the West (Lynch 2016, p. 102; Antonenko 1999– 2000). After this, he used a large-scale intervention in Chechnya to prove

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himself first as prime minister, and then as newly appointed president. This was more than a domestic issue since Russia’s tactics were heavily criticized in Europe and in the United States, but were soon subsumed after 2001 as a necessary part of the global war on terror. For a short time Putin was willing to be seen as an ally to the West in its intervention in Afghanistan, but found that Russia’s voice on security matters remained limited by an expansive NATO. By 2004 NATO had expanded to include the Baltic states and by 2008 Russia needed to ensure that neither Georgia nor Ukraine would be given a formal invitation to begin preparing for NATO membership (Zygar 2016). Thereafter Putin supported ‘necessary’ interventions in Georgia, Crimea and Ukraine, partly due to specific domestic triggers, but also as a component of a wider blunting of NATO and US influence. The need for stability and the desire for a strong state helps to explain Russia’s shift towards a more consolidated authoritarianism, including the marginalization of opposition groups in 2011–17, though government itself remains marred by ‘corruption, nepotism and cynicism’ (Kuzio 2016, pp. 1–2). State control includes a telling use of propaganda internally and externally, mobilizing widespread distrust as well as traditional narratives of Russian greatness and vulnerability, reinforcing Putin’s role as the country’s supreme decision-maker. Besides the drift toward a macho personality cult (hence the advent of Putinism, or Putiniana), there has also been a phase of information warfare designed not only to re-gain soft power influence but to create uncertainty and paralyse political opposition (Lucas and Nimmo 2015; Sperling 2015; Cassidy and Johnson 2010). From this Putin would emerge as the virtual saviour of Russia, making him inseparable from, and indispensable to, the state (Myers 2015, p. 473). If presidential advisers such as Vladislav Surkov have spun propaganda to the point where many Russians think ‘everything is PR’, Putin himself has increasingly shifted towards an assertive mix of geopolitical realism and Eurasianism, engaging a selective pattern of Russian nationalism and conservative Orthodox values (Pomerantsev 2014 and 2015; Lo 2015; see further below). In recent years this has led to a ‘war of values’ with the West, with Russian leadership circles rejecting Western formulations of democracy, liberal internationalism and ‘post-modernity’ (Lynch 2016, p. 101; Oliker 2017). These considerations mean that a key issue for Eurasia is the timeframe in which Putin can continue to shape Russian policy at the domestic and international levels. In spite of the above-noted fears that Putin would change the Russian constitution to allow for multiple continuous presidencies, he opted instead for a ‘tandem’ strategy. Putin nominated and then supported Dmitry Medvedev to become president for

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the period of 2008–12, choosing a person who had served loyally for some seventeen years but had at first no independent power base. Moreover, Putin remained the ‘paramount leader’ by becoming prime minister during the same period, often infringing on areas of policy usually reserved for the presidency, with behind-the-scenes rivalries soon emerging between the cadres around the two men (Zygar 2016; Myers 2015, pp. 314–73). However, Dmitry Medvedev should not be viewed merely as Putin’s puppet. Though ‘friends’ with Putin, he represented a more liberal approach that sought modernization of the Russian economy and society, alternative approaches to security within the Euro-Atlantic region and a ‘reset’ with the United States. Medvedev soon found his efforts hedged in by Putin and his followers, leading to serious tensions in the relationship. This left Medvedev with no prospect to run for a second consecutive term: this gambit came to be known as the rokirovka, like the castling move in chess where the king is protected but exposes the castle to attack. Indeed, Medvedev may have been used to take the blame for unpopular or unsuccessful policies (Myers 2015, pp. 288–391; Lo 2015). Nor could Medvedev effectively follow through on his anti-corruption promises, even in the scandalous case of the death of the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. His efforts to reveal a $230 million scam involving tax and legal officials caused Magnitsky to be sent to jail, where he died of a heart attack after alleged mistreatment and denial of needed medications (Arutunyan 2017). Given these tensions, Medvedev would not be the natural choice as a ‘stand-in’ president in future years, though several other political subordinates could fulfil this role since Medvedev himself was little known at the time he was ‘tapped’ for presidential nomination. Political strategists such as Vyacheslav Volodin (now Speaker of the State Duma), ironically touted as a potential leader after 2024, had sought to mobilize the idea that ‘there is no Russia today if there is no Putin’, claiming that 66 per cent of Russians could not see any realistic electoral candidates besides Putin (Moscow Times 2014; Reuters 2017e). Even if such slogans are dismissed by Putin himself, complex manoeuvring behind the scenes in the past has ensured that any opposition is divided, eroded, harassed, legally prosecuted, dismissed or co-opted. Some ‘opposition’ groups are funded when they endorse Putin’s policies, or promoted to divide stronger cores in the opposition vote. More importantly, Putin’s policies, as supported by inner circles in government and large business, have entrenched a new mainstream narrative in which Russia can say ‘no’ to the West and mobilize divergent visions of international order.

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Armed with strong popularity ratings with the majority of the population, it is unlikely that Putin will give up power, wielded directly or indirectly, in the medium term. When opposition from youth, liberal and westernizing groups had generated a serious challenge in the period 2011–12, Putin made a serious effort to portray himself publicly as committed to saving a strong Russia from its putative enemies, both within and without, fighting a form of hidden ‘war’ (Zygar 2016). His mass rallies, newspaper articles and television addresses at the time, readily lambasted by the Western media, revealed an ambitious agenda for the country. It was one which reacted against both global instability and what he described as the destabilizing politics of the West. Putin went on to argue that: In these conditions, Russia can and must play a deserving role, dictated by its civilizational model, great history, geography, and its cultural genome, which seamlessly combines the fundamentals of European civilization and the centuries-old experience of cooperation with the East, where new centers of economic power and political influence are currently rapidly developing … . In the coming years, I see our goal consisting of removal of everything that impedes our forward progression on the path of national development. This includes completing the creation of a political system, a structure of social guarantees and protection of citizens, and an economic model that together will constitute a single, live, constantly-developing, and at the same time stable and healthy state system. A system capable of unconditionally guaranteeing Russia’s sovereignty and the prosperity of the citizens of our great nation for decades to come. A system capable of defending the justice and dignity of every person; truth and trust in relations between the government and society. (Putin 2012a)

In 2012 Putin, himself approaching 60 years of age, raised the retirement age for administrative officials from 60 (as reduced by Medvedev from 65) to 70 years (Myers 2015, p. 418). Co-opted Russian media outlets have relentlessly portrayed an energetic, assertive, vigorous, even a ‘macho’ Putin.7 He has been able to appeal to conservative and nationalist cores in the electorate, and at the elite level has excluded and defeated most oligarchic contenders for influence. One of the main trends of the Putin administration has been the maintenance of a patronage-based ‘state-nation’ system with a ‘strong imperial imprint’ modified for 21st-century conditions (Lynch 2016; see further Becker and Vasileva 2017). Putin has created a core of loyal followers across diverse Russian institutions, an almost corporatist group that goes beyond party politics in capturing or co-opting state ministries and ‘critical resources of revenue flow’ in the wider economy (Lynch 2011, p. 75; see further Zygar 2016).

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The ‘Putin factor’ has increasingly used the narrative of Russian greatness, fed in part both by Eurasianist theoreticians and Orthodox conservatism. This narrative is linked to an economic imperative, with Putin seeing Russia as needing to develop Russia’s eastern and northern sectors and to control a wider footprint of Eurasian resources and transit routes. This is more than a mere pivot to the Far East, developing Siberia or increasing exports into the Asia-Pacific: it is an effort to secure the foundational basis of Russian power and security in the first half of the 21st century.8 Putin has been seeking to extend Russia’s influence in the Middle East, gain de facto acceptance of the status of the Crimea, and remain a broker in the future politics of a reduced Ukraine. He wants to ensure that Russia remains an ‘essential’ partner in Eurasian affairs, and has sought to manage power differentials with both the US and China. In his own speeches, and via academics gathered in groupings such as the Valdai Club, the ambitious ideas of a ‘Greater Eurasia’ and a ‘Greater Eurasia Partnership’ have been floated, seeking a new zone of cooperation running from the Atlantic to the Pacific with Russia as a key broker in security affairs (Li 2017; Karaganov 2016b, see below). Vladimir Putin therefore needs more sophisticated means than geopolitical balancing to entrench Russia’s global and Eurasian roles through the 2020s.

THE EMERGING COURSE FOR A ‘NEW OLD RUSSIA’ Since 1992 Russia’s foreign policy has focused on several, not always compatible, objectives: to gain from its relations with the West, retain a pre-eminent role in Eurasian affairs, and resuscitate its place as a global power (Lo 2015 and 2017a). Shifts in the assertiveness of its foreign policy, however, have been reactive to the level of Russian power and the degree to which cooperation with the United States has been perceived as possible versus the alternative of supporting a rapid onset of a multipolar or polycentric world order. Critical debates have emerged about the trajectory of Russian foreign policy in terms of preferences and capacities. Under Putin Russian foreign and security policies have evolved to seek greater independence for Russia, stronger influence in Eurasia as a whole, and eventually to transform the international order towards multipolarity, based on at least three great powers (especially Russia, China and the US) rather than a more inclusive multilateralism. This type of multipolarity, sometimes termed polycentrism, has evolved out of two major traditions: the Concert of Powers as a balancing mechanism utilized in European affairs during the 19th century, and theories of ‘great

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power management’ that have been influential in Russian international relations circles (Cui and Buzan 2016; Lo 2015; Makarychev and Morozov 2011). As we have seen, this has not yet led to convergent Sino-Russian understandings of an interdependent and functional multipolarity (see Chapter 4). Moreover, Russia would need to increase its comprehensive national power across a wide range of dimensions to ensure its ability to manage these transitions.9 Nor is it clear what level and types of power Russia will be able to enhance over the next two decades. Russia has long sought to boost its economic and military power, retains a strong diplomatic framework inherited from past Soviet engagements, has considerable intellectual capital, and has begun to mobilize its ‘soft power’ and civilizational legacies as a resource. However, it rejects the misuse of soft power to aid ‘coloured revolutions’ that support regime change in the name of liberal democracy and human rights (Chernenko 2012; Russian Federation 2013). This is most clearly expressed in the 2016 Foreign Policy Concept where it is stated that Russia is committed to ‘counter attempts to use human rights theories to exert political pressure and interfere in internal affairs of States, including with a view to destabilizing them and overthrowing legitimate governments’ (Russian Federation 2016, Section 45b). Criticisms have also been made of Russia’s limited soft power in Central Asia and Asia as a whole, with a tendency to conceptually interpret soft power as a new form of propaganda or information-warfare (Lucas and Nimmo 2015; Mankoff and Ghiasy 2015). Nonetheless, Russian policy elites have begun to chart a clearer ‘soft power strategy’ that is distinct from the general effort to boost its public diplomacy and media assets (Lo 2015; Chernenko 2012). One agency that has been tasked with related roles is Rossotrudnichestvo, created in 2008 by then president Dmitry Medvedev. Intended to resemble the United States Agency for International Development, USAID (Chernenko 2012), Rossotrudnichestvo has 95 offices in 80 countries, with 72 Russian centres of science and culture as well as 23 representatives in embassies in 21 countries. It has a general role in International Humanitarian Cooperation and International Development Assistance, but has a special focus on Russians living abroad, promoting the use of Russian language and collaboration with CIS countries (Russian Federal Agency 2016). Several Russian government commissions, such as those concerned with the CIS and Compatriots Living Abroad help coordinate Russian policies, including maintaining connections, trade and in some cases aid to groups in Ukraine and Moldova (Tudoroiu 2016). Although small in scale compared to USAID or China’s soft power projects,

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Rossotrudnichestvo is not without controversy. Notably, its historical claims are rejected by Ukrainian nationalists. Furthermore, since 2012 considerably more funding and effort has gone in upgrading Russia’s media-savvy international outlets, especially targeting Eastern Europe but also electoral politics in the US and Western Europe. Media channels such as Russia 24, Rossiya 1, Russia K, First Channel, Sputnik and RT (with an annual budget of around $241 million) are becoming increasingly more sophisticated in style, if not content (Oliker 2017, pp. 18–19; Conley et al. 2016; Gaouette 2015). However, efforts to increase soft power influence over the short term are notoriously difficult and have limited effects on long-term factors such as attractiveness of the political system, inclusiveness of a national culture, or the perceived reliability of a state as a ‘good’ international partner (Nye 2013). The current Russian leadership has increasingly supported the idea of ‘sovereign democracy’, indicating that ‘all nations should be free to choose their own social and political systems’, and that Russia need not slavishly duplicate Western institutions (Petro 2011; see further Zygar 2016). It has turned to identity debates and a ‘civilizational discourse’ to mobilize support internally and in the Eurasian region. Global competition therefore includes a contest among values and development models. These ‘civilizationalists’ see the Russian legacy, its language, culture and past historical influence as the route to mobilize support in Eurasia (via soft power dimensions and compatriots abroad), while for expansionists it acts as a means to resist the West and become more self-sufficient (Tsygankov 2010). For writers such as Alexander Lukin, the Eurasian project is not just about the economics of the Eurasian Economic Union, it also takes into account whose values and norms dominate: liberal democratic secular values are not absolute and should not be the standard for global affairs (Lukin 2014a). Even if Putin’s government can be viewed as using ‘great power balancer’ strategies, it also includes elements of defensive anti-Westernism and a ‘bastion’ mentality (Weitz 2016; Taylor 2015). The well of Eurasianism from which Putin draws his emerging agenda is not a shallow one. It goes back to Pan-Slavic, Eurasianist and Orthodox roots that were a counterbalance to Russian imperatives for modernization and Westernization that themselves stretch back to Peter the Great. The notion of an embattled but resilient Russia is a central narrative of a ‘Russian people’ at first focused on Kiev, Novgorod and Smolensk, but thereafter throwing off the ‘Mongol yoke’ and expanding the principality of Moscow into a great territorial empire, relying on the enormous wealth gained in its eastern and southern regions (Myers 2015, p. 169). This narrative of national identity has been mobilized in relations

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with Belarus and Ukraine in spite of the fact that the origins and identity of the ‘Russ’ and ‘Slavic’ people remains highly controversial, with pan-Slavism itself a dangerous tool in 19th-century statecraft (Figes 2002; Yanov 2013). Furthermore, this civilizational and geopolitical narrative sought to place a resurrected Russia at the heart of Eurasian affairs. As viewed by Putin, Russia has restored its dignity as a great nation and would become the leader and ‘center of gravity’ for the whole of Eurasia (Putin 2012b; Myers 2015, p. 412). This involves not just a ‘pivot’ to the east, but engaging the Indo-Pacific while pursuing soft and hard balancing strategies with the West, thereby giving Russia a unique status. This kind of thinking, with Russia’s power and culture tied to its influence across Eurasia, has more to inspire it than the former ‘footprint’ of the Soviet Union; it harks back to a range of 19th-century thinkers and writers, including Petr Chaadaev, Nikolai Gogol, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Konstantin Leontiev and especially Nikolai Danilevsky (Etin and Etina 2016). Past conservative philosophical and political thinkers such as Ivan Ilyin, Pyotr Stolypin, Sergei Kurginyan, Alexander Prokhanov and Vladimir Yakunin have had some influence on Putin and his circle with an amalgam of ideas that emphasized Russia as the destined civilizational leader of the Eurasian heartland (Kuzio 2016, pp. 3–5; Myers 2015, pp. 445–6; Zygar 2016). We can gain a sense of this by a brief quote from an interview with the geopolitical thinker Aleksandr Dugin, who asserts a particular vision of ‘active’ multipolarity: Putin is just indignant that the West establishes rules in its own interests, changes them when necessary, and interprets allegedly ‘universal norms’ in its own favour … . The point of the Theory of a Multipolar World is that there are no rules established by some one player. Rules must be established by centers of real power. The state today is too small for that; hence the conclusion that civilizations should be these centers. Let there be an Atlantic objectivity and Western justice. A Eurasian objectivity and Russian justice will counter them. And the Chinese world or Pax Sinica … will look different than the Islamic one. Black and white are not objective evaluations. They depend on the structure of the world order: what is black and what is white is determined by one who has enough power to determine it. (In Millerman 2014)10

Russia has begun to mobilize a moderated, hybrid version of civilizational multipolarity, retaining the role of the UNSC and selective use of international law, claiming that this will lead to a more sustainable and peaceful international order (Lo 2015; Denisova 2011; see Chapter 4). Partly based on the idea of a gradual power-shift with the relative decline of the US and the rise of alternative powers (including Brazil, India and

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China through the BRICS group), it sees Russia playing a proactive and transformative role. In this view the world is gradually entering a post-American and post-Western stage, where secondary powers can take on a much stronger role. This involves a direct criticism of US foreign policy and its liberal-hegemonic assumptions (Tsygankov 2010; Nye 2017). However, Moscow’s aim of a multipolar global order with collective leadership needs to carefully consider transitional risks which could lead to disorder rather than order. In the view of Andrei Tsygankov: The transition to a full-fledged multipolarity is likely to take a considerable time – probably twenty years or so – and it requires a strategy of adaptation to the new international condition. During this era of transition, Russia will be in a group of the tipping point states – the United States, the European Union, and China. While remaining assertive in defending its core interests, Russia will do well to design a long-term strategy of flexible cross-cultural alliances and domestic concentration. (Tsygankov 2010, p. 213)

Remaining ‘Westernizers’ within Russian policy groups such as Igor Yurgens and Dimitri Trenin argue that this shift is premature, and that Russia lacks the economic power and civilizational claims to make it a power centre truly independent of US and European wishes (Trenin 2016; Yurgens 2015). Others see Russia’s foreign policy as directed by pragmatism and special interests that do not always coincide with Western views but which have not yet evolved into a coherent alternative ideology. From this perspective, Russia is using its foreign policy to sustain practical national goals: a return to economic growth, maintain influence among neighbouring states, secure its borders, and reduce internal and transnational terrorism. Still others see Putin’s use of Eurasianism and the turn towards China as a reactive, ‘plan B’, only engaged after Russia found itself unable to gain recognition for its security interests in the period 2001–08 (Lo 2015; Shleifer and Treisman 2011). In general, Russians feel that their country should play a positive role in world affairs, expand its influence and become a ‘powerful’ and ‘flourishing’ state, even if cautious of the cost of confrontational policies (Levada Center 2015). In this environment, Russia’s foreign policy is a key factor shaping Eurasian politics and influencing Europe, the US and East Asia, but is constrained by a number of factors. Russia generated only around 3.27 per cent of global GDP (PPP) in 2015, well below China’s 17.08 per cent or the US with 15.8 per cent, and this ratio has been projected to decline further by 2021 (Economic Watch 2016b; Tsygankov 2010). Russia in global terms has a fairly average GDP per

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capita (about $26 489 PPP estimated for 2017) and solid Human Development Index figures. Russia’s HDI, which factors in wealth, education and health, was 0.798 in 2014, ranking 50th out of 188 countries, showing some gains during 2000–14. However, it has experienced a slowing GDP growth since 2011, with GDP growth of minus 2.8 per cent in 2015 and minus 0.2 per cent for 2016 with only a modest rebound of 1.8 per cent for 2017 (DFAT 2017c). Even if stronger growth returns after 2018, Russia will still have a shrinking ratio of economic clout on the global stage, especially when compared to rising countries such as China and India (UNDP 2015; Lo 2015; Ignat and Bujanca 2013). Demographic trends, with an overall reduction of population, remain troubling – with a decline from 148.6 million in 1993 to around 143.4 million in 2016. If the population were to drop as low as 128 million in 2050, this would lead to an aging population, lower GDP growth and a reduction in the pool for available military personnel, though government policies and diversification in the economy seek to avoid these outcomes (Orlova 2015; Stratfor 2015; Nikishenkov 2012; Eberstadt 2011). Shrinkage of populations in Siberia and the Russian Far East have persisted since 1989 and continued in the current decade, undermining Putin’s proclaimed pivot towards the East and the Asia-Pacific (Lo 2015; Ryzhkov et al. 2012). Russia has sought to buffer itself against some of these negative trends by resource-nationalism and boosting exports to Asia, especially China, though its share of Asia-Pacific trade remains relatively low (see further below). Russia is also modernizing and upgrading its hard power capacities at both the nuclear and conventional levels. Defence spending was planned to increase (up from $64.5 billion to over $74 billion in 2016–18), partly driven by 2011–20 State Armament Programmes, but slowed in recent years to around $46.6 billion (2016) as economic growth declined (Chipman et al. 2017; Cooper 2015). However, it will need to be seriously increased again if modernization plans are to continue, including new ballistic missiles (the Sarmat), hypersonic boostglide vehicles, further development of the fifth generation fighter Sukhoi T-50 into a stealth fighter form (the Sukhoi PAK FA), plus plans for a sixth generation aircraft using swarm drones (McGarry 2016; Chipman et al. 2016; Cooper 2015). Russia has an active military of 831 000 personnel, and plans to deploy 1500 new aircraft and helicopters, 200 new anti-aircraft systems, new frigates and corvettes, plus new nuclear and diesel submarines in coming years. If completed, this would enhance Russia’s ‘hard power’ potential, meeting the needs of the revised defence policy of 2014–15. This policy explicitly addressed the ‘threat to national security’ posed by NATO’s expanded operations, behaviour and

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intentions, as well as tensions over Ukraine and deployments in Syria (Russian Federation 2015; Chipman et al. 2016; Oliker 2015). These limitations have led to debates about whether Russia is really a great or global power in rounded terms, with only its energy resources, geopolitical position, residual human capital, hard power and nuclear weapons allowing it to play the role of even a regional power centre (Lo 2015). President Putin has rejected the typification of Russia as a ‘regional power’ as disrespectful, while about 65 per cent of Russians in 2015 and 2016 surveys considered Russia as definitely or probably a ‘great power’ (Borger 2014; Levada Center 2017b). A Davos World Economic Forum analysis still ranked Russia as the second greatest power in terms of its ability to influence global agenda and make initiatives that forced others to react (Porter 2016). For Putin, Russia can only protect its interests if it is a great power able to assert its interests against the West. However, there are strong opportunist, reactive, defensive and piecemeal aspects to Putin’s policies. These reflect a troubled, declining power rather than Russia as a stable pole of Eurasian and global leadership (Lo 2015; Taylor 2015). The delay in rebuilding the Russian economy has already had flow-on effects in slower military modernization under its armament programme. This recovery will be gradual, given Russia’s over-reliance on hydrocarbon exports, problematic in an age of low oil prices, energy diversification and the increased global use of fracking to access new oil and gas reserves. Perspectives on what path Russian foreign policy should take are partly conditioned by how powerful the Russian state is seen in relative terms, and in particular how far it can project power in constraining, engaging or deterring other states. Indeed, those who see a special civilizational role for Russia can only achieve this when the relative power of Russia is already high, allowing it to balance against the West, while a weak Russia may need to bandwagon with the West, use flexible alliances or engage in largely rhetorical confrontations (Lynch 2016; Tsygankov 2010). Only more optimistic commentators would see sustained Russia–China cooperation as the basis for a duumvirate across wider Central Asia that might support long-term Eurasian integration or a strategic balancing role for Russia (Charap et al. 2017; Karaganov 2016a; Bezrukov and Sushentsov 2015). Indeed, such a formulation would not suit China’s networked multilateralism, nor meet the needs of Central Asian states seeking a more multi-vector foreign policy (see Chapters 3 and 4). Various descriptions have been made of Russia as an energy superpower, regional great power, global power and rising power, either going

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through a post-imperial, neo-imperial, authoritarian capitalist or a postmodern imperial phase (Chen 2016a; Lynch 2016; Lo 2015; Trenin 2013 and 2014). Russia’s credentials as a regional power, if suitably developed, could provide it with the resources and influence for a sustained global role. However, this regional agenda operates through loose and at times expensive frameworks (the CSTO and EEU) whose benefits have yet to be fully tested (Zuchkova 2015). Regional engagements are as much entangling as empowering for Russia, as can be seen in Ukraine and Georgian crises, limited engagement by Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in Russian-led initiatives, troubled governance in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, plus long-term water and environmental challenges across wider Central Asia. Eurasia provides a territorial buffer and resource base for Russia, but has yet to emerge as either a deeply integrated economic space or strong security framework. Rising powers might in the future form the basis of a truly multipolar world system, but the current world looks more like a non-polar, multi-order network working across state, regional and civilizational relationships. Power has been diffused and the US has gone through relative decline but no agreed or accepted multipolar order has yet evolved (Flockhart 2016; Lo 2015; Bremmer and Roubini 2011; Hart and Jones 2010). Transitional power shifts over the last decade may lay the basis of a new power system in the medium term: a ‘unipolar-plus’ world system with ‘numerous great and medium powers and international organizations’ that shape and constrain the superpower, or a layered multipolarity with increasing cooperation among rising powers (Walton 2007; Cui and Buzan 2016; see Chapter 4). However, Russia often benchmarks itself against the US, and remains overly focused on engaging responses or recognition from it (Lo 2015; Kuchins and Zevelev 2012). Russian diplomacy with China and the BRICS has not yet prepared the operational basis for a shared vision of a multipolar order that might emerge in the 2030s. China, in the end, might be forced to take the lead on a networked functional multilateralism that is more inclusive than Russian models (see further below). Russia needs to assess further its own interests and capabilities in the context of the changing international system. The Putin government seems to have been content to follow a ‘great power balancer’ agenda combined with elements of nationalism, economic and military modernization, and Eurasianism (Kuchins and Zevelev 2012; Trenin 2014). It is uncertain whether this will be sufficient to expand Russian power credentials to slot into the hoped for multipolar order. More care will need to be given to the full dimensions of activity required to sustain a global power role. Beyond a strong, diversified economy, modernized

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hard power resources, and internal cohesion, other dimensions define a rising power. Hart and Jones include factors such as the aspiration to have a more influential role in world affairs and the ability ‘to contribute to the generation of a revised international order’ (Hart and Jones 2010). Russia has inherited important roles in the UNSC, a large military and functional nuclear arsenal, acts as a ‘default’ regional power in postSoviet space, has diversified natural resources, and retains solid foreign currency reserves of over $415 billion in 2017 (Lo 2015; Trading Economics 2017). Putin’s Russia certainly has aspirations for a revised international order, but has limited abilities as a major shaper of any new international system. Beyond an active regional agenda, it has had limited engagement in peacekeeping at the global level, is not a leader in financial or trade diplomacy (such as through the WTO or G20), and has limited ability to implement R&D outside of military technology. It has difficulties in developing a creditable soft power agenda, which has been muddied by information-manipulation domestically and by hybrid-war tactics in relation to Ukraine. Moscow has maintained a level of influence within the OSCE, but has limited traction on NATO policies through the renewed NATO–Russia Council dialogue (RFE/RL 2017). Several writers have suggested future ‘doom and gloom’ scenarios for Russia, including a shift to emergency crisis management, the advent of an entrenched, narrow nationalism, possible internal fragmentation and increased international tensions (Monaghan 2016; Stratfor 2015; Zuchkova 2015; Lo 2015; Turner 2009). However, for nationalist Russians self-interest and calculation are combined with an emotive mix of aspiration and resentment (Gaddy and O’Hanlon 2015). This means that partial economic decline by itself will not be enough for Russia to destabilize internally. Likewise, declinist arguments based on Russia harbouring weak and undemocratic institutions somewhat miss the point. Russia has some strong institutions, just not the ones the West associates with democratic or transparent governance. These institutions include the Security Council of Russia, effective if overactive security agencies (including the Federal Security Service, FSB, the Foreign Intelligence Service, SVR, and the GRU, military intelligence), an increasing ability to monitor and control private communications and public media, large if inefficient state-controlled resource companies, increasing centralization of regional administrations, and some highly active ministries that are adept at regulation of relations with Eurasian states (Baranov et al. 2015). Key drivers of Russian behaviour on the global stage have emerged over the last decade. Security, especially internal security and unity of the Russian Federation, remains important, as does the effort to rebuild a narrative of greatness that will not tolerate national humiliation. Due to

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new transnational security threats and complex interdependence in the global economy, a positive national narrative requires a strong and sustained role for Russia as a regional and global actor. This places Russia’s ‘historical destiny’ at odds with the capitalist sea-power and liberal-democratic claims of the United States, requiring Russia to engage in further modernization (military and economic) or improve its relations with the US and EU. An alternative route is to force the early evolution of a truly multipolar order in which Russia has an indispensable function as a core Eurasian power. There are, however, diverse models of multipolarity, multilateralism and polycentrism, with Russia still lacking the tools to implement its policy preferences without serious accommodation to Chinese interests (see further below). The fluctuating trajectory of emerging powers such as China, India and Brazil ensures that any multipolar transition will need to evolve a form of dynamic equilibrium rather than trying to build a static ‘system’. It may not be the West, but rather China, that inadvertently curtails Russia’s narrative of future greatness.

SINO-RUSSIAN RELATIONS: BEYOND XI AND PUTIN The China–Russia relationship is a huge topic with numerous controversies which can only be addressed briefly in this chapter. Sources of misunderstanding, confrontation and cooperation abound in the history of Sino-Russian relations. Yet it is this relationship which has defined much of Eurasian affairs for almost eight centuries, and remains a crucial axis in global affairs today. Early Russian perceptions were filtered through the impact of Mongol conquerors that controlled much of central Eurasia from the 13th century onwards (through four major khanates, one of which, the ‘Great Khanate’, comprised the Yuan dynasty founded by Kublai Khan). China therefore, via the Mongols, ‘Tatars’ and the ‘Golden Horde’ formed part of a great eastern ‘other’ that interacted with Kiev and Moscow, partly through conquest, and partly via extended trade networks that crossed the Eurasian land-mass, including the ‘steppe and silk roads’ that linked east and west (Christian 2000). Kiev, as a mixed Scandinavian and Slav society, evolved through the 8th to 12th centuries to become the first Orthodox ‘Rus’ state, which was conquered by the Mongols in 1237–40 (Figes 2002; Magocsi 1996). In turn, the Principality of Moscow (or Moscovy) became increasingly important from the 13th century, but was ruled (indirectly) by the Mongol Golden Horde from 1240 until 1480.

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After the throwing off of the so-called ‘Tartar Yoke’ (Moscow itself had been attacked again by raiders as late as 1571), Moscovy began to expand into a large territorial state without natural borders.11 The ending of Mongol suzerainty was seen as an essential step in Russian national development, setting the stage for later expansion eastward. In turn, the Golden Horde had viewed Russia as somewhat peripheral to its economic control of major trade routes and its access to the China–Persia caravan trade (Halperin 1985). Russia from the 1550s onwards defeated eastern khanates such as Kazan and Astrakhan, and would rapidly expand eastwards across the steppe into the Ural Mountains and then Siberia (Figes 2002). The fur trade of Siberia, along with agriculture and minerals extraction, formed a major source of income and taxes for the Russian government treasury during the 17th and 18th centuries. Fine furs as a cash economy were so important that trade networks (the ‘Great Sable Road’) crossed all the way from Siberia through Russia to markets in Byzantium, Baghdad and Western Europe (Longworth 2005; Riasanovsky 1993; Bobrick 1992). As Russia expanded through Siberia into the Amur River region it directly impinged on Chinese imperial territories. Following early misunderstandings (due to conflicting territorial claims and a Russian desire for greater trade access), an early ‘equal treaty’ was signed, allowing peaceful relations for some 170 years (based on the Treaty of Nerchinsk, negotiated through 1687–89). This was followed by growing exploitation and unequal treaties as the Qing dynasty weakened and Russia sought a zone of influence across parts of northern and western China, partly enshrined in the Treaties of Aigun (1858), Peking (1860) and Tarbagatai (1864) (Lukin 2016; Bobrick 1992). Russian imperial power grew through the acquisition of territory, resources and trade in the East, bringing it into intense engagement, and sometimes conflict, with the Mongols, Persians, Ottomans, Chinese and Japanese. Russia in this late phase still saw itself as gaining wealth and influence through its relations with a weakened China, even as the dragon throne teetered before the impact of European and Japanese incursions. Relations became more complex in the 20th century, with the Soviets at first supporting the nationalist GMD before gradually recognizing the revolutionary potential of the Chinese Communists, though the USSR also entertained hopes of creating its own sphere of influence in Xinjiang through the 1930s (Millward 2007; see further Chapter 1). In the second half of the 20th century Soviet support for republican and then socialist reforms led to the period of communist ‘alliance’ (from 1949), followed by a period of geopolitical antagonism (1960s to the early 1980s). This rivalry was so tense that the Sino-Russian border

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became one of the most heavily militarized in the world, with fears that ideological and territorial disputes could lead to a major confrontation. The Soviets deployed major armoured and missile units into this theatre, while China feared it might need to use nuclear forces tactically against superior mobile forces if they were invaded. As matters turned out, nuclear weapons were never used even in the 1969 Sino-Soviet border confrontation, which remained contained. China was also concerned by the presence of Soviet forces in Afghanistan (not far from Chinese borders), and by Soviet support of Vietnam in its occupation of Cambodia. Economic and security dialogues were resumed after 1989, with most of the territorial obstacles in the relationship having been resolved through the 1990s. The new relationship was viewed as evolving into a ‘strategic comprehensive partnership’ from the late 1990s onwards, as enshrined in the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation Between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation, 2001, followed by later cooperation agreements, including a new outline on the Treaty’s implementation in 2017–20 (Wang 2017; MOFA 2017d). For the last three decades the relationship between Russia and China has been one of the defining axes around which contemporary Eurasia has evolved; it has allowed the normalization of many borders across Inner Asia, encouraged the formation of the SCO, shaped complementary trade flows, and forms a potential security counterbalance to Western alliance systems (both across the Euro-Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific). Though the SCO may be largely a ‘soft-balancing’ grouping in relation to the US and NATO, growing Russian–Chinese strategic and military cooperation has been seen as evolving almost to the point of a de facto, though limited and loosely defined, ‘alliance’ (Carlson 2016; Flikke 2016; Cohen 2015; Nye 2015). However, there are very real differences of perception in these two countries as to the political use of military force, and rather different strategic aims in relation to NATO and the US, though a process of ‘norm convergence’ has begun to shape their foreign policy formulations (Wishnick 2017; see Chapter 4). As such, the relationship is still going through a transition as the roles of these two states change at the Eurasian and global levels. Intense interaction over several centuries has left its legacy: modern Russian and Chinese elites have developed an extensive knowledge of each other, though this remains largely confined to ambassadors, foreign policy circles, academic groups and cross-border traders (Lukin 2016). In spite of Putin’s detailed knowledge of China, many ordinary Russians (including business people) see themselves as Europeans and may harbour some lingering stereotypes that make deeper engagement with

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China problematic (Lukin 2016). Russian business people dealing with Chinese companies sometimes complain of unfair negotiating tactics, Russians in the Far East are concerned about the leasing of agricultural land to Chinese interests, and concerns over emerging Chinese military superiority have gained greater credence (Rumer 2017). However, Levada Center surveys (2015–16) had shown that China’s achievements were viewed as the most valuable for Russia of all other countries (though this was still only at 23 per cent of respondents). In 2016 China was seen as only the third closest ‘friend or ally’ after Belarus and Kazakhstan, but a total of 72 per cent of respondents had a very or generally positive attitude to it (Levada Center 2016a, 2016d and 2016e). Detailed public knowledge of China seems to have declined in modern Russia, which is more focused on benchmarking against the US, though attitudes remain generally positive. Until recently, China remained considerably underreported in the Russian press and both negative and positive stereotypes were still found in popular media (Lukin 2016). Likewise, for China, interaction with the US and Europe has become increasingly important, making its Russian relationship ‘one among many’, in spite of recent efforts by Putin to see this as a ‘special relationship’ (see further below). Indeed, though Russian studies and languages still find a presence in many Chinese universities, they are no longer on the scale of English, a requirement for higher degrees. However, the study of Russian has found some recent rebound in China due to the increasing level of economic and business engagement, with it being taught at over a hundred higher institutions, including Beijing, Heilongjiang and Dalian universities (Rogova 2010; InfoRos 2010). Moreover, China maintains an extensive embassy in Moscow, with cultural, defence, political, education, scientific, technological and commercial offices, alongside consulates in major cities including Khabarovsk and St Petersburg. Sino-Russian engagement has been revitalized since 2014: China will import Russian energy at an increasing rate (via major deals agreed in 2014, once new gas pipelines have been completed), is a major importer of Russian armaments to support its power-projection capacities, and has recently begun to explore possible joint research and development projects, including new weapons systems, nuclear power plants, aerospace manufacturing, and high speed railways (Fu 2016). Beyond joint ‘peace missions’ conducted under the auspices of the SCO since 2005, bilateral exercises have been increasing since 2012. These have included joint operations in the Mediterranean Sea (May 2015), followed by large-scale naval operations in the Sea of Japan (August 2015) and strategic naval exercises in the South China Sea during September 2016. Although trust can be a difficult quality to measure, it appears to be

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increasing between the Russian and Chinese militaries, with the sharing of intelligence on US ABM systems and a Chinese delegation visiting the secret Operational Command Centre of the Russian Armed Forces (RusAF) in March 2013, while naval interoperability exercises began as early as 2012 (Muraviev 2014). In late 2016, joint (computerized) missile exercises were announced by Russia and China as a response to the US deployment of advanced THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) systems into South Korea that may undermine China’s missile-based nuclear deterrence (Bloomberg 2016). Indeed, reports of deployment by China of road-mobile, long-range missiles (Dongfeng-41s) near the Russian border in early 2017 may be a response to THAAD capabilities, as well as to heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula (Blagov 2017). Such a location may open up missile tracks beyond likely THAAD interceptions, but could theoretically bring the launchers into the scope of coordinated Russian anti-missile defence systems in the Far East. Likewise, Russia has been concerned about the deployment of anti-missile systems into Northeast Asia, central Europe and via deployment of advanced ship-based systems in both theatres, seeing this as part of a ‘double containment’ by the US and its allies (Scimia 2017a). However, this strategic trust between Russia and China is not comprehensive. Some recent Russian deployments of new, road-mobile Iskander-M tactical missiles (ranges of 400–500 kilometres) to Buryatia and Gorny suggest deterrence against China rather than US forces, unless these missile systems are upgraded or intended for operational movement further east (Plopsky 2017). Likewise, China and Russia have not yet directly combined their R&D capacities to counter US anti-missile and ballistic missile technology (Weitz 2017). During the September 2016 G20 meeting Putin made it clear that Russia was ‘in solidarity with China’s position’ and rejected the interference of third parties in the South China Sea dispute (Wishnick 2016). This was a strong statement, since Russian support for Chinese claims in the South China Sea could alienate Vietnam, while excessive military engagement with China and Pakistan might complicate relations with an India already tilting in the direction of soft alignment with the United States. These trends have led to a chorus of voices suggesting an emerging Sino-Russian axis that is fast becoming a de facto military alliance with the future potential to challenge US military supremacy (Stokes 2017; Carlson 2016; Flikke 2016). However, this ignores the fact that Chinese foreign policy disdains formal military alliances and instead focuses on treaties of ‘friendship’ and ‘good neighbourliness’, alongside targeted ‘partnerships’ that channel more focused areas of cooperation (Devere 2014, p. 188; Leallsla 2009, pp. 179–81). Furthermore, military

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alignment remains constrained by a number of factors, including hightech rivalry in some areas of arms production, and elements of peercompetition remain across regional areas of influence (Watts et al. 2016; see further below). From 1996 Russia and China sought to form a strategic partnership suitable for the 21st century, and formalized the desire for a multipolar world in the Moscow Declaration, signed at the fourth Sino-Russian summit and adopted in April 1997 (Lukin 2016; UNGA 1997). Even if a rather loose framework, this entrenched the orientation towards long-term cooperation between the two countries, reinforcing ‘the message to the international community that Russia and China, together as well as individually, are to be reckoned with’ (Lo 2008, p. 55). However, this did not evolve into a formal defence alliance (Lukin 2016). Indeed, the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation Between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation (2001) focuses on improving trust between the two militaries, confidence-building measures and technological cooperation (Article 7), and ensures that they ‘shall not enter into any alliance or be a party to any bloc’ against either state (Article 8). The closest the treaty comes to mutual guarantees in the face of aggression is that the two countries should immediately make contact and hold consultations in order to ‘eliminate such threats’ (Article 9). Article 4 also outlines mutual support for defending national unity and the territorial integrity of both states. Article 12 does suggest some geopolitical coordination: ‘The contracting parties shall work together for the maintenance of global strategic balance and stability and make great efforts in promoting the observation of the basic agreements relevant to the safeguard and maintenance of strategic stability’ (MOFA 2001). By 2005 China and Russia were affirming their long-term role as ‘strategic partners’ in global affairs, with efforts at coordination for an emerging multipolar world run via bilateral dialogues, as well as through the SCO, RIC (Russia, India and China) and BRICS forums (PRC/Russian Federation 2005; Flikke 2016). Hu Jintao and Vladimir Putin had argued that China–Russia relations were the cornerstone of building a new international order, as stated in their joint statement of July 2005: ‘the future of the world, the progress of mankind, and the ability to deal with challenges and threats depend on the outcome of this dialogue’ (PRC/ Russian Federation 2005). Similar terminology has been carried through in numerous official statements and communiqués operating at the bilateral and multilateral levels, including The Declaration of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation on the Promotion of International Law (2016/06/26), the Joint Communiqué of the 13th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the

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People’s Republic of China (2015/02/02), and the BRICS’s 15 April 2010 Joint Statement supporting ‘a multipolar, equitable and democratic world order, based on international law, equality, mutual respect, cooperation, coordinated action and collective decision-making of all States’.12 Official efforts have been made to portray this relationship as increasingly positive and warm (a ‘teddy bear and panda’ emblem is sometimes shown in some friendship logos), rather than a tense co-existence between the bear and the dragon. In large measure, however, the relationship is based on a number of practical necessities and areas of enhanced cooperation across diverse vectors. Both countries share a long border (now fully agreed and demarcated) that needs careful management. They are major members of the UNSC, SCO, BRICS and the New Development Bank, with increasing efforts at coordinating China’s BRI and Russia’s evolving EEU (Escobar 2015c; Barrett 2015). China is Russia’s largest trade partner after the European Union, and the largest single source of its imports, accounting for 20.9 per cent of these in 2016. Both Russia and China hope to boost trade volumes in future: trade rose from $6 billion in 1999 to $95.3 billion in 2014 and fell to $64.2 billion in 2015, but there are prospects it could rise to $200 billion in future if the Russian economy revives and energy export plans are sustained (Wishnick 2016; DFAT 2017c). They have several complementary economic needs: Russia is one of the world’s biggest energy producers and China is the largest energy consumer; Russia is a producer of military technology needed to modernize the PLA while China is a major producer of commercial machinery, equipment and consumer items; and in 2010 they agreed to use their own currencies, rather than the US dollar or euro, for bilateral trade (Fu 2016; RT 2014). Likewise, both countries have an interest in stabilizing the Korean Peninsula (without a rapid collapse of the North Korean regime) and long-term desires for a more peaceful Northeast Asia. Thus in July 2017 Russian and Chinese foreign ministers issued a joint statement on tensions in the Korean Peninsula, urging a ‘dual track’ of halting North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes and reducing South Korea’s military exercises with the US and its deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system (Wang 2017). Both Russia and the PRC had become alarmed over increasing brinksmanship between the US and North Korea in 2017, regarding the increased flow of mutual threat as unproductive and dangerous (Lukyanov 2017). They are also deeply concerned about transnational terrorism within wider Central Asia, and the global flow-on effects from the conflict in Syria and Iraq. However, it remains to be seen as to whether Russian and Chinese policies will converge sufficiently for a coherent strategy to emerge for stabilizing Afghanistan and fragile

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states such as Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Though the SCO is one possible conduit for enhanced cooperation by means of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group (operating since 2005), a stronger leadership role would need to be taken by Russia and China, followed by India, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, for this to change the poor security outlook for Afghanistan, with unremitting Taliban offensives through 2017 (SIGAR 2017a; Tass 2015; see Chapter 3). Over the last decade China has gradually upgraded its relations with Russia, involving not just interstate diplomacy, but also a deeper political dialogue between ruling parties, which has run as a parallel mechanism since 2010. As noted in one official Chinese account: China’s strategic partnership of coordination with Russia has become the closest, most dynamic and most profound between major powers, and developing positive relations with Russia is always a priority for China’s foreign affairs. Xi attended the second meeting of the dialogue mechanism between the Chinese and Russian ruling parties and had extensive and in-depth discussions with leaders of various parties in Russia, further strengthening Sino-Russian relations. (State Council Information Office 2014)

However, there are limits to how far this relationship can develop. Even though both states were happy to use the term ‘strategic partnership’, by 2008 they already had different perceptions of what this meant, with Russia needing China as a key supporter in geo-strategic balancing against the West, while China was more focused on regional and multilateral cooperation (Lo 2017a; Lo 2008). Even trade flows had their controversial side: there have been major delays in the new gas pipelines agreed in 2014, and claims have been made that Chinese negotiators squeezed the price down at a time when Russia was being hurt by Western sanctions (Danner 2016). An imbalance in the energy relationship had begun as early as the financing of the East Siberia–Pacific Oil Pipeline (ESPO), where Chinese capital had been crucial in ensuring that the agreed-upon oil volumes and related pipelines could be sustained. In the largest gas deal, worth $400 billion and mandated to run over 30 years, China made large prepayments to Russia and sought investment in the Russian energy sector, though the exact details have not been fully published. Russia was in effect ‘mortgaging much of its energy power to China by committing to long-term delivery contracts in exchange for investments and loans’ (Flikke 2016, p. 168). Though energy cooperation will intensify, it is likely that China will be the most advantaged of the two (Skalamera 2016, p. 97). Likewise, serious delays in bringing the Power of Siberia pipeline and the more western Altai pipeline project into operation will slow down and complicate this dynamic.

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Overall, China has no interest in a formal military alliance with Russia, does not wish to form an anti-US or anti-Western bloc, and is cautious of becoming entangled in geopolitical tensions generated by Russia’s assertive Ukrainian or Arctic policies (Fu 2016; Weitz 2017). On the Russian side, there are lingering concerns about Chinese influence in Siberia and the Russian Far East, where Moscow has found it hard to sustain its economic pivot due to declining population and lack of economic diversification. There have even been claims that China’s growing investment (and influence) in the thawing Arctic region concerns Russia, which sees developing this area as a core national priority. China has begun to pull ahead in overall economic and military power at the same time as Russia has found it hard to sustain its modernization projects militarily and industrially (Maxie and Slayton 2016; Watts et al. 2016; Nye 2015). In the worst-case scenario, a weakened Russia could turn into a mere satellite and natural resource supplier to an empowered and expansive China (Lukin 2015b). Put another way, if hard-line Russian nationalists disdain a future controlled by the United States, they would equally reject a Eurasia dominated by Chinese wealth, mega-projects and global influence. Russia might prefer to be a third pole balancing the US and China, but short of that has been preparing the ground for power diffusion in a future multipolar order (Lo 2017a; Lo 2008; see Chapter 4). Beneath positive trends and practical cooperation, old patterns of suspicion persist that may undermine the evolution of a true Eurasian diarchy or future integration of Russian and Chinese developmental projects (Nye 2015; Oster 2009). A sense of a growing imbalance between these two states may destabilize future cooperation unless Russia can engage effectively in its own eastern pivot, going beyond deepening engagement with Chinese security projects and further coordination of BRI with Russia’s EEU (see further Chapters 2 and 6). These factors suggest that Russia needs to rapidly diversify its eastern trade and reinvigorate partnerships with Vietnam, India, Japan and ASEAN if it is to avoid being drawn into the orbit of China’s transformation of Eurasian affairs (Lo 2015). Indeed, from 2012 Russia sought to expand its Asian partnerships, including a military cooperation agreement with Pakistan and the possible sale of military equipment to that country, only partly moderated by Indian concerns (Tweed 2015). Increased efforts have been made by Russia to engage Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam, India, Japan and the ASEAN grouping, economically and politically. Russia remains a major arms and nuclear power supplier to India and Vietnam, and strongly supported India and Pakistan becoming full members of the SCO. Aside from ‘arms sales as usual’, this new

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embrace of Pakistan may be part of a wider approach to engage South Asia and Afghanistan, giving Russia more geopolitical influence with both India and China (Pradhan 2015). These efforts, however, only partly offset the importance of the relationship with China in establishing Russia as a genuinely Indo-Pacific power. A host of recent voices, mainly from the West, have emphasized the limitations in the China–Russia alignment, partly because of the fear that a stronger alliance would have serious implications for the United States and the European Union (Lo 2017b; Tweed 2015; Cohen 2015; Blank 2011). Chinese commentator Shen Dingli (from the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University) sees this cooperation as mainly tactical, with Russia still focused on gaining respect from, and integration with, the West (Shen 2016a). Indeed, over the last two decades there have been strong tensions within ‘Russian foreign policy goals of maximizing the benefit of its relations with the West and security recognition of Eurasia as a zone of Russian “privileged” interests’ (Kuzio 2016, p. 8). Likewise, since the 19th century there have been negative Russian voices warning of the dangers presented by an expansive, empowered China. Writers, academics and politicians such as Aleksei Arbatov, S.P. Repin, A. Bogaturov, V. Mironov, V.S. Miasnikov, Georgii Kunadze, Sergei Blagovolin and Egor Gaidar have suggested that China could emerge as a serious threat to Russia if its hard power and ambitions continued to grow (see Lukin 2016). Recently, Fyodor Lukyanov (Chairman of Russia’s Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policies) remained cautious of over-reliance on China or Eurasian projects and hoped that EU and German overtures will lead to Russia reintegrating into the dynamic Western world (Lukyanov 2016a and 2016b). A comprehensive report (May 2016) from the Russian think tank, the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, recognized the important economic role of China in ‘Greater Eurasia’ but saw a need for this to be balanced by other ‘powerful partners’ including India, with the SCO playing a consolidating role (Lukyanov and Karaganov 2016, Section 2.10). Indeed, this report sees Russia as needing to undertake a ‘creative, responsibly and constructive’ diplomatic function in order to manage the ‘security vacuum’ around China (Lukyanov and Karaganov 2016, Section 2.84). Others speak more openly of the future imbalance of power between the two states, predicting that Russia will become increasingly dependent on Chinese investments and trade, bringing new tensions into their strategic partnership (Skalamera 2016; Nye 2015). The complexity of Sino-Russian relations can be appreciated by a brief look at the dynamics of the two leaders that have stamped their style on Eurasian politics. Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have established secure

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cores of power that have allowed them to shape the domestic and international politics of their two countries. Putin and Xi rapidly emerged from minor official roles to become political figures appointed by previous leaders (by President Yeltsin and via the CCP Central Committee under Hu Jintao, respectively). In both cases, they quickly established a strong political influence that took them beyond the restraints of collective leadership, though both had useful partnerships with their prime ministers and collected a cadre of supporters around them within their first term. Like Putin, Xi may extend his influence beyond the ten-year period normally allotted for Chinese leaders. Since it was only the presidency that was limited to two five-year terms, Xi could continue his influence through other posts without causing strong opposition. Maintaining the position of party general secretary could continue, while the top military post of Central Military Commission (CMC) chairman would also be kept as a lever of control. This possibility was deepened by the announcement of the CCP Central Committee in October 2016 that members should unite around the party leadership with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core (Xinhua 2016b). Rather than being regarded as a 21st-century version of Mao, it has been suggested that Xi Jinping could become the Deng Xiaoping of a protracted leadership based on influence instead of formal power – though any reversal towards charismatic leadership or personality cult remains limited (Lam 2016). At the least, this may give Xi Jinping stronger influence on the next leadership line-up, as well as continuing influence on them once they take office (Buckley 2016; for counter views, see Ding 2015). In 2017 the 19th CCP National Congress endorsed Xi’s leadership for another term, and did not clearly indicate an individual successor, with the new Standing Committee mainly staffed by Xi supporters. The CCP’s further adoption in its constitution of ‘Xi Jinping thought’, focused on party leadership, socialist models of development and building a community with a shared future for humankind, and emphasized his long-term influence (People’s Daily 2017; McCahill 2017). Thereafter, in March 2018, the PRC removed term-limits for the presidency from its constitution, allowing Xi to further extend his direct power across state as well as party institutions in coming decades (Blanchard and Shepherd 2018). Xi Jinping, though never a member of the security services (like Putin), has had strong connections with military affairs. Soon after graduation he worked at the General Office of the Central Military Commission of the CCP, working concurrently as party chief for military sub-areas, and in 2010 was appointed vice-chairman of the CMC (State Council Information Office 2014). As president, he has repeatedly given

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speeches supporting a strong, modernized military that is able to win battles as part of the wider ‘dream’ of an empowered China. He is chairman of both the CCP and PRC Central Military Commissions and the Central National Security Commission of the Communist Party (established in 2013). This was one way to effectively coordinate security concerns, boost diplomacy among the big powers, reform policy-making and enhance Xi Jinping’s personal power across a range of issues (Hu 2015; Choi and Jun 2016). These two leaders have established a good understanding of each other and their respective positions on the international stage. Although their relationship has largely been embedded within the context of immediate foreign policy concerns, the personal dynamic has facilitated the expanding of Sino-Russian relations since 2014. Frequent visits, mutual gifts, bonhomie (ice-cream and vodka shots) and positive photo opportunities since 2012 have become part of presidential diplomacy for both sides (Huang 2016; Bodner and Fishman 2016). Often described as ‘warm’ (Lo 2017a), the relationship at the least shows a genuine rapport between the two leaders that may accelerate the convergence of strategic interests. One commentator went so far as to suggest that their mutual trust was a key element in the ‘continuous development of the comprehensive strategic partnership’ between the two countries, with Putin reported as saying that ‘he and President Xi have forged a very sound working relationship and profound friendship’ (MOFA 2017c; Wang 2017). Their personal ‘friendship’ has been seen as the main factor fast-tracking several projects, including a $12 billion Chinese bank loan investing in Yamal LNG, sale of a stake in Russian petrochemicals company Sibur to Sinopec, an agreement to provide credit for the Moscow–Kazan high-speed railway, and the evolution of joint cooperation in the Arctic, subsequently labelled the Ice Silk Road (Gabuev 2016; Wang 2017). At the level of international diplomacy, Xi and Putin have been able to coordinate their symbolism and messages effectively, for example in meetings leading up to the G20 meeting in September 2016 and again in preparation for the G20 meeting in 2017 (Babich 2016; Wang 2017). It has also been argued that close personal ties have helped soften the impact of China’s growing power: Fundamentally, China is comfortable with this emerging asymmetry. Xi actively uses his personal relationship with Putin to manage this dynamic and lessen Russian anxieties. Chinese leaders are even happy to maintain the facade of Russia as its ‘big brother’ as long as it results in more and cheaper access to energy resources and military equipment. The question is how long

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China can maintain this dynamic without it undermining the long-term basis for closer cooperation. (Medeiros and Chase 2017, p. 10)

For Russia, the major future concern is whether China will become too dominant in the Eurasian framework on the one hand, and on the other whether it could again tilt towards the US before Russia–US relations have ‘normalized’, reflecting the U-turn made by China in the 1970s. The election of Donald Trump in November 2016 has yet to open up the possibility of rapidly improving relations with Putin, nor has any real de-emphasis on NATO emerged in the Washington administration. As usual, many ‘hot’ election promises have been moderated through the complex wheels of US bureaucracy and its foreign policy networks. A rapid rapprochement with Russia is complicated by divergences over Syria, debates on how sanctions can be legally ended have reversed into a tightening of sanctions, and ‘mutual containment’ seems an emerging outcome, all under the shadow of Russian collusion in tampering with the US election (Lo 2017b). Meanwhile, President Trump’s meeting with Xi Jinping in April 2017 suggested a partial thawing of relations in that direction, even if China has been unwilling to comply fully in directly coercing North Korean nuclear and missile aspirations (Blanchard and Wen 2017; Thakur 2017). However, this trend is unlikely to lead to a rupture between China and Russia, since relations remain ‘win–win across the board’ with frictions being effectively managed or de-emphasized, leaving little opportunity for the US to split this partnership either from the Russian or Chinese side (Rumer 2017; see further Stokes 2017). Overall, the Xi Jinping political model may be more important than his individual leadership: Most likely, Xi Jinping will be at the helm at least until 2022; he is the same age as President Vladimir Putin, and the two leaders have good personal relations. Despite the images offered by the propaganda, there are reasons to believe that Xi Jinping as a person is not irreplaceable in the ‘Xi Jinping’ model. The system is characterized by the presence of a leader, capable of concentrating powers in a single center, but this ability does not stem from the leader’s personality, rather, it comes from a large circle of the party elite, who believe that this is the right way to respond to the sociopolitical challenges. Even with Xi Jinping gone from power, the policies and politics linked to his name will be continued by his successor. (Zuenko 2016, following Heilmann and Stepan 2016)

This means that China is likely to remain in its expansive and active foreign policy phase for the coming decade, basing its economic future

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on proactive diplomacy and investment across the Eurasian and IndoPacific regions. Part of the cost of these models has been the centralization of power and increasing monitoring of domestic viewpoints to ensure they follow the party line, a trend that has been intensifying. In Russia, too, Putin has ensured a pattern of top-down governance that gives his government considerable leeway in choosing its foreign and security policy agendas. However, this does not automatically ensure a sense of collective security. Put simply, to balance its relations with China, Russia needs to remain a great power, increasing its comprehensive national strength across a range of factors and engaging with other great powers as a pole in the international system. Russia and China being driven into each other’s arms by increasing pressure and unilateralism from the US is only one element of this process (Wang 2017). Moreover, in the prevailing period, Russia needs China more than China needs Russia, opening up the debate of who will manage whom in the 21st-century Eurasian landscape. In turn, China may find that it increasingly needs to induce and manage Russian foreign policy trends to ensure its expansive vision of an inclusive Eurasian order.

STRATEGIC LEVERAGE: CHANGING SINO-RUSSIAN DYNAMICS From 2014, increasing pressures on Russia (over Crimea and Ukraine) and on China (over claims in the East and South China Seas) brought Moscow and Beijing closer together geopolitically. Rather than just an ‘axis of convenience’, Sino-Russian relations have evolved into a stage of ‘mutual status’ enhancement. This surpasses the practical level of energy and arms deals, showing serious signs of mutual accommodation (going beyond the formulations of Lo 2008, 2015 and 2017a). Even though Chinese policymakers have understood the limitations of Russia as a great power and of the China–Russia relationship, their decision to intensify cooperation across a wide range of areas is soundly based (Medeiros and Chase 2017). Likewise, the convergence of norms and values in the two countries’ foreign policies has moved past its earlier formalistic period towards a more strategic stage. Partly channelled through the SCO, this engages mutual economic and security interests within Eurasia and balancing against external containment, including a range of constraining US policies (Blank 2016). This relationship has evolved in a nuanced ‘comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination’, though the two parties have rather different goals in relation to third parties (Bhadrakumar 2016). A better way to see this, rather than as

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‘mutual convenience’ or a ‘deep alliance’, is as part of an enhanced ‘transformative collaboration’: The argument is that both are status-seekers in international affairs, with the SCO serving as a vehicle for and manifestation of their transformed relationship, but also as a platform for claiming wider ambitions in international affairs. This relationship is viewed as one that is new, transformative, and mutually constitutive for both partners. They also find in this relationship a mechanism for upgrading their status in international affairs as against Western–U.S. dominance. (Flikke 2016, p. 168)

It is not surprising, then, that in 2016 President Putin sought to expand the relationship into a ‘more extensive Eurasian partnership’, arguing that: We think that the (Russia-led) EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union) can become one of the centers of a greater emergent economic area … Now we propose considering the prospects for more extensive Eurasian partnership involving the EAEU and countries with which we already have close partnership – China, India, Pakistan and Iran … and certainly our CIS partners, and other interested countries and associations. (Putin in Bhadrakumar 2016)

This is part of a wider conduit of thinking going back to 20th-century Eurasianists, but now formulated through the vision of ‘a partnership or community of Greater Eurasia’ which would be based on positive-sum benefits for all, respect for state sovereignty and territorial integrity, and recognition of diverse political models and cultural pluralism. This emerging partnership would then become ‘one of the key elements of a new world order’ (Karaganov 2016b; see further Li 2017). This ambition can be viewed either as Russian propaganda or as optimistic aspiration, but does show some of the thinking that has been formulated in the SCO, the Eastern Economic Forum (last held in Vladivostok) and the informal diplomacy of Russia’s Valdai Discussion Club. There have been a number of areas where China and Russia may be seen as competitors, though often operating in different modalities. Influence on Kazakhstan, a potential ‘middle power’ in regional terms, is one example where Chinese investment is now moving beyond Russian levels, with the country a key element in the Silk Road Economic Belt and BRI projects. Thus CNPC, one of China’s larger enterprises, has major investments in Kazakhstan’s oil and gas production, has been willing to help build extended gas pipelines, made loans into ferrous ore extraction, and in 2013 signed over 22 deals worth around $30 billion (Flikke 2016). However, Russia retains influence in other areas: it is the largest source of imports (36.3 per cent of those in 2016), it is the main

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provider of military equipment, and has embraced Kazakhstan as a key military partner in the CSTO and an important member of the EEU. However, Kazakhstan itself is quite willing to trade off different partners, formally embracing a multi-vectored foreign policy. Thus Kazakhstan from 2003 signed military cooperation agreements with the US and NATO, has conducted regular military exercises (Steppe Eagle) with the US and UK as part of the Partnership for Peace programme, has sustained an independent dialogue with Turkey and Afghanistan, and sees the EU as a potential developmental partner in the long term (Bupezhanova 2015; Starr et al. 2016; Weitz 2013; McDermott 2010). This leaves open the possibility of continued competition between China and Russia for economic access and influence on one of the most important of Central Asia states, but Kazakhstan is itself an important actor shaping these relationships and promoting its own version of Eurasian integration (Etin and Etina 2016). China has also begun an extended pattern of investment and trade that goes beyond a simple division of Eurasia into Russian and Chinese spheres of influence. Chinese investments have been going into Belarus, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Moldova and Poland, linked in part to BRI projects but also as a component of the new dynamism in EU–China relations (Kizekova 2017; Wade 2016; Flikke 2016; see further Chapters 6 and 7). This is not only a matter of economic competition, but rather suggests that China is keen to gain stronger recognition from the EU and individual European states, regardless of their posture on the Ukraine and Crimea crises. Likewise, areas that should bring China and Russia together have also demonstrated underlying elements of tension and crossed expectations, as we have already seen in recent controversial oil and gas deals (see above). Even military technology sales may not be as mutually satisfying as before: at times China is not happy with the low level of supplied Russian technology and is worried by competing demands by other buyers, especially India and Vietnam. Russia in turn is concerned that China may be willing to reverse engineer and use or resell its military designs, for example the PRC’s J11B, based on a version of the Su-27SK, plus adaptations from the Su-33 for carrier-landing aircraft, and surface-to-air missiles similar to Russia’s S-300 (Flikke 2016; Watts et al. 2016). Russia has also conducted its own military exercises with Mongolia, India, Vietnam and Pakistan, indicating a willingness to expand its military diplomacy beyond CSTO and SCO frameworks. In spite of the PRC producing more of its own advanced weapons systems, Russian arms sales to China continued on a large scale (worth over $7 billion in 2015), with the ongoing transfer of Su-35 aircraft, new

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communications technologies, S-400 Iskander missile systems and military helicopters (Wezeman 2017; Watts et al. 2016). This technological transfer is still important for Chinese deterrence and denial strategies, facilitating more effective capacities against the US and its allies in Asia (Weitz 2017). Currently, Russian elites, including Putin and his inner circle, see Russia as a unique Eurasian power, a view driven by security, resource and civilizational claims (Kuzio 2016, p. 2; see above). China, in turn, has been mobilizing a wide spectrum of interests and projects that have gone well beyond wider Central Asia to embrace Eurasia as a whole. Given these two overlapping narratives, Russia and China will need to further their comprehensive partnership or face a pattern of cross-cutting agendas that could lead to intensified strategic competition. This might seem to be a task suitably managed by the SCO, but this Eurasian dynamic is also embedded in the context of global power dynamics, mutual relations with the US and EU, and the increasing impact of a rising India. The SCO itself provides for soft-balancing against external players such as the US, but is also a mechanism for internal balancing among member states. Expansion of the SCO to include India and Pakistan, for example, may be seen as providing soft-balancing by Russia against increasing Chinese influence (see Chapter 2). If so, both Russia and China will need to carefully manage areas of competition as well as cooperation in a complex relationship of overlapping interests, that is, as part of an adaptive, multilevel system rather than a declarative diplomacy mobilized by concrete issues and existing problems (see Korolev 2016). As China’s comprehensive national power continues to grow beyond Russian capabilities, Moscow needs to leverage its strategic importance in relation to major European and Eurasian states, including Germany, India and a range of putative middle powers, thereby in turn raising its importance to Beijing. Further confrontation with the West is likely to undermine rather than improve Russia’s influence across Eurasia. In this setting Russia, too, needs to adopt a revised form of great power relations before it can become the centrepiece in a prospective ‘Greater Eurasia’.

NOTES 1. 2.

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For how Putin’s administration even created or funded opposition groups to fracture or co-opt strong parties, see Lynch (2016, p. 107). See further Bennetts (2014) and Greene (2014). Putin in the past had refused to extend the presidential term to seven years, but later allowed a shift to a six-year term, a move that suggests a tilt towards the ‘presidentialism’ found in some Central Asian and Latin American states (Myers 2015, pp. 246, 358–9).

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4.

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6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

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China’s Eurasian dilemmas The Levada Center is seen as more independent than the state-oriented Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM). The earlier VTsIOM came under more direct government control from 2003, when then director Yuri Levada and his team of analysts left to create their own organization (Zygar 2016). The Levada Center has come under possible threat of prosecution as an NGO receiving foreign funds, specifically from the University of Wisconsin, including some funds from the US Department of Defense (Ragozin 2016). The Levada Center has been forced to add itself to the register of non-commercial organizations acting as ‘foreign agents’, indicating its relative independence from the Russian government. However, it was not shut down and has continued to operate. Putin had been unwilling to change the Constitution in 1999. He has been careful to ensure that even controversial actions (for example against opponents or oligarchs such as Boris Berezovsky and Mikhail Khodorkovsky), seem to have a legal basis even when politically motivated – such as the restructuring of Russian regional governorships to help centralize power in Moscow; see Lynch (2011, pp. 67, 82). Putin worked for the KGB in East Germany as a case officer but was not at that time an undercover field agent: he reached the rank of lieutenant colonel (Myers 2015, pp. 39–44, 55–9). Revelations from the Panama Papers do not name Putin directly but suggest that his associates Sergei Roldugin, Arkady Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg may have helped move over $2 billion dollars for him, a claim dismissed by presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov as nothing more than continued ‘Putinophobia’ (Stratfor 2016a). For the extreme range of ‘takes’ on Putin, see Glasser (2014). Myers (2015, p. 48). Ironically, the slogan of ‘We are one people’ would be used by Putin’s Chief of Staff Ivanon to justify Russian engagement in Ukrainian affairs, arguing that both were ‘a single Slavic people’; see Kuzio (2016, p. 6). See in detail Sperling (2015) and the mix of images in the Russian 2016 and 2017 Putin calendars (http://edition.cnn.com/2016/10/18/europe/gallery/vladimir-putin-calendar-2017/); (http://edition.cnn.com/2015/12/28/europe/vladimir-putin-calendar-2016/). Myers (2015, p. 116). This pivot still remains weak in several sectors, and has not yet secured Russia’s place as an ‘Indo-Pacific’ power. See further Chapter 2 and Weitz (2016). For the diverse indices of Comprehensive National Power, as used in some Chinese, Indian and Japanese analysis, see Ferguson and Dellios (2017, pp. 173–200). See further Aleksandr Dugin (2015), Last War of the World-Island: The Geopolitics of Contemporary Russia. Though Dugin’s influence has begun to wane in Russian circles, his ideas have been introduced to Turkish government circles interested in their own version of Eurasianism as an antidote to Western criticism (Akyol 2016). The term ‘Tartar’ has been used in two senses. In one sense it refers to particular groups associated with the Mongol expansion into Russian territories: it was also the term used loosely by Russians and Europeans for invaders from the East. However, specific Tartar ethnic groups were found in the Crimea, in Kazan, and earlier on in parts of Mongolia. For early Russian attitudes to such groups, see Lowe (2000); Rasputin (1996) and Stephan (1992). English versions of these agreements can be found via Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China webpages at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjdt_665385/ 2649_665393/.

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6. Linking the Silk Roads: the Belt and Road Initiative as the driver of Eurasian integration The Silk Road metaphor has been used in several contexts for new phases of development bolstering Eurasian connectivity, to link wider Central Asia to the world economy, and create a stable environment in which states as diverse as China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia and Afghanistan can prosper. Central Asian states have seen a Silk Road agenda as furthering their integration into East–West infrastructure and trade networks, while the US had hoped that a New Silk Road (NSR) would allow Afghanistan and Central Asia to engage with the dynamic economies of South Asia. The most daring Silk Road visions, however, were launched by a PRC that needed new paths towards its ‘China Dream’ of a prosperous, strong and confident society that could emerge as a new kind of power on the global stage. The Chinese-led Silk Road Economic Belt (announced by President Xi Jinping in September 2013 during a visit to Kazakhstan) was followed by the Maritime Silk Road (announced in Xi Jinping’s visit to Indonesia the following month). They were endorsed by the CCP’s Central Committee in November 2013, and conceived as operating across a 30-year timeframe (Uberoi 2016; Xinhuanet 2015a). Linked together as the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) motto, they were further developed through the National Development and Reform Commission and authorized by the State Council in March 2015. It has since been re-translated and ‘re-branded’ as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), indicating that there are many roads, routes and corridors that are undergoing evolution as new partners are engaged. This sweeping and complex agenda will lead China to intensified engagements with South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and eventually the European Union (NDRC 2015). In its complete form it would involve over 68 countries across three continents, with early- to medium-term BRI projects of around $230–300 billion being drawn from several institutions including the Silk Road Infrastructure Fund, the AIIB, the BRICS New Development Bank, as well as several Chinese banks (Dong et al. 2016; Brewster 2015; Escobar 2015a 143

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and 2015b). Sums from national, developmental and multilateral lenders may eventually be in the order of $900–1400 billion, depending on the progress of earlier projects, while total economic mobilization across private and public sectors may eventually go past $4 trillion, with upper estimates at circa $8 trillion (Tracy et al. 2017; Sajjanhar 2016; Bader 2015; see further below). BRI is widely seen as the start of a major shift in China’s economic model, necessitated by slowing GDP growth, falling toward 6.9 per cent in 2015 and 6.8 per cent in 2017. This new model would stimulate industrial needs, along with increased consumer demands outside of China, while PRC industries would move up the technological ladder and engage more deeply in service and knowledge sectors. It could help deal with overproduction (for iron, steel, aluminium, cement and glass of up to 30 per cent) and facilitate a greater shift into value-added production chains (Grieger 2016; Fukuyama 2016). It would allow for slowing but sustainable growth in a more mature economy (promoted as the ‘new normal’ for China), with China’s unutilized productive capacity and surplus capital shifting to new markets. Hopefully, it would provide ample employment in an economy driven by consumption rather than dangerously dependent on exports (Preston et al. 2016; Geall 2016). It is also possible that Chinese investment in these projects has been partly provoked by slowing yields on their $1 trillion holdings of US Treasury Bonds, with more savings going into infrastructure instead, though this has been a fluctuating trend (Hancock 2017; Luft 2016). Such a shift also poses significant risks if BRI fails, or moves too slowly to stimulate both the Chinese and wider Eurasian economies. Important governance issues are at stake: ‘As China is a major resource producer and both the world’s largest consumer of energy and its largest emitter of greenhouse gases; its economic transition has global ramifications for resource markets, environmental security and resource governance’ (Preston et al. 2016). OBOR, as it was labelled in 2013, had evolved from the fusion of earlier, partly conceived geo-economic projects. These included engaging Central Asian energy providers (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and then Uzbekistan) alongside efforts to improve regional security and border stabilization via the SCO. These agendas evolved into the Silk Road Economic Belt, a loose connection of bilateral and multilateral projects that enhanced Chinese influence across much of Central Asia. In turn, the Maritime Silk Road that was announced in 2013 was revived as an extension of the growing economic and investment activities already enshrined in the ASEAN–China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA). With continued reliance on Middle East oil, expanding sea-based trade through

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the Malacca Strait and across the Indian Ocean, and a need to ensure continued access to these routes, China hoped to boost trade, investment and maritime cooperation across the Indo-Pacific. In doing so it wanted to reduce ‘China threat’ perceptions by creating positive relations with most regional states via a pragmatic ‘win–win’ economic diplomacy. Interconnecting these two roads constituted the basis of OBOR, with its extended networks and inclusive philosophy being retranslated in English as the Belt and Road Initiative. These projects sought legitimation through referencing historical trade routes, the ancient Silk Road and earlier trade networks across Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, emphasizing that this engagement was in some sense a return to ‘normal’ patterns of influence under a strong China. BRI, however, goes beyond this in the linking of diverse developmental and investment projects: in its extended form it is a supra-regional network that would directly sustain the PRC’s trajectory towards the world’s largest economy (across diverse indicators) and indirectly improve the security environment across the entire Indo-Pacific and Eurasian zones. Infrastructure projects under BRI are joining the Central Asian economic belt and the Maritime Silk Road at numerous points, easing China’s perceived Malacca Straits ‘dilemma’. This was the fear expressed under Hu Jintao’s presidency that American and allied naval power could restrict China’s exports and access to energy and resource imports from the Middle East and Africa. OBOR was also planned to increase overland trade with Bangladesh, Myanmar, India, Pakistan and Iran, and to allow China to become a major player in Central Asia’s engagement with south-bound routes onto the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. Key corridors, including China–Central and West Asia Economic Corridor (CCWAEC), the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC), allow north–south connections onto the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and eventually, the Mediterranean. These interconnections supply the logic of one belt, one road, by interconnecting the maritime and overland routes. Some 75 overseas trade and economic special zones in 35 countries are already linked to BRI initiatives, while Chinese companies were involved in 56 of these in over 20 states, though many of these are still in the developmental stages (Xi 2017b; Wade 2016). BRI envisaged extensions of these networks into Russia, eastern and western Europe, the Arctic (via new sea routes) and even secondary loops into West Africa, the South Pacific and Latin America. As such, it engages a widened economic and developmental logic that is compatible with China’s long-term foreign policy frameworks since 1955, as summarized under the ‘Bandung Spirit’ of mutual

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benefit and non-interference (Breuer 2017; Xi 2015; Dellios 2016a). If successful, this would transform the PRC into a ‘developmental superpower’, linking the developed and developing worlds with its own initiatives, finance and policy perspectives.

FROM GEO-ECONOMICS TO GEOPOLITICS As we have seen, BRI evolved from the fusion of earlier geo-economic projects, especially the PRC’s engagement across Central Asia to secure resources and borders, combined with active trade and strategic engagement with Southern Asia and the Indian Ocean to increase access to ports, resources, markets and political influence (expanded from the earlier ‘String of Pearls’ strategy).1 The Maritime Silk Road was revived as an extension of the growing economic and trade patterns between Northeast and Southeast Asia, extending the ASEAN–China Free Trade Agreement and the ongoing Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations (among 16 countries, the ASEAN 10, plus Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, India and New Zealand). Continued reliance on Middle East oil, expanding sea-based trade through the Malacca Strait and across the Indian Ocean, and a need to ensure alternative routes (including future transpolar maritime lanes), has made BRI an essential task for China. Beijing hopes to boost trade, investment and maritime cooperation across the Indo-Pacific, and to ensure trade access to upgraded ports in Xiamen, Chittagong, Colombo, Gwadar, Port Sudan, Suez, Piraeus, Djibouti, Dar Es Salaam (in Tanzania), plus new facilities being developed in East Africa and elsewhere (Breuer 2017). This Silk Road metaphor, strongly mobilized by China in its dialogue with Central Asia, is worth briefly exploring. It references ancient trade routes from China across Central Asia to the Mediterranean, a corridor that flourished from the 3rd century BCE and allowed the transport of prestige goods, ideas, religions and political influence. The route itself was not a continuous one, with different groups controlling key sections of the road. During the expansive periods of the Han and Tang dynasties, China spread its influence westward across these routes, for a short time having control of oasis trading centres across Central Asia. China asserted strong control of the eastern section of the route between 630 CE and 658 CE with the defeat of various Turkic tribes and renewed control over the Tarim Basin and Eastern Turkestan (Franck and Brownstone 1986; Puri 1987). The Huns, Turks and then the Persians came to secure key sectors of the trade route, followed by the Mongols and the Turco-Mongol empire of Timur. Later on the Ottomans conquered

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western segments of the Silk Road, controlling its flows westward until European naval routes were established that bypassed Turkish and Venetian middlemen (Ejaz and Nauman 2016). The past was thus used as a legitimating pattern for a new phase of expansive Chinese development in the 21st century, couched in the win–win terminology of PRC diplomacy. In his announcement of the Maritime Silk Road to the Indonesian parliament on 3 October 2013, Xi Jinping stated that: China is prepared to upgrade the China–ASEAN Free Trade Area and strive to expand two-way trade to one trillion US dollars by 2020. China is committed to greater connectivity with ASEAN countries. China will propose the establishment of an Asian infrastructure investment bank that would give priority to ASEAN countries’ needs. Southeast Asia has since ancient times been an important hub along the ancient Maritime Silk Road. China will strengthen maritime cooperation with ASEAN countries to make good use of the China–ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund set up by the Chinese government and vigorously develop maritime partnership in a joint effort to build the Maritime Silk Road of the 21st century. China is ready to expand its practical cooperation with ASEAN countries across the board, supplying each other’s needs and complementing each other’s strengths, with a view to jointly seizing opportunities and meeting challenges for the benefit of common development and prosperity. (Translated in Wu 2013)

BRI in its first phase focused on frameworks for infrastructure development (roads, rail, ports, pipelines, power stations, communications), followed by efforts at boosting trade, joint manufacturing ventures and extended patterns of multilateral investment. At first an exercise in ‘geo-economics’, it has serious flow-on strategic and political implications. It extends Chinese influence and leverage, expands the PRC’s bilateral and multilateral engagements, and in some cases may allow enhanced military cooperation, either by access to Indian Ocean ports for the PLA Navy, or by security cooperation with Central Asian, South Asian and African states for these projects. Operating as a mechanism for Eurasian connectivity and interregional engagement across adjacent regions, it could give Beijing a privileged role in shaping a mega-region comprising over 60 countries, 4.4 billion people and 30–40 per cent of global GDP (Gill 2017; Craw 2017). On this basis a successful BRI will lift China’s comprehensive national power and provide it with strong geopolitical credentials as the prime mover in Eurasian affairs (Ferguson and Dellios 2017, pp. 173–9). China over the last two decades has emerged as a global power with increasing economic and hard power credentials, followed by still moderate but real soft power potentials. In the case of Eurasia, China has hard power assets

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in terms of its modernizing military, its ability to contribute to SCO ‘peace missions’, and an increasing engagement with large and small states in bilateral exercises, usually framed as dealing with nontraditional security threats (see Chapter 2). However, its deployment of military force overseas has mainly been conducted through UN-mandated or multilateral peacekeeping exercises, or via limited naval deployments in the Indian Ocean. This stands in direct contrast to the geopolitical brinksmanship of Russia, seeking to blunt NATO expansion by its deployment of military force against Georgia, the Crimea, and indirectly against Ukraine. Russia in one survey was assessed as the second-most influential nation globally in terms of its ability to project influence on the world stage, though otherwise its ‘soft power’ ratings remained low (US News 2016; Portland 2015; see Chapter 5). At the same time, this assertiveness has made Russia the target of US, EU and German sanctions, and reinvigorated NATO to find new means to reassure its members against the Russian ‘threat’. The use of hard power, therefore, has been a costly and entangling affair, leaving Russia with a problematic eastern border with Ukraine, the need to support unrecognized territories in its sphere of control (Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia), and problems in sustaining military spending during a period of ongoing sanctions and negative or slow growth. China’s more cautious use of its military capabilities may rebound to its benefit in terms of influence across Central Asia and Eastern Europe, with a greater willingness of these states to forge closer relations with the PRC (see further below). For China, its main assets rest on geo-economic advances that aid its soft power and its long-term economic and diplomatic influence. The question remains, however, as to whether this geo-economic strategy will eventually be leveraged into sustained political influence, first within the SCO, then across a wider Eurasia and eventually at the global level. Linkages through Africa and the Middle East are now being developed, allowing for an early phase of infrastructure investment with states such as Egypt, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique (for planned financing for ports and railways across east and west Africa, see Breuer 2017). Eventually, these new projects will terminate in Europe, greatly enhancing relations with the EU and its main states (especially Germany, Italy, France and the UK), but also making a considerable impact on smaller states in East Europe and the Mediterranean, including Moldova, Hungary, Serbia, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Greece (Johnson 2015b and 2016; Verlare and Van der Putten 2015). Likewise, BRI has serious implications for China’s relations within the wider Pacific and Indo-Pacific. Australia was willing, after some initial

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hesitation, to invest in the AIIB, but was cautious of deeper engagement with BRI projects. Leadership talks in April 2016 suggested that increased investment from China could allow ‘alignment’ of BRI with Australia’s own northern development initiatives (Raby 2016). Australia sees BRI as having significant influence in Africa and Oceania, as well as an impact on its own ports and northern infrastructure, with government and industry reports suggesting a wide range of mutual opportunities. However, in spite of public and corporate enthusiasm, as well as the formation of working groups exploring linking BRI and the Developing Northern Australia initiative from early 2016, Australia decided in March 2017 not to formally ‘sign on’ to the mega-project, perhaps due to US pressure (Laurenceson 2017; Wade 2016; ACOBORI 2016).2 This is in stark contrast with the New Zealand signing of a limited MOU on BRI cooperation during a visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in May 2017. Although New Zealand might seem somewhat outside the main geopolitical scope of these projects, Wellington used the agreement to push for heightened trade flows with China (targeted at NZ$30 billion [US$21.3 billion] bilaterally by 2020), and as an opportunity to ‘upgrade and modernize’ the China–NZ Free Trade Agreement (2008), hoping to expand investment flows and enhance multilateral cooperation in other international forums (SIC 2017). Australia’s reluctance to commit further to the BRI, stated as due to concerns over transparency and developmental outcomes, led to a barrage of public criticism, suggesting that the best way to mitigate these problems was through greater engagement, thereby entrenching good practices (Laurenceson 2017). India also remains concerned by the impact of BRI on Indian Ocean dynamics, and rejects the strategic implications of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is likely to entrench the status quo of disputed territories in Kashmir (see below). Even if India, Australia, Japan and the US remain critical of the quality and intentions of BRI, they will need to adjust to its serious geo-strategic outcomes. This geo-economic agenda provides the greatest opportunity for China to enhance its power and influence at supra-regional and global levels, operating along diverse corridors of enhanced interaction. The ‘economic corridor’ idea itself is the main means of development within the BRI framework. Transport and connectivity backbones, export processing and special economic zones, industrial parks, ‘smart cities’ and new energy production networks are linked together along transnational geographical routes (Uberoi 2016). BRI will at first focus on six of these:

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Eurasian Land Bridge; China–Mongolia–Russia; China–Central Asia–West Asia; China–Indochina Peninsula; China–Pakistan; Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar (NDRC 2015, III. Framework, para. 3).

Added to this, PRC planners have also identified a China–India–Nepal Economic Corridor, extended European and African networks, along with key maritime routes that extend beyond the Maritime Silk Road, including a Silk Ice Road, a Pacific ‘loop’ (the China–Oceania–South Pacific passage) designed to engage island communities, plus new partnerships in Latin America (PRC 2017a; see further below). We can see the interactions of geo-economics and geopolitics in BRI by taking a moment to assess two of the major corridors.3 The first of these is the Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC), a land route of around 2800 kilometres with added maritime routes to the south, linking 440 million people in the landlocked provinces of south-west China with eastern and north-east India, Myanmar and Bangladesh (Uberoi 2016; Sajjanhar 2016). This hybrid (‘amphibious’) route involves not just development along the Kolkata to Kunming highway, but sea, river and rail links from centres such as Mandalay, Sittwe and Paletwa to India, with projected infrastructure upgrades in the order of $22 billion (Chau 2017). It began as part of the earlier Kunming Initiative (Track II process) from 1999 and the later BCIM Regional Cooperation Forum, which sought to create a cooperation zone that would boost development in poorer parts of these countries. BCIM-EC has been endorsed by India but it remains cautious of any ‘re-scripting’ of this pattern of regional cooperation under BRI and Chinese imperatives (Ruff 2017). BCIM-EC remains strongly supported by PRC and the Yunnan provincial government as part of its ‘West Development Project’ and ‘going out’ framework of the ‘new normal’ economy. It parallels earlier ASEAN and Asian Development Bank projects for the Greater Mekong region, but with considerable PRC input into infrastructure development (Uberoi 2016). This corridor would be physical and electronic: improving connectivity through roads, railways, waterways, air-links and digital connectivity, allowing ‘trade facilitation and lowering barriers for smooth and seamless movement of goods, services, investment and people’ (Sajjanhar 2016). Negotiations have been continuing from 2016, with four countries seeking to finalize proposals for further integration of trade

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and investment. If successful, it would boost trade among the four member states, but especially between India and the PRC if a free trade agreement can be concluded to lift their $70 billion in bilateral trade, even if trust has been slow to accrue (Ruff 2017; Sajjanhar 2016). Although formal talks on the BCIM-EC stalled for a time, partly due to Indian concerns and internal opposition to externally driven megaprojects, BCIM is still likely to benefit less developed states such as Myanmar and Bangladesh if properly managed (Rana 2017; Chau 2017; Aneja 2016). Unfortunately, this project has been caught up in tendencies toward geopolitical competition, still very much viewed in the perspective of a ‘Sino-Indian Great Game’ (Eng 2016; Garlick 2017). A more controversial corridor is the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), announced by President Xi Jinping during a visit to Islamabad in April 2015. This project leapt into the spotlight with ‘numerous memoranda of understanding for infrastructure development along the corridor, focused particularly on the power and transportation sectors’ with China committing over US$46 billion in investments by 2030 (Uberoi 2016). This corridor leads from Kashgar in western China along a number of roads, terminating at the major port of Gwadar on Pakistan’s southern coast, thereby linking western China onto the Indian Ocean and its ‘String of Pearls’. Major roads, pipelines, port development, power stations and new fibre optic communications networks are part of the project. China and Pakistan are also planning to gain improved land-surveying information from a new satellite launched for this purpose, part of an expanded BRI space-information network (Pekkanen 2017; see further below). Overall, this corridor has led to increased investment in Pakistan, including investment in more efficient coal-fired power plants and coal mining projects (Snelder 2016; Preston et al. 2016). CPEC also runs through Pakistan’s tribal areas and then south into troubled Balochistan (Western Pakistan), terminating at Gwadar port. It therefore links onto the Maritime Silk Road projects, whereby Chinese ships (merchant and naval) can gain increased access to Indian Ocean ports. It has been argued that the project remains largely PRC funded (upgraded from $46 to $56 billion), with Chinese companies being the main operators along its special economic zones and port areas, leaving Pakistan with a large and ongoing debt (Roy 2017). The CPEC agenda has been rejected by India, which is concerned that BRI will entrench the PRC’s role in the Indian Ocean, support Pakistan economically (55 per cent of FDI into Pakistan is from China), and build permanent infrastructure in disputed areas of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan (Ruff 2017; Zaidi 2016). CPEC indirectly supports Pakistan’s claims to disputed areas, which will be more integrated in

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Pakistan’s national economy. Pakistan has had to provide considerable security for CPEC and the Karakoram Highway, via the forming of a Special Security Division with 12 000 to 15 000 personnel dedicated for this purpose (Roy 2017; Hancock 2017; Boh 2015). Expanded investment in Balochistan may intensify independence tensions if locals do not gain from growth generated from the project (see Dellios and Ferguson 2017). Since 2004 local groups, led by the United Baloch Army, have fought for improved rights and self-determination. They may now come under increased pressure from police or the military due to the need to protect CPEC, with exiled Baloch groups leading protests against it in spite of claimed benefits to its poor population (Shafqat 2017; Economist 2015). Baloch fighters have already conducted attacks on Chinese workers and projects, with no indication that these will cease. Security around Gwadar port has been upgraded, with China Shipbuilding Trade Co. providing two patrol boats to the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency, while Pakistan’s Navy has assembled Special Task Force 88 to ensure sea-lane security (Eisenham and Stewart 2017; Ved 2016; Markey and West 2016). It is not surprising that CPEC projects are controversial even within Pakistan: ‘Extensive squabbling among Pakistan’s political parties, the military, and local community leaders continues to delay the implementation of numerous CPEC projects’ (Eisenham and Stewart 2017). India was invited to join the Maritime Silk Road in February 2014. It accepted the general idea of cooperation but requested further details before concrete ventures could begin in earnest. India feared being ‘left out or left behind’: it therefore joined the AIIB and became its second largest shareholder but was cautious of PRC unilateralism in BRI as a whole (Feigenbaum 2017). Specific concerns included the level of consultation, with no clear organization or constitution structure in BRI itself (as distinct from the multilateral governance structure of the AIIB; see Chapter 8). BCIM-EC, along with the extension of the Delhi– Mumbai Economic corridor, were seen at first as more of an opportunity than a threat, but serious concerns remained. Fears of being swamped by cheap Chinese goods have been aired through 2014–17, though with the Indian rupee depreciating in relation to the RMB, Indian manufacturing and medicines had become more competitive (Bhoothalingam 2016). Additionally, fears emerged that CPEC could undermine one of India’s developmental projects, the International North–South Transport Corridor, running from Chabahar in Iran (about 150 kilometres west of Pakistan) to Central Asia and Afghanistan (Zaidi 2016; Brewster 2016). CPEC, as has become apparent, needs to manage a wide number of political, security and development issues to avoid such dilemmas for prospective partners – as we will see shortly.

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New Delhi is not standing idly by but is expanding its own engagement with the Indian Ocean. This may be seen in its naval upgrades (aimed at eventually having three operational carrier groups) and via its Blue Ocean Agenda, Project Mausam, the coast Sagarmala scheme, and Spice Route investment projects (Rana 2017; Garlick 2017). India is developing an extended maritime awareness system across the Indian Ocean that includes building surveillance radars in Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, linked to India’s coastline and an ‘analysis center’ (Mohan 2015). Combined economic, developmental and security imperatives have since been unified under India’s regional SAGAR concept, that is, ‘security and growth for all the region’, playing on the term sagar as the Sanskrit for ocean (Jaishankar 2016). Likewise, its Act East, Trilateral Highway project and Neighbourhood First policies were seen as giving India a stronger role with Bangladesh, Myanmar and ASEAN. India is also shifting this agenda further towards interregion cooperation, for instance via the idea of an Asia–Africa Growth Corridor, with the African Development Bank, India and Japan being major sponsors (Singh 2017; MEA 2017). These projects have not been coordinated with China’s Maritime Silk Road, with little bilateral dialogue of how these initiatives might work together and limited coordination of trilateral investment in third countries. For all these reasons, India did not attend the May 2017 Belt and Road Forum hosted by Xi Jinping. Instead, a public statement was made from India’s Ministry of External Affairs, arguing that its core concerns of sovereignty and territorial integrity had been ignored, and that: We are of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality. Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities; balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards; transparent assessment of project costs; and skill and technology transfer to help long term running and maintenance of the assets created by local communities. Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity. India shares international community’s desire for enhancing physical connectivity and believes that it should bring greater economic benefits to all in an equitable and balanced manner. We are working with many countries and international institutions in support of physical and digital connectivity in our own immediate and near neighbourhood. (MEA 2017)

Put simply, China is the largest but not the only geopolitical actor that will shape BRI and its Indo-Pacific linkages in the long term. India,

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Russia, Iran and ASEAN collectively remain important players, alongside new networks being formed in the Middle East and Africa. If successful, BRI as a set of mega-projects might well stand comparison in general terms with other great engines of change, such as the Bretton Woods system (with the creation of the IMF and World Bank), the early evolution of the European Union, or the Marshall Plan. It is larger but less ideologically driven than the Marshall Plan, but can be compared with the early economic integration of the EU or the early hopes for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as a regional agenda with global geopolitical implications (Shen 2016b). However, exactly how BRI is conducted, and the way it succeeds or fails in part or whole, will have serious implications for security and development across Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific. One of the real dangers to emerge is that BRI outcomes may trigger resentment as another form of ‘neo-imperialism’ perpetuating a paternalistic type of political and economic dependency, thereby eroding good governance (Miller 2017; Subbarao and Tieri 2017). Related fears include increased levels of national debt, and public concerns, even if unfounded, over the impact on wage inequality and job insecurity (Li and Schmerer 2017). This means that funding, followthrough and concerted multilateral governance will need to be carefully managed if BRI is to serve China’s needs in the long term, let alone the developmental demands of its many partners.

OVER-FUNDING OR UNDER-FUNDING THE BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE OBOR, as BRI was then known, at first elicited cynicism from several overseas commentators. Its initial funding was well below total Asian infrastructure needs as suggested by the ADB, with estimated needs rising from $750 billion a year (for the 2010–20 period) to $1.7 billion a year (for 2016–30), totalling some $26 trillion (ADB 2017b; Bhattacharyay 2010). The venture has been criticized as a desperate gamble to paper over emerging problems in China’s developmental model, as a propaganda prop used by the Chinese Communist Party, and as a geopolitical tool designed to undermine US hegemony and limit Japanese and Western economic influence (Kaplan 2016; Shen 2016b). More specifically, it has also been seen as China’s answer to the US rebalance (‘pivot’) to Asia, including the TPP agenda. Critical voices have claimed that its overarching aim ‘is to isolate the US by bringing Asia, Africa and Europe under its own economic and geo-strategic umbrella’ (Sajjanhar 2016). More specifically, it could flood involved

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countries with cheaper Chinese manufactures, increase existing deficits, and create long-term debt traps for poorer countries, for example in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, but less so India (Subbarao and Tieri 2017; Sajjanhar 2016). The PRC’s wider strategic goals, however, may be to change the rules of engagement between great powers, with BRI as an engine of Eurasian transformation. A successful BRI would embrace three continents, and make any idea of strategic or economic containment of China impossible (Dellios 2017). Chinese strategic and political culture often moves from the general to the specific, using a catchy slogan as propaganda and PR, but later on fills these out into widely based policies, for example ‘Peaceful Rise’, ‘Harmonious World’, and Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’ have all adhered to this pattern (Dellios and Ferguson 2013). Government agencies, ministries and think tanks are then tasked with developing policies, which are selectively authorized by the leaders in the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council (the chief administrative body with all the heads of ministries and main agencies). Thereafter, such policies are embedded in numerous government agencies and commissions, shaping their activities and spending. If not quite an ‘all-ofgovernment’ approach, BRI has become a major focus of China’s leadership, for several ministries and commissions (including foreign affairs, the National Development and Reform Commission, commerce, plus diverse defence and border control agencies), major Chinese banks, and large Chinese corporations (see further below). BRI rapidly moved from being a grandly conceived initiative toward specifying funding mechanisms, creating regulatory frameworks, and has been embedded across numerous bilateral agreements and strategic partnerships (Cao and Gong 2016; Dong et al. 2016). Funding of over $890 billion has been targeted for the first phase of BRI, with the China Development Bank and China’s Export-Import Bank being major investors (Kynge 2016). BRI projects of around $230–250 billion may be drawn in the near future from several institutions including the Silk Road Infrastructure Fund (SRF), the AIIB and the BRICS New Development Bank. The new AIIB is seen as an important early funding mechanism with a growing membership of 84 countries (as of December 2017), many of whom lie along BRI’s main economic corridors. The AIIB initially hoped to bring $10 billion into BRI projects by 2018, but aims to rapidly build the fund to the targeted $100 billion level, with over $93 billion accrued as of October 2017 (AIIB 2017). There were already signs from 2016 that the Asian Development Bank would be willing to work on shared projects with the AIIB, making the

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two multilateral banks complementary rather than competing developmental mechanisms (Preston et al. 2016; Uberoi 2016). The $40 billion Silk Road Infrastructure Fund (SRF) is also dedicated to an early start on BRI projects, with funding already going into Pakistan and Russian energy projects, and 2015 investment into the China International Capital Corporation and the China Energy Engineering Corporation via Hong Kong markets (Dong et al. 2016). In May 2017 Xi Jinping outlined further funding to be made available by China, but with an emphasis on multilateral financing and cooperation: China will scale up financing support for the Belt and Road Initiative by contributing an additional RMB 100 billion to the Silk Road Fund, and we encourage financial institutions to conduct overseas RMB fund business with an estimated amount of about RMB 300 billion. The China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China will set up special lending schemes respectively worth RMB 250 billion equivalent and RMB 130 billion equivalent to support Belt and Road cooperation on infrastructure, industrial capacity and financing. We will also work with the AIIB, the BRICS New Development Bank, the World Bank and other multilateral development institutions to support Belt and Road related projects. We will work with other parties concerned to jointly formulate guidelines for financing the Belt and Road related development projects. (Xi 2017b)

A wide range of Chinese institutions will be involved in the long run: beyond China’s Central Bank, the China Development Bank (CDB, the largest BRI investor in 2016), and the Export-Import Bank of China, China’s Energy Development Fund ($20 billion), the China–ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund (about $20 billion), the China Construction Bank and Agricultural Development Bank of China (ADBC) (Wildau and Ma 2017; Grieger 2016; Preston et al. 2016). Likewise, China’s sovereign wealth fund (about $746 billion) and its strong foreign exchange reserves (about $3.16 trillion as of September 2017), may be used to invest in higher yielding assets than US Treasury Bonds, with hopes that BRI will boost trade to around $2.5 trillion dollars within the decade (Grieger 2016). There have already been claims that such investment will provide major advantages for Chinese companies and SOEs, but there have been criticisms of Beijing’s system of state-led investment as being inefficient and creating its own pattern of toxic loans and low completion rates of international projects, for example in finishing infrastructure projects in Indonesia and Poland (Dibb and Lee 2014). Total investment, from diverse nations, banks and the private sector has been estimated at over

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$4–8 trillion in the coming three decades as new routes and branches are added to the BRI framework (Ruff 2017; Luft 2016). Early funds actually deployed remained well below the infrastructure needs ‘gap’ of the Eurasian region, as estimated by the Asian Development Bank (see above), highlighting the requirement for further investment and corporate uptake of BRI and related initiatives (Dong et al. 2016; Brewster 2015; Escobar 2015a and 2015b). Thus actual outbound FDI to BRI states fell 2 per cent in 2016 and slowed through early 2017, while Chinese exports to these countries fell slightly from 2014 to 2016 at the same time as BRI engineering and construction contracts doubled from 4000 to 8000 (Wildau and Ma 2017). It is difficult to interpret these early figures, but the slowing of the PRC economy, government caution on poor outward bound investments and capital flight may have contributed to this scenario. Initial delays in returns from BRI investments may indicate that it will take time for economic cycles to establish a new domestic and regional ‘normal’ of shared economic gains (Woo 2017; Bradsher 2017). For BRI to succeed it will need careful investment and risk management, successful and completed projects, and sustained funding beyond the PRC’s national resources. There has already been some shift towards the use of infrastructure public–private partnerships (promoted by China’s National Development and Reform Commission and by agreements made at the Silk Road Forum in May 2017), as well as the syndication of projects, drawing in pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, and private investment, in some cases offering 6–8 per cent in long-term returns (Sugden 2017; Kynge 2016). We can further assess BRI projects along three axes. First, a brief exploration of some of these projects will show BRI’s ambitious scope. Older projects have been pulled into the BRI framework, while new ventures have been specifically promoted under its banner, tapping into AIIB funds, the Silk Road Infrastructure Fund (SRF), the Export-Import Bank of China, the China Development Bank, and China’s large, state-owned commercial banks, with $292 billion in outstanding loans and equity investment as of late 2016 (Wildau and Ma 2017). Second, the pay-off for China is not limited to boosting trade and returns on investment. It also aims to provide future economic stability and an enhanced influence and cooperation that stretches across three continents. In other words, a successful BRI would turn China into a geopolitical powerhouse linked to dynamic Indo-Pacific and Eurasian spheres of growth. Third, for BRI to succeed it will need not only careful investment and completed projects, but social, environmental and political sustainability (explored below).

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Individual projects for the Silk Road Economic Belt began as early as May 2014 with a Sino-Kazakhstan jointly constructed logistics terminal going into operation in the rail ‘port’ of Lianyungang in east Jiangsu province. It was planned as a platform for goods from Central Asian countries to reach external markets from South Korea to Belarus, with an entire new business district being developed – though with limited uptake of capacity through 2017 (Iwanek 2017). Connectivity to distant markets remains important for a country such as Kazakhstan, which considers itself at the heart of the Silk Road but which is also aware of its landlocked position in the centre of Eurasia. Another early investment project was Pakistan’s $1.98 billion 720-MW Karot hydro-power project in Kashmir, announced in April 2015, financed by the Silk Road Fund and designed to contribute to Pakistan’s growing demand for energy. It is part of a wider $6 billion portfolio with three hydro and three solar plants run by China Three Gorges South Asia Investment, with some of these projects being completed by 2021–24 (Bloomberg 2017; Kiani 2016). Although seen as essential in securing a reliable local power supply and future economic development, it has been criticized in India as environmentally unsound and entrenching Pakistan’s control of disputed territory (see above). Myanmar also hopes to benefit from BRI projects, with improved gas and oil pipelines to run into south-west China. Associated projects will include new roads, gas terminals, offshore production plants, compression stations and upgraded pipelines. This will increase long-term economic engagement for Myanmar as it opens up to a wider circle of partners after its initial phase of democratic reform. In future Yunnan may purchase electricity from new power grids built in Myanmar, linking parts of northern Burma to China’s dynamic economy. Extensive railways are planned between Yunnan and Myanmar, part of wider plans for linking southern China and Southeast Asia, with the Greater Mekong Rail Association involved from 2014 (Zhu 2015). Plans have also been made to develop the Dawei Special Economic Zone (DSEZ) in southern Myanmar. It is close to the border with Thailand and has generated interest from Chinese, Burmese, Thai and Italian companies to develop port facilities, power plants and an LNG terminal, but had limited funding until it was linked to the BRI agenda (Freiman et al. 2016). China also intends to invest in railways linking Xinjiang and Kabul, aiding development and resource access in and from Afghanistan, with the promise of $100 million in grants. However, there are doubts about the security of this investment and related projects until the political situation stabilizes in Afghanistan (Preston et al. 2016). China has already been involved in expanding railway links through Kazakhstan, as

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well as having plans for new railways through Kyrgyzstan that could be crucial in integrating the northern and southern parts of that country. This is part of a much larger railway network envisaged as a Eurasian Land Bridge to Europe with higher cargo volumes than are possible on the already tapped out trans-Siberian railway. The Land Bridge takes less than three weeks, compared to the five weeks for sea routes, avoids the Malacca Straits security dilemma, and would have several lines linking China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Eastern Europe, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and eventually France, Spain and possibly Georgia (Arduino 2016a; Shepherd 2016; Luft 2016). Such rail links would be particularly beneficial for landlocked countries, but also for high value or timesensitive goods (sea-based container shipping remains cheaper, if slower, at this stage). To these have been added other rail projects similar to the ‘Jakarta–Bandung high-speed railway, China–Laos railway, Addis Ababa–Djibouti railway and Hungary–Serbia railway’ as part of the BRI framework (Xi 2017b). BRI will also deepen Asian linkages and investment through much of the Middle East, including Turkey, with lingering political tensions over the treatment of Uighur groups in the PRC being eased with renewed dialogue with the Erdogan government (Ehteshami and Horesh 2017; Brodie 2017). China has already invested $177.5 billion in the Middle East and North African region, while in 2016 an extra $15 billion was offered in special loans to boost industrial production, plus $10 billion in trade credits for energy projects, and $10 billion in soft loans. This has allowed an early phase of enhanced dialogue with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Ethiopia, with most Gulf states being members of AIIB, 50 BRI projects already underway in the wider region, and 21 agreements signed with Egypt alone in 2016. Egyptian deals included $1.7 billion in financing for infrastructure, transport and electricity, while total investments could rise beyond $15 billion. China also plans to deepen its engagement in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, a 190-kilometre-long zone where 32 Chinese companies have invested $400 million, but this could rise to 100 firms investing $2.5 billion in the medium term (Ehteshami and Horesh 2017; Noueihed and Abdelaty 2016; Xinhua 2016a; Al-Tamimi 2017). Chinese planners already began to outline an integrated energy and resource strategy from 2015: We should increase cooperation in the exploration and development of coal, oil, gas, metal minerals and other conventional energy sources; advance cooperation in hydropower, nuclear power, wind power, solar power and other clean, renewable energy sources; and promote cooperation in the processing

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and conversion of energy and resources at or near places where they are exploited, so as to create an integrated industrial chain of energy and resource cooperation. (NDRC 2015)

This remains one of the main drivers of BRI planning. It helps China gain secure access to diversified resources and energy across Eurasia, as well as greater engagement in these states as markets. In 2014 China gained 22 per cent of its resources from Asia and Central Asia and 20 per cent from the Middle East and North Africa, with the Silk Road Economic Belt providing greater resource security and increased access to non-Middle Eastern gas and oil (Preston et al. 2016). Countries linked to BRI have major global resources: over 15 per cent of global oil, over 50 per cent of global gas, 25 per cent of coal, 20 per cent of iron ore, plus considerable resources of bauxite, zinc, copper and nickel (Preston et al. 2016). The mega-project will also act as a stimulus for Chinese exports: steel plants and construction firms will benefit first, but there are also plans to build 30 nuclear power plants in these countries by 2030 (mainly by China National Nuclear Corp), as well as major solar power ($1.5 billion), hydro-power ($1.6 billion), and some wind-power plants for the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (Freiman et al. 2016; Markey and West 2016; Bader 2015). Overall, BRI enhances China’s Great Western Development project and will increase transboundary economic development in Xinjiang and Yunnan, strengthening their role as transport corridors and trans-shipment centres. This turns the ‘inner borders’ of China into new trade hubs, looking out onto adjacent, underdeveloped regions. Thus Yunnan will gain from stimulating development in the poorer countries of ASEAN and the Bay of Bengal’s BIMSTEC group,4 while Xinjiang returns to its ancient ‘trade-gateway’ role with the emerging economies of Central Asia (see further Chapter 1). Beyond this, BRI also includes the idea of financial integration: carrying out multilateral financial cooperation via syndicated loans and cross-border RMB loan settlements, with supporting foreign countries to issue RMB denominated bonds (Grieger 2016). It thereby encourages Chinese companies and banks to engage in foreign expansion and investment with joint projects in BRI countries, for example cement companies investing in Southeast Asia and machinery makers investing in Uzbekistan (Dong et al. 2016). China has large reserves of foreign currency (over $3.16 trillion) and from 2013 became a major capital and investment exporting country, with RMB increasingly used in BRI investments and commodity settlements. From 2015 international financial institutions were increasingly using RMB for payments, including 35 per cent of those making payments to the PRC, while RMB is often used

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in Central Asia and Singapore as part of current investment trends (Shen 2016b; Kai 2016a; Zhu 2015; Chan 2015). However, long-term losses financially could blow back onto the Chinese economy if these investments are not well managed. Many of the infrastructure projects are only profitable due to cheap loans from China (often in the range of 2–4 per cent accompanied by long grace and maturation periods), with concerns over levels of risk for the investors, banks and the countries involved – including some increase in nonperforming and stressed loans during 2014–17 (Zhang and Miller 2017; Garcia-Herrero 2017). If a project fails, is delayed or suspended, then losses will be experienced by the involved banks, transnational companies, national businesses and local communities. Poor risk and environmental assessments can lead to increased social and political risk; for example Chinese investment in the Colombo port project of $1.4 billion was halted due to negative environmental impact studies after a new president was elected, followed by further protests in January 2017, though others noted that India also wished to impede the PRC’s influence in Sri Lanka (Balázs 2017; Zhu 2015). Long-term cumulative exposure will need to be carefully monitored both by Chinese institutions and collectively by national governments to avoid public discontent and political instability caused by sovereign, currency and economiccontagion risks (Cao and Gong 2016). If the Chinese economy continues to slow and efforts to restrict capital flight increase, then under-funding in future years could stall completion of many large-scale projects. This would lead to a lack of investor confidence and a freeze on improved political relations due to lack of follow through on China’s side. Public hostility to major Chinese projects has already been expressed in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and to some degree in Europe, suggesting that public perceptions of BRI, the level of Chinese control and perceived lack of transparency need further calibration (Balázs 2017). In the May 2017 Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Xi did admit that there was a temporary bottleneck in raising capital, but also promised to inject over $113 billion of extra Chinese funds for BRI in the coming years (Xi 2017b; Cai 2017; see further below). Moreover, strong funding driven by a geopolitical or politicized agenda could be as disastrous as a lack of funds. This could emerge as a kind of virtual ‘over-funding’, with attendant waste, bad loans, uncompleted projects, and the scope for increased corruption. The scale of Chinese investment in Pakistan and Myanmar seems driven to an extent by strategic considerations, with economic losses of up to 50–80 per cent estimated for some projects (Snelder 2016; Preston et al. 2016). The

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ability of poor, underdeveloped or fragile states to absorb and manage such funding is limited, both in terms of government and societal capacity. Beyond this, there are related considerations: rapid, top-down mega-projects can lead to uneven, exclusive patterns of development with numerous unintended consequences. These include inflation, an increased wealth gap, over-dependence on primary exports and systematic corruption. The rise of non-traditional security concerns and unsustainable forms of development could undermine the wider BRI agenda before it has time to mature (see further below). There are also risks that BRI might compete not just with the slowing TPP agenda (down-sized with the 2017 US exit) but with the EEU, which Putin has seen as increasingly important for bolstering Russian regional and global influence since 2014. Coordination between the potentially competing EEU and BRI projects has begun with investment directed towards northern transcontinental rail and energy linkages. This enhances connectivity among Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China as a new Continental Economic Partnership, evolving from 2016 as an extension of the original China–Mongolia–Russia corridor with the SCO as a coordinating organization (Rambler News Service 2016; Standish 2015b; Albert 2015). Moscow has tried to develop geopolitical synergies with BRI, politically folding it into its own idea of a ‘Greater Eurasia’ and more recently the Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP), a project supported in general terms by Kazakhstan and Belarus. GEP was developed in part by a Russian political scientist from the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, Sergei Karaganov, debated widely in academic and foreign policy circles, and influenced President Putin’s ‘look east’ agenda (Karaganov 2016b; Sakwa 2017; see Chapter 5 above). Pretexted on the idea of strong relations among China, Russia, the EEU, SCO and ASEAN, the concept gained support through the Sino-Russian joint statement of 25 June 2016, establishing a comprehensive Eurasian partnership (with a follow-on feasibility study from 2017), and the Sochi Declaration of 2016, exploring the possibility of a future EEU–ASEAN FTA along with enhanced political and security cooperation (Li 2017; MOFCOM 2017; ASEAN 2016). Such a putative grouping officially is not designed to balance or compete with China but to work with the PRC. However, the Greater Eurasian Partnership does suggest a desire to create a map of Russian influence that overlaps the BRI footprint. GEP would need to evolve its own standards, norms, financial system and concrete road map to sustain itself as an effective grouping (Li 2017). Russia has had input into several BRI-related Eurasian projects including the future prospect of active hubs of rail and energy cooperation among the two Koreas, Siberia and Mongolia. EEU cross-funding

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mechanisms have already been set up to reduce the impact of EEU external tariffs for transhipment hubs such as Kyrgyzstan, though these will benefit government more than business groups in the short term (Leonard 2015; Bowring 2014). Likewise, special economic zones (SEZs), an idea borrowed from China’s experience, are now spreading through the Eurasian zone, including several in Russia itself, with two in Siberia and one in St Petersburg, alongside Vladivostok as a free port (Flikke 2016). Overall, however, though early Russian pipelines and railways remain crucial backbones for Eurasian connectivity, they are being increasingly augmented by links eastward into China, mobilizing BRI funds and expertise (Ellis 2015). We can gain a sense of the mixed progress of BRI through the international reaction to the Belt and Road International Forum for International Cooperation, held in Beijing in mid-May 2017. President Putin used this occasion to link BRI with a wider set of Eurasian integrative projects: We welcome China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. By proposing this initiative, President Xi Jinping has demonstrated an example of a creative approach toward fostering integration in energy, infrastructure, transport, industry and humanitarian collaboration, about which I have just talked at length. I believe that by adding together the potential of all the integration formats like the EAEU, the OBOR, the SCO and the ASEAN, we can build the foundation for a larger Eurasian partnership. This is the approach that, we believe, should be applied to the agenda proposed today by the People’s Republic of China. We would welcome the involvement of our European colleagues from the EU states in this partnership. This would make it truly concordant, balanced and all encompassing, and will allow us to realise a unique opportunity to create a common cooperation framework from the Atlantic to the Pacific – for the first time in history. (Putin 2017)

This statement was made just after Putin criticized protectionism, interventionism and unilateralism being enacted within the international system, a comment clearly directed against the US. In his speech he went on to suggest that the BRI would develop alongside the expanding Northeast Maritime Passage and priority development of the Russian Far East and Siberia. Putin then argued that this ‘partnership must shift the political and economic landscape of the continent and bring peace, stability, prosperity and a new quality of life to Eurasia’ (Putin 2017). The logic of BRI does not stop at economic gain and profit: it also has

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clear geo-economic and geopolitical goals, scripted somewhat differently by Russian and Chinese diplomacy. At the same time, we should not exaggerate this Forum’s diplomatic success. Over a hundred states and organizations sent delegations, along with over a thousand delegates in total. The UN Secretary-General António Gutteres attended, as did the heads of the IMF and the World Bank (Huang 2017; Tiezzi 2017). However, not all countries responded well to the agenda of the Belt and Road International Forum. India, as we have seen, publicly rejected the impact of the CPEC corridor on disputed territories in Pakistan, remaining concerned about a lack of transparency and need to discuss governance rules (MEA 2017). Even though it was organized as a summit process, leaders from India, the US and Australia did not attend, with only 30 leaders (including 20 from BRI states) present. Forty-four states sent other high-level delegations, some at ministerial level, for example France, Finland, Iran, Romania and Saudi Arabia. However, many Eastern European, Central and Southeast Asian states were represented by presidents and prime ministers, for example Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Philippines and Pakistan. Even some countries not directly engaged in the BRI sent representatives. The United States sent a National Security Council senior director for Asia, while Japan was represented by its ruling party Liberal Democratic Party SecretaryGeneral (Huang 2017; The Diplomat 2017). Most European states did attend, many at a high level, but as a group the majority of EU states refused to sign the final communiqué due to concerns about limited transparency and the lack of open tenders for infrastructure projects (Huang 2017). On the other hand, 30 countries did sign the Forum’s joint communiqué, endorsing the infrastructure role of BRI in delivering increased and inclusive growth, environmental protection, increased cooperation and stability (Belt and Road Forum 2017; Cai 2017). The Belt and Road International Forum is planned to take place again in 2019, indicating the beginnings of a wider dialogue process that could emerge as an informal multilateral governance mechanism, alongside the loose political role of the SCO and the norms of the investing multilateral banks. A major step in this direction has been an initial phase of coordination between the BRI and the Development and Analysis division of the UN (whose representatives were invited to the Forum), designed to deepen linkages with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, with capacity development projects for Central Asia being funded for 2018–19 (Hong 2017; see further below). The link to sustainable development is seen as a key mechanism to ensure positive

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societal and security outcomes, expressed as a ‘sustainable security’ agenda in Xi Jinping’s opening remarks at the Forum (Xi 2017b).

SECURITY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT BRI contains within itself an implicit model for development that is linked to supporting security through economic gains, but needs strong interstate cooperation to function. Aside from these general factors, it has serious implications for border management, trade flows and economic regionalism as outlined by China’s National Development and Reform Commission: We should improve the customs clearance facilities of border ports, establish a ‘single-window’ in border ports, reduce customs clearance costs, and improve customs clearance capability. We should increase cooperation in supply chain safety and convenience, improve the coordination of crossborder supervision procedures, promote online checking of inspection and quarantine certificates, and facilitate mutual recognition … . We should lower non-tariff barriers, jointly improve the transparency of technical trade measures, and enhance trade liberalization and facilitation. (NDRC 2015)

This suggests that not only would Chinese borders and ports become more porous, but they would also allow for greater ease of access to ports in partner countries, with higher flows of people and cargo through the ‘roads’ and ‘belts’. Bearing in mind sensitivities to labour and refugee migration in many of these countries, as well as the possibility of an increase in illicit cargoes, this means that there will indeed need to be improved ‘cross-border supervision’ and control. Several Inner Asian borders remain highly porous and act as major conduits for drugs and organized crime networks. These include the long Tajikistan–Afghanistan border and the increasingly busy Yunnan–Myanmar frontier. In spite of sustained efforts to regulate these borders, with Russian training and CSTO support for Tajik border guards, and efforts by the ACCORD agreement between China and ASEAN (ASEAN and China Cooperative Operations in Response to Dangerous Drugs) to try to reduce regional drug flows, cargoes of opium and methamphetamines continue to flow into lucrative European, Russian and East Asian markets. The UNODC sees the trade in illicit goods (including drugs, arms, wildlife, fake medicines, illegal timber and mining) as the financial backbone of transnational crime, causing wider patterns of money laundering, corruption and investment in the ‘grey’ or black economy. It is a major challenge to developing countries, but also undermines even strong states

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going through economic transition, such as Russia, India and Uzbekistan, and can discount regional growth initiatives (UNODC 2016a and 2017). BRI partners may also suffer from negative ‘flows’ including environmental stress, intensified pollution, cultural dislocation, and exposure to intensified disease vectors. The Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC) might provide new routes for illicit drugs (methamphetamines and opiates), increase non-documented labour movements, deepen competition among manufacturing industries in different countries, enlarge trade deficits in weaker economies, intensify environmental destruction (only partly controlled by environmental impact assessments), and increase urbanization pressures (Sajjanhar 2016; Geall 2016). In the past, transnational truck routes across the Yunnan–Myanmar border had already been found to be important vectors in the regional spread of diseases such as HIV, connected both to drug use and sexual transmission (Zhou et al. 2014; Osnos 2006). Likewise, movements of labour have continued to flow from Myanmar into Thailand, with smaller numbers moving into China, Malaysia and other Southeast Asian states. Migrants from Myanmar – mainly crossing out of Shan state into China – are largely irregular and seasonal workers, with some drift into industrial zones (ILO 2015). Although relatively minor at present, problems associated with migration flows may be expected to be enhanced by BRI connectivity projects and to accompany greater integration of Chinese into regional economies. Indeed, unintended outcomes from accelerated infrastructure and industrial and economic development will need careful monitoring and management (Dellios and Ferguson 2017; Kovrig 2017). Underdeveloped regions with limited connectivity to regional and global processes will gain access to the benefits of investment and trade, but will also be impacted by rapid modernization. Some countries engaged in the Silk Road projects have ongoing political instability, underdevelopment, relative poverty, and transnational patterns of terrorism and organized crime. Bangladesh and Pakistan in 2016, for example, have a GDP per capita (PPP) of only $3580 and $5249 respectively, HDI ranks of 140th and 148th, and 31.5 per cent and 29.5 per cent living below the national poverty line (World Bank 2016; ADB 2017b). Bangladesh is viewed as being on ‘high warning’ on the Fund for Peace’s Fragile States Index, and Pakistan is even higher into the ‘alert’ level, while both countries have limited environmental protection capacities according to Yale University Environmental Performance Index (Jahan et al. 2016; IEP 2016b; Hsu et al. 2016; Messner et al. 2017). Aside from border tensions with India and Afghanistan, Pakistan remains troubled by local discontent in Balochistan and the north-west tribal areas, Taliban attacks on state

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institutions and Shia communities, as well as ongoing operations by Islamist groups such as Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Islamic State. Pakistan desperately needs further investment and development, but these are impeded by high levels of political risk and limited governance capacities, a problem shared to lesser degrees by Bangladesh, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (see further Dellios and Ferguson 2017). On the problem of high political risk deterring investment, Moody’s Investors Service has suggested that over one-third of the countries involved in BRI are ‘sub-investment grade’, with many ‘participating governments’ facing institutional challenges and related problems in project implementation, regardless of the high ranking of the AIIB itself (Global Credit Research 2015; Cao and Gong 2016). For China, related risks include ‘social confrontations between local and Chinese workers, environmental degradation issues as well as disputes over an apparent lack of corporate social responsibilities on the part of Chinese firms’ (Arduino 2016b). With over 40 000 Chinese companies operating abroad, employing over one million Chinese overseas, this will become of increasing concern (Liu 2015). One outcome has been the emergence of Chinese private security companies (PSCs), but new debates have emerged on the role of the People’s Liberation Army and its Navy in protecting China’s wider interests (Arduino 2016b). We have already seen how the PLA has been involved in the humanitarian evacuation of Chinese citizens from Libya (early 2011) and Yemen (April 2015), as well as involvement in other MOOTW operations,5 including natural disaster relief operations in Indonesia and elsewhere. Beyond this, the PRC since 2004 has mandated a number of new ‘missions’ that have expanded PLA operations into areas such as counter-terrorism, anti-piracy operations, and protecting China’s expanding sphere of economic interests (State Council Information Office 2013; ONI 2015). Since the BRI is also intended as an indirect regional stabilization mechanism, the future role of the PLA in protection of China’s interests and facilities abroad cannot be ruled out, especially in extended anti-piracy or peacekeeping operations (Wade 2016; Ghiselli 2015). China has at the same time become increasingly active in sending troops and police in support of UN peacekeeping missions around the world, is their second largest funder, and has committed 33 000 personnel to 24 operations since 1990, providing a ‘soft military presence’ defending China’s interests abroad as well as supporting global ‘public goods’ (Bwambale 2016; Ghiselli 2015; Nye 2017). However, the role of the Chinese security forces beyond the UN and emergency operations remains highly controversial. In so far as the Maritime Silk Road provides a justification for extending the PLA Navy

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presence in the Indian Ocean, it has sometimes been seen as a pretext for securitization of economic and developmental interests, potentially clashing with existing Indian frameworks via Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) (Singh 2017). China’s increased investment and presence in countries across Eurasia and Africa necessitated a shift in its security thinking as well. We can see this for example in South Sudan, where Chinese companies have strong oil interests and where in 2016 China maintained over one thousand peacekeeping troops, the highest of its commitments in Africa. Earlier attacks on Chinese-owned oil installations had led to some deaths and kidnappings by rebel groups from 2007 onward, with China becoming increasingly involved in peace operations during 2012–15. This meant that Beijing had to engage in forward-looking diplomatic and peacekeeping operations as the new state of South Sudan was born and went through its own civil war: After the country’s collapse, regional leaders took the lead in mediation, but China and the US were both active behind the scenes, pushing the government and its foes to make concessions. Chinese officials put aside their traditional reservations about talking to non-state actors for this cause, although only after securing the approval of regional leaders and the government. They also agreed to place UN sanctions on generals believed to be fuelling the crisis, in spite of Beijing’s reluctance to sanction officials from a friendly government. In addition, China demonstrated an ability to engage with the nitty-gritty of the deal that emerged last year [2015], resolving practical obstacles to a plan to house rebel troops in new camps by offering generators, blankets, and other equipment. (Duchatel et al. 2016)

This approach has been dubbed as ‘engagement with Chinese characteristics’, widening the boundaries of the non-interference principle; it allows the PRC some margin to become more directly involved where conflicts can spill over borders or threaten regional stability (ICG 2017). However, Chinese leaders still prefer such operations to be mandated by the UN, supported by regional organizations or permitted by local national authorization. Much is to be gained by management of risk along BRI pathways, especially if new partners can be brought into this process. Singapore, for example, is keen to improve trade and investments into Central Asia and has expertise in infrastructure, urban projects and logistics. On this basis it could act as a hub for legal, insurance and risk-assessment services. Singapore’s International Commercial Court, for example, could be useful in dealing with corruption issues and the role of state-owned enterprises. Singapore could also provide legal frameworks and training for extended anti-piracy operations, as well as advice on the future use of

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private security companies (Kai 2016a; Arduino 2016b). As already noted, PSCs are a relatively new area for China, which has yet to fully implement the legal structure to allow for Chinese to operate in armed PSC roles overseas. The US and Western companies have a long history of using such companies in developing or war-torn countries, ranging from Colombia to Iraq. In 2014 Chinese firms may have spent up to $8 billion on overseas security, while throughout 2017 a number of security providers, including the Chinese Overseas Security Group, Control Risks, Dewei and the Frontier Services group operated along parts of the BRI by working with local companies and training staff (Reuters 2017c; Liu 2015). However, care needs to be taken on the wider impact of using security firms and PSCs. Even though they provide protection for resource extraction and other economic activities, they can also escape proper oversight, intensify or extend local conflicts, and lead to long cycles of low intensity insurgency or even ‘irrational war systems’ whereby resources are tapped into by competing actors, funding further conflict (Richani 2005). A successful and sustainable BRI is needed for both the future of the Chinese economy and continued global economic growth. It was placed in the foreign policy context of the ‘Silk Road Spirit’ by China’s National Development and Reform Commission, arguing for ‘peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit’ (NDRC 2015). It parallels the SCO’s principles, based on the ‘Shanghai Spirit’ of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development and China’s long-term use of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence: ‘mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual nonaggression, non-interference in internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence’ (Sceats and Breslin 2012; Zhang 2011). China has tried to position BRI as part of a wider civilizational dialogue, with an emphasis on cultural diversity, promoting historical and cultural heritage, cultural exchanges, cultural inclusiveness, protection of World Heritage sites, future shared media and arts festivals (NDRC 2015). However, these may end up being mere accoutrements to the main game of infrastructure development unless integrated at an early stage in international planning. Likewise, the knowledge base needed for a successful human and developmental face for these economic corridors is now being explored through a Universities Alliance of the New Silk Road. Engaging 60 universities from 22 countries, it has begun to explore the technologies, human resources and interdisciplinary education needed to actualize the Silk Road ‘spirit’ of civilizational collaboration. Xian’s Jiaotong University and the Chinese Academy of Social Science have set

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up the Collaborative Innovation Centre of Silk Road Economic Belt Research, engaging in cooperation with institutions from Russia, Central Asia, the UK, Finland, France, Italy, Germany, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and Australia (Sharma 2015). Alongside these civilizational factors, China will face environmental and social sustainability challenges in the short and medium term, issues already acknowledged in the AIIB Environmental and Social Framework (AIIB 2016, p. 2). BRI will support massive infrastructure projects and external industrialization that could lead to increased environmental destruction and social dislocation in developing countries, with large mega-projects hurriedly pushed through with limited environmental assessment and little understanding of the impact on local communities (Geall 2016). In spite of environmental policies mandated in funding and national planning documents (NDRC 2015; AIIB 2016; PRC 2017a), there are concerns that the speed of ongoing and new projects may strain the capacity and ethical responsiveness of involved state administrations and corporations. Reacting to these issues, Xi Jinping in May 2017 announced as part of the emerging BRI programme some RMB 60 billion in assistance for involved developing countries and international organizations, with special food aid, housing, healthcare, poverty alleviation, and south–south cooperation funding, extending an earlier commitment made in September 2015 (Xi 2017b; Tian 2015). These issues are being explored through coordination with UN agencies on turning the BRI towards greater compatibility with the global SDGs, for example social inclusiveness and gender equality, but this remains at an early stage (Hong 2017; see further below). Special concern has been expressed about increased pressure on natural resources along the Silk Road Economic Belt. This is exemplified by expanded water extraction in the Tarim Basin with related impacts of desertification and ecological degradation intensified by climate change (Chen et al. 2016). Chinese officials, such as Yong Liquiang, Deputy Head of the State Forest Administration, recognize that many BRI countries face major environmental challenges, including Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan and Egypt, with four of the six major economic corridors being affected (Liu 2016). Drought and desertification are commonplace: Half of the 6,000 kilometre long China–Central Asia–Western Asia economic corridor is desert. Drought and desertification are the major environmental constraints along the New Eurasian Land Bridge (which runs from Lianyungang in coastal Jiangsu province neighbouring Shanghai, to Rotterdam in Holland). Drought and widespread desertification were also named as the

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major environmental issues in the southern section of the China–Pakistan economic corridor. (Liu 2016)

Ongoing desertification and soil damage could lead to intensified food security concerns, rising grain prices, and eventually an increase in environmental refugees unless these problems are addressed in the near future (Liu 2016). In this context, major information sets on ecologies, environmental structures, marine and land use are being collated by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, using data from the National Remote Sensing Center, with ongoing analysis by a range of Chinese institutions including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, its Centre for Regional Security Studies, and the Institute of World Economics and Politics (NRSCC 2015). Indeed, it has been suggested that new transport networks should be supported by a Belt and Road Initiative Space Information Corridor to aid environmental, communication and security needs, including an expanded Beidou navigation satellite system with ‘affiliated’ economies, involving a total of 35 satellites through 2020 and eventually 1800–2000 ground augmentation stations for ‘global services’ (PRC 2016, Section III.2.3; CAS 2016; Pekkanen 2017). With up to ten countries already involved, plus intensified cooperation with BRICS, SCO and the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO), China is becoming an important driver of technology transfer, education, broadband and professional services (Pekkanen 2017; PRC 2016, Section V.1 and V.2.2). Related issues are also found in the energy sectors that will be developed alongside infrastructure and industrial corridors. Even though China is now the largest global investor in renewable energy (domestic investment of $100 billion and $32 billion in overseas renewable energy projects in 2016), there are concerns that coal-based power plants will continue to be an important element in BRI projects. China remains the world’s largest importer of coal, the largest investor in coal mining and related power projects, including some 85 coal-powered plants in countries as diverse as Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Pakistan (Hood 2017; Henderson and Joffe 2016; Umbach and Yu 2017; Snelder 2016; Preston et al. 2016). Overall, the PRC has tried to aim for a mix of coal, wind, hydro and solar projects, hoping to support energy security for both China and partner states as users, exporters and importers. However, this remains a complex mix of diplomatic cooperation and economic bargaining, with the SCO Energy Club only slowly evolving at this stage. A balanced energy framework remains a remote goal even for the CPEC corridor, with long-term projects running to 2030 and potentially extended down to 2046 (Ghiasy and Zhou 2017; see above).

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In recognition of emerging maritime environmental problems, in June 2017 the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) of China issued a policy paper called The Vision for Maritime Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, emphasizing a new ‘Blue Partnership’ for cooperation along the Maritime Silk Road. Its guiding aim entails ‘jointly protecting and sustainably utilizing marine resources to achieve harmony between man and the ocean for common development and enhancement of marine welfare’ (PRC 2017a). Linked to values expressed in the Silk Road Spirit, the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (the SDGs) and the 2017 UN Ocean Conference, it outlines several maritime passages linked to existing BRI corridors: In line with the priorities of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, China will deepen ocean cooperation by fostering closer ties with countries along the Road, supported by the coastal economic belt in China. Ocean cooperation will focus on building the China–Indian Ocean–Africa–Mediterranean Sea Blue Economic Passage, by linking the China–Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor, running westward from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, and connecting the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC). Efforts will also be made to jointly build the blue economic passage of China– Oceania–South Pacific, travelling southward from the South China Sea into the Pacific Ocean. Another blue economic passage is also envisioned leading up to Europe via the Arctic Ocean. (PRC 2017a)

The document goes on to discuss a green development agenda, with future steps including a China–ASEAN cooperation mechanism for marine environmental protection, mobilizing the China–ASEAN Environment Cooperation Strategy and Action Plan, creating a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Blue Carbon Program, launching a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Blue Carbon Report, and urging countries to appoint ‘Green Silk Road Envoys’ (PRC 2017a). The document touches on key environmental concerns including safeguarding marine ecosystem health, biodiversity, restoring marine ecosystems, conserving endangered species, addressing climate change, monitoring ‘mangroves, sea-grass beds, coral reefs, island ecosystems and coastal wetlands’ (PRC 2017a). It aims at enhancing development and eradicating poverty through marine resource utilization, improving connectivity, transport and ports, as well as creating new information management and sharing platforms. A major section is also directed at maritime security, ranging across NTS threats, safety at sea, an IOC6 South China Sea Tsunami Advisory Center (SCSTAC) and enhanced maritime law enforcement. The document points to existing mechanisms

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including ‘the Blue Economy Forum, the Seminar on Marine Environmental Protection, the Ocean Cooperation Forum, the China–ASEAN Marine Cooperation Center, and the East Asian Ocean Cooperation Platform’ (PRC 2017a). As it stands, the Vision for Maritime Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative looks more like an invitation to action rather than a detailed planning document, but this is very much in line with the PRC idea of collaborative governance embedded in the document (Section 4.5) and the open framework of the BRI as a whole. China has already gained from developing coastal ‘blue economies’ and from wider oceanic resources, which contributed around $962 billion to the national economy and employed 9 million people in 2014. The PRC achieved a score of 61 in the Coast Governance Index, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit. This score is roughly in the mid-range for states measured for balancing economic extraction and sustainable governance (EIU 2015). China has a real interest in expanding its ‘blue’ economy, but is also seeking to moderate tensions in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean through these cooperative overtures. To date, this vision has not been entirely convincing, as noted by one commentator from New Delhi’s Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis: This promise of environmental protection in the BRI is certainly in line with China’s voluntary commitments undertaken as part of the Paris Climate Change agreement. However, Chinese practices in the recent past have indicated scant regard for environmental concerns in domestic developmental activities, reclamations in the South China Sea and overseas investment. The Hague Tribunal, in its ruling on the South China Sea, had castigated China for causing severe harm to the coral reef environment as well as for violating its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems and the habitat of depleted, threatened, or endangered species. China’s island-building spree and its mobilisation of its ravenous fishing fleet have resulted in the deliberate destruction of the marine ecosystem and impaired the long-term sustainability of the marine environment around the South China Sea. China’s domestic policies have prioritised development over environmental concerns with harrowing results. (Singh 2017)

In order to achieve economic growth, regional security, environmental protection and sustainable development, BRI will need to create active transnational networks and mesh with the agenda of organizations such as ASEAN, the SCO, EEU and IORA. Further, it will draw China into more active environmental, developmental and security planning, with PRC institutions and agencies becoming increasingly engaged in providing the information, intellectual capital and funding needed to manage

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complex projects and their related ecological impact. As we have seen, BRI has gained numerous partners, but has also engendered sustained opposition from the US and India, with states such as Japan and Australia remaining cautious over its geopolitical outcomes. The social and environmental requirements for BRI to be truly sustainable have found their way into PRC planning and diplomacy, but have yet to be fully developed on the ground. For China, this will be much more than a mere ‘going out’ economically, but will place major responsibilities on the current and next generation of Chinese leaders across government, economic and corporate sectors. At the least, it suggests a phase of interregional and supra-regional cooperation, led by China but potentially linked to progressive global agendas on climate change, sustainable co-development, peacebuilding and ‘common’ prosperity (Ghiasy and Zhou 2017; Cao and Gong 2016).

TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY SUPRA-REGIONALISM The integration of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road and its extension into other BRI corridors will be a complex task, forcing China into intensified engagement with Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and even the South Pacific and Latin America. BRI can be seen as a set of initiatives interlinking subregions, providing increased interregional trade, development and intensified communication. In so far as it provides for further integration in Eurasia and linkages to adjacent regions BRI can be viewed as an open-ended supra-regionalism operating at a sub-global level. It gives China a privileged role in wider Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and improves its trade and influence across North–South and East–West axes of development. Although BRI does not involve supranational authority structures (courts, parliaments and powerful commissions operating at the top level), as in the supranationalism found in the EU, it will intensify economic, intergovernmental, political and social interactions along these corridors, creating new flows of information, wealth and influence in both directions. Economic trends from BRI may well extend patterns of complex interdependency between China and a large number of small and medium-sized states. China receives 90 per cent of the resource exports of South Sudan, above 80 per cent of exports for Turkmenistan and Mongolia, above 50 per cent from Iran, over 35 per cent of Australia’s resource exports, and has been finding new trade partners in Africa and the Middle East (Preston et al. 2016; Ehteshami and Horesh 2017). This

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in many cases has been followed by intensified Chinese investment and the provision of credit lines for infrastructure development. This is illustrated by the Chinese state-owned CITIC investment company providing a $10 billion line of credit to Iranian Banks in 2017 for infrastructure, following on from earlier Chinese credit lines to develop high-speed railways from Tehran to Mashhad and Isfahan (MINA 2017). This linked form of trade and investment will go a long way to making the PRC the ‘indispensable nation’ in global affairs, without the need for numerous carrier task-forces, global strategic command frameworks and extended formal alliances. However, it also gives China a major responsibility in managing these relationships, especially with weaker states with fragile or contested governance, common across parts of Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Shared economic gains and aligned political interests with local elites will not be enough to ensure positive outcomes (Kovrig 2017). If successful, BRI will give China greater influence in other regional groupings, for example in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the East Asia Summit and in new dialogue mechanisms such as the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia. At present BRI greatly outpaces alternative regional economic agenda, for example the US formulation of a New Silk Road (NSR), suggested to link Afghanistan southward onto South Asian economies from 2011 but not regionally funded by either the US or India. This strategy was only partly re-engaged by the Trump administration in 2017, once again with an emphasis on Afghanistan, Pakistan and India rather than wider partnerships (IISS 2017; see Chapter 3). Likewise, US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2017 has seriously undermined that as part of the earlier US ‘pivot’ to Asia, or as a template for economic integration, even though Australia, Japan and nine other countries intend to continue negotiations. The EU remains important, but suffers from BREXIT, a widening pattern of euro-scepticism, tensions with Russia, and challenges to its European Neighbourhood Policy. India’s proactive policies in the Indian Ocean (via several ‘blue economy’ programmes and IORA) and Russia’s influence across Eurasia (through the CSTO and EEU) come closest to China’s geopolitical footprint but are less developed and less funded. Only ‘ASEAN-Plus’ networks, including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), EAS and ASEAN’s numerous FTAs come close to the same scale of overlapping circles of engagement, though more focused on the Asia-Pacific than Eurasia. China, in turn, has been shaping a new wave of positive diplomacy with the EU and key European states including Germany, the UK and France, providing a more comprehensive approach for Eurasian

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cooperation (see further in Chapter 7). This began with selective investments after the global financial crisis of 2008–09, but has since been linked to the BRI agenda. In spite of past tensions (over human rights and trade issues), China is increasingly seen as a valuable partner in dealing with a wide range of governance issues which are central to Europe. These issues embrace global economic growth, environmental cooperation (boosted by the relatively successful Climate Talks in Paris 2015), the continued stabilization of Afghanistan, future energy security, and maritime security. Cooperation on BRI projects would deepen existing cooperative mechanisms between European states and China, and extend ongoing China–EU dialogues and the wider Asia–Europe Meetings (ASEM). A round of intensified dialogues between China and the EU continued throughout 2014–17, including the EU–China HighLevel Strategic Dialogue, the EU–China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue, and the new EU–China Dialogue on Defence and Security (ECFR 2015; EC 2017c). As we have seen, BRI projects and investments have engaged numerous European states including Germany, Greece, Moldova and much of Eastern Europe, but may also be central to future EU growth: In Europe, China has talked up OBOR’s possible integration with the EU’s 315 billion euro investment plan (the Juncker plan). China is simultaneously pushing for an EU–China FTA that would make it easier for PRC companies to invest in European markets. Central and Eastern Europe are a major focus for OBOR programmes, with the Czech Republic, Serbia and Poland receiving major financial inputs. (Wade 2016)

Although still at a formative level and with limited outcomes, these contacts may lay the basis for future coordination on a number of global issues, as well as a reciprocal push for improvement of BRI’s own governance (see further Chapter 7). The current phase of BRI may be seen either as ‘alternative systembuilding’, providing alternative multilateral institutions that step outside existing frameworks such as the IMF, World Bank and the Japanese-led ADB, or at the least as ‘cooperative leadership with Chinese characteristics’ (Preston et al. 2016; see further Chen 2016b). If it fails, China might be forced back to a strong emphasis on bilateral relations and selective multilateral engagement with direct economic and security gains (Preston et al. 2016). Currently, BRI is one pillar of Eurasian interregional cooperation, and potentially, the beginning of improved sub-global governance. Several factors point in this direction. The trade, security and foreign policies of the PRC have become more initiative driven, with China willing to establish rules and norms within adjacent regions (Lukin

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2016). China was a key founder and shaper of institutional structures and policies, for example via formation of the SCO, the AIIB and BRI itself (Kai 2016a). Beijing has played a major role in the political negotiation, implementation and funding of these relatively new organizations, with economic power leveraging other types of power. In AIIB, for example, China was the initiator of the Bank, and in 2017 held over 32 per cent of its funds and controlled 27.5 per cent of its votes. Since 75 per cent agreement, based on voting rights, is needed for major decisions or revisions, China in practice holds a veto on major operations (Grieger 2016). However, AIIB itself operates on general principles endorsed by developmental banks, has committed itself to a ‘lean, green and mean’ approach (though its environmental and labour protections remain loosely phrased), has a large number of important partners (India, Russia, Germany, South Korea and Australia), and retains an excellent credit rating (Grieger 2016; Callaghan and Hubbard 2016). Indeed, if successful, these combined efforts by BRI and related institutions can be seen as part of a diversified ‘globalization 3.0’, with far-reaching benefits for PRC foreign policy and soft power, changing the balance between major actors at a global level (Hsu 2015). If followed through, these activities could position the PRC as a new kind of global power over the next three decades. Major infrastructure and trade-hub projects from the South China Sea to the Mediterranean are engineering new economic, social and strategic relations that may well turn the PRC into a pivotal initiator of global economic development (Brown 2016; Larson 2015). In particular, 2016 and 2017 were seen as years of opportunity: though there had been slowing growth globally there was also less competitive pressure and demand on resources. China, as the chair of the G20 in 2016, was described as ‘well placed to help progress towards a more effective global resource governance regime’, but will need improved transparency and environmental monitoring (Geall 2016). Likewise, uncertainty over US President Trump’s leadership and his uneven foreign policy (withdrawal from the TPP, the Paris Agreement, and growing protectionism), has opened the door for increased, and potentially acceptable Chinese leadership across much of Eurasia. Indeed, Pew Global Attitude Surveys of 37 countries in mid2017 saw Trump as arrogant (75 per cent), intolerant (65 per cent) and dangerous (62 per cent), even if 55 per cent thought he was a ‘strong leader’ (Wike et al. 2017). Confidence in Xi Jinping (28 per cent) doing the right thing in world affairs was only somewhat ahead of confidence in Trump (22 per cent), but in general the survey suggests a relative decline in US government soft power.

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It remains to be seen whether China can step up to fill this gap and sustain a new type of global ‘co-leadership’ in the coming decade. Such leadership would need to extend current economic, investment and infrastructure initiatives. The May 2017 Belt and Road Forum did go beyond purely infrastructure and economic issues. Developmental, political and security matters were broached in President Xi’s address: Some regions along the ancient Silk Road used to be a land of milk and honey. Yet today, these places are often associated with conflict, turbulence, crisis and challenge. Such state of affairs should not be allowed to continue. We should foster the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and create a security environment built and shared by all. We should work to resolve hotspot issues through political means, and promote mediation in the spirit of justice. We should intensify counterterrorism efforts, address both its symptoms and root causes, and strive to eradicate poverty, backwardness and social injustice. (Xi 2017b)

The PRC has some experience in addressing wider non-traditional security threats regionally, partly via the SCO and cooperation with ASEAN, but has only recently begun to seek a stronger diplomatic role in arbitrating or moderating political conflicts, for example in Sudan, Afghanistan and to a lesser degree in Myanmar. This suggests that China may need to go through another round of institutional learning to refine the political outcomes of BRI policies at the Eurasian and global levels (see further Chapter 8). As we have seen, China has also sought to link its BRI goals with international development standards. Initial coordination between the BRI agenda, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has begun since 2016, with BRI principles embracing inclusive development, common prosperity, sustainable and green development, regional cooperation, societal well-being, environmental protection, energy modernization, reduction of poverty and people’s livelihood, all with direct or indirect links to specific SDGs (see Hong 2017; Cao and Gong 2016). Likewise, BRI initiatives strongly overlap the designated areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, designed to facilitate the financing of development, controlling debt and addressing technology and capacity building down to 2030 (Hong 2017; UN 2015). If taken further, this would lead to an extension of China’s ecocivilization agenda along BRI pathways, providing a serious contribution to meeting global climate change and sustainable development targets. However, these eco-environmental challenges remain difficult to meet even within the PRC itself, and extending them to poorer BRI partners will be a still harder task (Dellios and Ferguson 2017; see Chapter 1). At

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the very least, BRI will allow a partial greening of energy production along several of its economic corridors through increased investment in wind, solar and hydro-power, though the last will need careful management of unwanted environmental impacts. It has also been suggested that the transborder nature of these projects would give China a role in mitigating regional water tensions across wider Central Asia, with BRI addressing the nexus of water, energy and food systems that are crucial across the drier regions of much of Eurasia (Zhang 2017). If the myriad interconnected projects are completed, this will advance China as a leading, but not dominant, Indo-Pacific, Eurasian and global power, with BRI as its economic, interregional and geopolitical ‘engine’ of change. Alexander Lukin and Russian thinkers tend to position these trends within the long-term cooperation between Russia and China, balancing US-led global alliances, with BRI and the EEU as complementary economic components (Lukin 2015b; Karaganov 2016b; Sakwa 2017; Blank 2016). As such it may be part of a global rebalancing that can head in two directions: a functional but contested multipolarity, or a new bipolarity based on Euro-Atlantic versus Indo-Eurasian blocs. However, as we have already seen, there are limits to how far China and Russia can become deep, symmetric allies, and China is reluctant to fall into a de facto system of bipolar global competition or even a Eurasian leadership diarchy. China is already using the BRI to prepare for new partnerships in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific Islands. However, its vision of a more cooperative form of multilateralism will rest largely on China’s ability to avoid intensified conflict with the US and to shape a ‘new deal’ with the EU at the institutional and civilizational levels (see further Chapters 7 and 8).

NOTES 1.

2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

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‘String of Pearls’ is a hypothesis originating from the US consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton in 2005, suggesting that China is developing ports throughout the Indian Ocean in preparation for military basing agreements to project its naval power (Baker 2015). The quest for energy security via commercial infrastructure for foreign ports is often regarded as the key driver, rather than any exclusive use for military purposes. Thus far the ‘pearls’ can be used by others and are not just for China. Individual state governments within Australia may pursue further cooperation in future. These interactions were briefly addressed in Dellios and Ferguson (2017). BIMSTEC is the Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, supporting regional economic and trade cooperation, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. ‘Military Operations Other Than War’ are officially designated disaster relief and humanitarian operations for the PLA, outlined in detail in PRC white papers since 2013. IOC refers to UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

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7. China and the EU: the hidden balancer The relationship between China and Europe is one of the great metanarratives of world history, with two major civilizational complexes developing on different sides of the Eurasian landmass. Contact was at first limited, driven through the silk and steppe roads, alongside maritime routes linking onto Middle Eastern networks. Ideas and precious goods flowed down these roads, ranging from silk and porcelain to paper, gunpowder, artillery and the spread of religions both East and West. Imperial Chinese scholars were aware of distant empires outside their sphere of direct influence but having an influence on wider Central Asia. The Roman Empire and parts of the Middle East were described by the Han period as the Da Qin or the Great Qin, indicating a great, unified empire to the west (McLaughlin 2010, p. 21; Waley-Cohen 1999, p. 15). Divergent historical development of the two civilizations led to different political structures, with China always seeking to reintegrate separate states under unifying dynasties (thereafter seen as the norm), while for post-Roman Europe the emergence of strong nation-states made unification either loose and fictive (via Christendom and the Holy Roman Empire) or the product of contested conquests (the short periods of dominance under Napoleon and Hitler). When European naval expansion impinged on Asia from the 15th century onward it did so in search of trade, wealth and then the control of territories. Leading European states vied for power among themselves through expansion of their empires, gaining access to resources, populations and markets across much of the globe. By the 19th century the balance of power had shifted toward Britain, alongside France, Germany and then Russia as leading states, each keen to control economic and territorial resources in Asia. From 1839 China suffered the Opium Wars and the increasing infringement of European powers on its coastal cities, northern resources and taxable income, leading to the ‘century of humiliation’ that remains a prominent theme in PRC textbooks today (Wang 2012). The emergence of the modern state of China was very much a reaction against European dominance while borrowing Western ideologies and tools of statecraft that would eventually result in the creation of the 180

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People’s Republic of China (Ferguson and Dellios 2017, pp. 125–72). Its Communist orientation would set it at odds with the US and Western Europe, first as a Soviet ally, then as a ‘tilting’ nuclear power. It gained initial recognition in the 1950s and 1960s, first from progressive European states such as Denmark, the UK, Switzerland and France, followed by West Germany in 1972. Thereafter changing US policies led to the PRC being accepted into the UN system and the UNSC, with full diplomatic normalization with the US from 1971 to 1979 (Wang 2015). Relations with European states evolved gradually, with the PRC reaching out to these states for diplomatic recognition, trade and alternative sources of technology. Formal diplomatic relations between the European Economic Community (EEC) and China were established in 1975, with an extended agreement signed in 1985 allowing a wider scope of economic cooperation, alongside existing aid and textile agreements (EC 2017b; Maher 2016). The relationship, however, was far from smooth, especially after the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protests and rising concerns about human rights within China, especially focused on Tibet and Xinjiang. In more recent times, particular actions served as irritants in the evolving relationship. These included the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010, the meeting of French President Sarkozy with the Dalai Lama in 2008 that led to a cancellation of the annual EU–China Summit, and British Prime Minister Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2012 that caused a temporary freezing of official relations (Wang 2015). These factors paralleled concerns about the lack of transparency in Chinese business and tax sectors, and ongoing EU restrictions on advanced weapon sales, though dual-use European technology had been sold to China, with a value of at least $1.6 billion in 2000–10 (Brauner 2012; for higher estimates, see Hancock 2014). Concerns have been expressed that BREXIT may make it easier for the UK to export arms to the PRC, though to date the UK has not been willing to upset its special relationship with the US by doing this. France, in turn, sees the embargo as anachronistic and damaging to China–EU relations, and has expressed an interest in early access to this market (Harding 2016; Maher 2016; McMillan 2014). A more likely prospect is that BREXIT will make it easier for France and Spain to push for an early lifting of the EU arms embargo in future years (Christiansen and Maher 2017). However, even with these challenges a certain convergence on the ideas of multilateralism and multipolarity has developed among the orientations of China, France and Germany, based on the view that even if the US remained the sole superpower, this should not equate with

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acceptance of US unilateralism and interventionism (for the EU’s greater focus on multilateral diplomacy, see Scimia 2017b). These tensions included a dislike of past American legislation designed to punish companies for investing in Cuba and Iran, French and German unwillingness to support the US war against Iraq in 2003, and a shift towards ‘elective trans-Atlanticism’ rather than an automatic acceptance of US leadership channelled via NATO (Mikheev 2016; Hatzigeorgopoulos 2012; Mitropoulou 2011). France had sought to maintain a special role in world affairs through maintaining links with former colonies, including economic and governance engagement with the francophone world (especially in Africa). It has a global (if limited) military presence, a large intelligence monitoring system, the second largest network of diplomatic representatives overseas, and maintains an emphasis on the spread (‘rayonnement’) of its own culture and scientific achievements as a form of soft power (Lane 2013; Lowy Institute 2016; Schraeder 2000). Though challenged by sluggish economic growth, limited defence spending down to 2015, divisive domestic politics and ongoing transnational terrorist and refugee crises, France sought to engage both Europe and China on its own terms. France, moreover, has responded to recent external crises, leading the international intervention in Mali, and maintaining ground, air and naval forces in Djibouti, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. It has deployed aircraft in anti-ISIS operations in Syria and Iraq, and plays a major role in NATO reassurance operations and air-policing missions in the Baltic (Chipman et al. 2017). Germany, on the other hand, has become increasingly important as Europe’s leading economic power and an important regional policy actor. With a weaker French economy, strong German diplomacy in relation to the Ukraine crisis, and the exit of Britain from the EU, the relative balance among great powers within Europe has irrevocably changed. Germany now has a leading role in engaging the economies of East Europe, has sought to shape a robust policy in relation to Russia, has taken a moral lead on asylum issues, and is now increasingly engaged with China both bilaterally and in shaping the European contours of BRI cooperation (see below). Britain, having left most EU frameworks, is also seeking to re-establish global ties, with China seen as a major prospect for improved future trade, financial and investment flows even though China may prioritize EU and German relations in the medium term (Summers 2017; Johnson 2015b). If in the last decade many Chinese observers came to doubt that the EU was strong enough to provide an independent pole of power in global affairs (Zeng 2017; Wang 2015), its importance has risen again in relation to BRI, and as a potential balancing partner to the US under the Trump administration. As we shall see, 21st-century Eurasian and global

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trends have resulted in a period when China and the EU have stronger grounds to fill out their relationship as a genuine ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’, a vision originally formalized from 2003 onward via the EU–China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement. China sought to deepen this relationship in its second policy paper on the EU in April 2014 (Deepen the China–EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for Mutual Benefit and Win–Win Cooperation). Formally, PRC sees the EU as a ‘global player of great strategic importance and a key part in the evolving international landscape’ (MOFA 2014) and on that basis: China and the EU, the world’s most representative emerging economy and group of developed countries respectively, are two major forces for world peace as they share important strategic consensus on building a multi-polar world. The combined economic aggregate of China and the EU accounts for one third of the world economy, making them two major markets for common development. Being an important representative of the oriental culture and the cradle of western culture and with a combined population accounting for a quarter of the world’s total, China and the EU stand as two major civilizations advancing human progress. With no fundamental conflict of interests, China and the EU have far more agreement than differences. Both sides are at a crucial stage of reform and development and China–EU relations face new historic opportunities. Deepening the China–EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for Mutual Benefit and Win–Win Cooperation will provide impetus to the development of China and the EU and contribute to peace and prosperity of the world. (MOFA 2014, Section 1)

As we shall see, this framework has only recently begun to be implemented by pragmatic agendas bearing ‘tangible outcomes’, since a number of serious blockages remain in the relationship (Brown 2016; see further below). In spite of these limitations, the challenges of the prevailing period have given the EU and China the mutual need to revitalize themselves as regional and global actors. It is the still relatively underdeveloped China–EU relationship that allows for new opportunities at the strategic, diplomatic and economic levels. This is as much because of divergent and complementary factors as due to selected areas of convergence where they readily act as partners on global issues. This relationship operates at several levels: China’s relationship with individual European states, collective bargaining and dialogue with the European Union as a group, an emerging focus on relations with eastern and central European countries, and the ongoing impact of BRI projects at all levels. If Europe was once seen as a dubious pole of power in the international system, that perception has begun to change with Europe and selected European states targeted as the end-game for a successful BRI network. In turn, most European states welcome China as an active

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player globally. This has become more important in the face of their own slowing economies and fears of negative impact from a protectionist US unwilling to engage in global developmental and environmental agenda, as indicated by Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement in 2017. Even as EU–China negotiations, which involve complex economic and political bargaining, gradually move forward, a number of countries have sought to deepen bilateral relations with China, including Germany, Greece, Switzerland, and many eastern and southeastern European states (Jitaru and Pralea 2016; Wang 2015; see further below). The political relationship between Europe and the PRC remains contested. The EU’s approach may be characterized as that of a ‘normative power’ injecting certain levels of conditionality into its diplomacy, especially on the issues of transparency, market access and human rights. This is sometimes seen as projecting a sense of superiority that is rejected by China and its elites: the corollary of Beijing’s principle of non-interference and peaceful coexistence is that other states should not interfere in China’s internal affairs (Wang 2015). However, the Eurozone crisis, BREXIT, the refugee challenge and continuing conflict in the Middle East have forced a foreign policy rethink on the part of many European states. They have come to recognize the need to re-engage rising powers and find areas of strategic cooperation to sustain their global influence (Wang 2015). Furthermore, though Europe’s normative achievements were able to influence an expanding zone of wider Europe, engaging ideas such as ‘peace, liberty, democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights’, this has begun to slow in the current decade with unfinished transformations in Ukraine, the Caucasus and the Middle East (Chen 2016b, p. 778). Indeed, the EU today sees itself surrounded by a ring of instability where its policies have failed to gain sustained traction (Chen 2016b), with blow-back effects including transnational terrorism, unsustainable refugee flows, internationalized civil wars, and ongoing human rights abuse on a huge scale. This has also forced some re-evaluation of the EU’s neighbourhood, Eurasian and global policies. At the global level, the EU’s ‘transformative’ frameworks have been relatively successful in environmental and developmental issues, allowing alternative windows for leadership and interaction with rising powers and less developed states in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The EU’s prominent role in the SDG agenda and in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change were in the end accepted by China and the BASIC environmental lobby group, which brought their own concerns onto shaping these agreements.1 This reconsideration can be seen in recent German diplomacy (see below), as well as European

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efforts to re-engage with Latin America (via dialogues with Mercosur and CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), a reassessment of African affairs and the Middle East and, somewhat unevenly, new relations with China. These factors have given China’s needs and competencies greater salience to Europe as a whole. Put simply, if Russia remains a problematic partner and the US a fickle one, the EU needs China as a progressive supporter on a growing number of Eurasian and global issues. Successive EU foreign ‘chiefs’2 such as Javier Solana, Catherine Ashton and Federica Mogherini thought it important to consolidate relations with great powers such as China in order to remain relevant on the global stage, and to move towards a cooperative and sustainable world order (EEAS 2017a; Maher 2016; Hsu 2013; Solana 2003). Specifying the exact areas of agreement and the shape that this cooperation should take remains a work in progress, hampered by divergent political cultures, limited convergence within the EU itself, and residual caution on how far China will need to transform itself to take up these new roles. As such, Europe’s balancing role in relation to divergent Russian, Chinese and US policies in Eurasia remains largely hidden by the complex challenges that the EU has to face in its interregional foreign policy and global security concerns. Yet for China, its relationship with the EU and Europe as a whole may be crucial for a stabilized future Eurasian order.

DIFFERENT POWERS, CONVERGING AGENDA China and Europe represent not only distinctive civilizational trajectories, but are different types of international actors operating within a matrix of divergent power capacities and restraints. Europe includes a group of traditional great powers that have historically used congress mechanisms (the Congress of Europe), alliance systems (diplomatic alignment and hard power balancing) and force (both within and outside Europe) to pursue their interests. This system can be seen as tending towards war and destructive outcomes, culminating in a transformational ‘short century’ from World War I to the end of the Cold War (Hobsbawm 1994; Kissinger 1995). In large measure the European Community and then the European Union were a response to this: a means to find peace and common prosperity by linking France and Germany into an integrative process that would make wars within Western Europe unthinkable. Through its subsequent search for ‘common positions’ and the eventual formulation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), the EU sought to shape its wider neighbourhood and retain global influence by a

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combination of economic and civil power, engaging cooperative approaches on security issues channelled through EU ‘external action’ policies, the UN and, in part, through NATO. Modern China, in contrast, needed to establish itself as a unified state capable of resisting external aggression, and emerged from 1949 as a revolutionary power seeking to directly transform the global order. Its gradual reintegration into the global system (being recognized as the ‘One China’) led to its eventual reappraisal as a developing state and then as a rising power that could contribute to international order. Rather than accepting Western tutelage as just another emerging stakeholder that needed to be socialized into the ‘liberal world order’ (for this terminology, see Ikenberry 2011; Nye 2017), the People’s Republic of China brought its own values, needs and vision of international justice to the table. It has increasingly influenced both international institutions and globalization trends over the last two decades. These divergent orientations of the EU and China led to a series of areas where convergence was possible (if not straightforward), but also areas of dispute and hurdles to deeper cooperation. Specific blockages between the EU and China include human rights, economic issues, negotiating style, Taiwan and cyber attacks. These are elaborated as follows: + Human rights and ‘good governance’ debates complicate relations, with the EU usually encoding such values into their trade, aid and comprehensive agreements, while China (seen as an illiberal, authoritarian ‘party-state’) follows the non-interference principle in trade and aid policies (Maher 2016). These differences still shape expectations between the two parties. In the period 2003–06 European Commission and European Parliament documents had an emphasis on supporting China’s transition towards a more open and plural society, promoting EU values such as human rights within China (Brown 2016; European Parliament 2006; EC 2003, Section 3.2). The idea of engaging China in a reform process was also emphasized in the 2016 European Commission report, but was softened by an emphasis on practical mutual benefit and reciprocity (EC 2016b). Nonetheless, ‘greater respect for human rights and rule of law’ were still listed as an expectation of China in the EU–China fact sheet of 2017 (EEAS 2017b). A related arms embargo has been imposed on China since 1989. This had slowed down some aspects of China’s military modernization, forcing greater reliance on Russian-based platforms enhanced by indigenous research and development, especially in missile and naval capacities.

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+ Whether China has achieved ‘market economy status’ has been the source of much debate. This is accompanied by European concerns over the strong role of state-owned and guided enterprises, a lack of corporate transparency, limited protection of intellectual property, and lack of equal access into the Chinese market (Chen 2016b; Maher 2016; EEAS 2017b). Specific trade disputes have occurred over textiles in 2005, the ‘flooding’ of the EU market with Chinese solar panels in 2013, claims of Chinese steel overproduction from 2015 onward, and some 29 ongoing European Commission antidumping investigations (Brown 2016; Christiansen and Maher 2017). + There is a perception that China and Chinese negotiators use a ‘divide and rule’ approach, infiltrating weaker economies, setting one European state against another in trade and investment deals, bypassing EU regulations and at times undermining common EU positions via bilateral diplomacy (Kizekova 2017; Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016; Pepe 2017; Zhao 2016). Even the annual 16+1 meetings with Central and Eastern European states (operating since 2012) have been seen as undermining the EU’s regional agenda or at least seeking to gain extra influence on EU decision-making processes. Chinese leaders have taken efforts to assure the EU that their actions with these states should lead to a strengthening of China–Europe relations as a whole, and are compatible with the EU–China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation across a wide range of issues (Jitaru and Pralea 2016; Pepe 2017). Likewise, it has been suggested that BREXIT may give China more leverage in its negotiations with both the EU and UK (Summers 2017). + China remains cautious about indirect EU engagement with Taiwan. Arms sales by European states to Taiwan have been greatly reduced since 1993, with EU arms transfers to the island being a mere 6 per cent of such imports in 2000–10, though this included sonars and diesel engines for Taiwanese naval vessels (Brauner 2012). However, Taiwan maintains economic relations with European states, and has quite strong trade relations with the UK, reaching $5.85 billion in bilateral flows in 2016 (Cai and Lee 2017). The EU’s policy document of 2016 noted that the ‘EU confirms its commitment to continuing to develop its relations with Taiwan and to supporting the shared values underpinning its system of governance’ (EC 2016b, p. 4), though this was stated in the context of constructive cross-Strait relations and recognition of the One China policy. Although not as fraught as the US–PRC–Taiwan nexus, China remains sensitive to any indication of recognition of Taiwan

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as a sovereign actor rather than economic entity. In its 2003 policy paper on the EU, China warned that the EU had to abide strictly by the One China principle, not sell arms or any technology ‘that can be used for military purposes’ to Taiwan, and not support its accession to international organizations that require statehood (PRC 2003, Section 3.2). + Unceasing accusations have been made of China being engaged in cyber attacks on European corporate and government computer networks, concerns echoed in the US and Australia (Maher 2016). This disputed area of asymmetric strategy, part of the evolving PLA doctrine of ‘active defence’ engaging auxiliary militia and hacker groups (Fritz 2017), is seen by the EU as needing tighter control by the Chinese government. China, in turn, makes a clear distinction between cyber crime cooperation and cyber defence, and has been working with the EU in fighting cyber crime since 2012 through groups such as the EU–China Cyber Taskforce (EC 2017f; Gady 2014). The European Union and the People’s Republic of China seem divergent politically, structurally and ideologically. However, this has not impeded many Chinese from having positive perceptions of Europe and Europeans as a whole. In spite of the ‘century of humiliation’ narrative that remains strong in China’s official discourse, another perception of Europe is just as strong. In the context of world history: This historiography constructs the world history as a progression from the primary stage of human society to the modern, industrial world, to direct the Chinese nation toward modernization and catching-up with advanced economies. It was the European Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Industrial Revolution that brought modernity to human kind. Modern science, technology, and culture are what the nation should strive for, and in this context, ‘modern’ is European. In this second discourse, European history serves as a pool of historical empirical experience, and Europe is taken as a model for China’s progress. (Wang 2015, p. 133)

At the popular level, the Chinese have positive views of Europe as a civilization and set of cultures, respect its economic system and enjoy it as a tourist destination (Wang 2015). Surveys of 3000 Chinese conducted in 2010 showed that over two-thirds thought that the EU contributed positively on global issues such as peace, the international economy and the environment, and around 63 per cent valued its contribution to fighting poverty and international terrorism. This gives the Chinese government considerable scope to negotiate across a range of public

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diplomacy blockages that might restrain engagement strategies, as found in relations with Japan, providing positive expectations of future China–EU relations (Dong 2014; Wang 2015). Views of the EU’s role in promoting human rights in China among political and social elites were more negative: 75 per cent of scholars disagreed that this was a positive thing, as did 50 per cent of media and government officials (Wang 2015, pp. 135–6). China still sees Europe as a source of advanced technology, innovation, fashion, and as a place to build external corporate centres as part of wider internationalization strategies. Aside from some stereotypes, the Chinese are increasingly willing to travel to Europe, learn more about its cultures, and engage with the EU politically and economically (Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016). In turn, European public perceptions of China are more mixed. In an August 2017 survey, positive views of China by western Europeans peaked at 50 per cent (Greece), with other people more ambivalent, for example France 44 per cent, Spain 43 per cent, Poland 42 per cent and Germany 34 per cent, a slight decrease from earlier years (Pew Research Center 2017). However, many European states are also critical of the US and Russia, but give the US an edge in overall popularity because of more positive views of America in Poland, Italy and Hungary (see Vice 2017). Nonetheless, there is a growing recognition that China is a rising power with considerable influence, and one that is able to invest for the long term in European markets. This has led to the fear that China might become too influential, being able to influence governments and broker deals shaping Europe’s future trajectory. This perception is supported by the increasing level of trade between China and Europe. Overall, China became the EU’s largest source of imports, second largest trading partner and second largest export destination, while the EU ranked as China’s largest trade partner overall, with a daily two-way trade of around 1.4 billion euros, totalling 514 billion euros in 2016 (EEAS 2017b; Christiansen and Maher 2017; EC 2017a; Chan 2015). In terms of investment, much more remains to be done: only 3 per cent of Chinese FDI has gone into the EU, while only about 5 per cent of EU’s FDI entered China, though this still constituted a total of 15 per cent of total investment there (Haver 2017; Brown 2016). Nonetheless, Chinese investment in Europe rose from $6 billion (in 2010) to $55 billion (in 2014), and increased by 44 per cent in 2015 (Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016; Hanemann and Huotari 2016). This may increase again as BRI matures and several blockages are reduced, for example via future investment agreements and new shared ventures (see further below). Chinese economic engagement with Europe is currently differentiated, with Western Europe as a major source of advanced technology, expertise

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and technology transfer, while less developed Eastern Europe is a target for Chinese investment, increasingly channelled through BRI, with a focus on infrastructure, energy production and manufacturing (Wang 2015). Furthermore, there are no direct territorial disputes between European states and China, with Hong Kong reintegrated into China as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) in 1997 under the ‘one country, two systems’ formula, even if Hong Kong’s human rights and judicial independence remain a source of continued debate. Such strategic competition as exists between the EU and PRC is indirect. This is exemplified by the cross-impact of BRI on the European Neighbourhood Policy for south and eastern Europe, and differing views of the threat posed by Russian initiatives since 2013. Although China remains deeply cautious of NATO as the enforcer of Western policies, as occurred against former Yugoslavia and in the Libyan R2P (Responsibility-to-Protect) intervention, it also recognizes that several European states (including France and Germany) remain extremely sensitive to misuse of NATO in entangling crisis management efforts. Suggestions for the UK to re-engage its Asia-Pacific naval presence by supporting recent US ‘Freedom of Navigation’ exercises in the South China Sea were less concerned with the trans-Atlantic alliance than with justifying the enormous cost of two new aircraft carriers and in rebuilding global links in the post-Brexit period (Graham 2017). A PRC foreign ministry spokesperson, Lu Kang, viewed this as trouble-making by another ‘external power’ but went on to add ‘China is sincere about developing the golden era of the China–UK relationship, but a good relationship between any pairs of countries won’t be possible without joint efforts of both sides’ (MOFA 2017b). The importance of London as a financial centre for RMB trading, the role of British universities and research links for China, and Chinese investment in real estate and the energy sector (including nuclear power projects, after some initial delays) make the relationship with the UK quite robust in spite of specific political differences (Brown 2016; Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016). Some commentators see an increasing conceptual and strategic gap between China and the EU (Maher 2016; Pan 2012). In an otherwise strong analysis, Richard Maher states: The main strategic and security interests of the EU and China do not overlap, and in some cases today their preferences and priorities increasingly diverge. China’s strategic focus over the medium term will be in the Asia-Pacific, where it seems intent on expanding its power and influence and perhaps even challenging the United States’ role as the region’s dominant power. Europe’s

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main strategic preoccupations over the medium term are also regional, and focus on a new Russian assertiveness, the fragile economic and political situation in Ukraine, and the worst migration crisis Europe has faced since the Second World War. Both China and Europe are either unable or unwilling to contribute much to the main security interests and concerns of the other. (Maher 2016, p. 966)

This perspective, published in 2016 in the prestigious International Affairs journal, is curiously dated and Asia-Pacific focused, if not US-centric, in its formulation. It underestimates the extended and active scope of China’s intensive Eurasian diplomacy (via the SCO), discounts China’s BRI and AIIB activities, fails to factor in the cross-impact of potential China–Europe cooperation in Eastern Europe, and short-circuits the intensive ongoing Sino-EU and Sino-Russian dialogues. The artificial division between economic and security interests is not one made by China’s leadership, which sees BRI and related projects as a grand strategy to sustain its economy and thereby its future security as part of its ‘co-governance’ approach towards Eurasia as a whole (Ferguson and Dellios 2017, pp. 5, 176; Fallon 2015; see Chapter 6). Tensions over the South China Sea, for example, are not just about a disputed U-dashed line on maps (ultimately going back to charts made in 1947), but concern China’s ability to maintain secure trade along the Maritime Silk Road and access to EEZ resources unhindered by a dominant US naval capacity. Likewise, China has engaged in sustained diplomacy with the EU because it recognizes the urgent need to make its BRI strategies functional and profitable over the coming decade. The intensified tempo of policy formulations by the PRC from 2013 on, as explored in the next section, indicates a serious effort to improve relations with Europe as a whole. If the EU remains cautious on a range of issues, this merely underlines the importance of ensuring that the partnership is effectively and mutually structured.

EU–CHINA DIALOGUES AND DYNAMICS The EEC accepted its first ambassador from PRC in 1975, signed a trade cooperation agreement in April 1978, began wider ministerial meetings from 1983 and then engaged in a ‘political cooperation framework’ from 1984 (EC 2017b). This led to an extended agreement signed in 1985 allowing a wide scope of economic cooperation across a range of sectors (‘industry, mining, agriculture, science and technology’ through to environmental protection), alongside existing aid and textile agreements (EC 2017b; Maher 2016). Thereafter a diverse range of dialogue mechanisms

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were set in place between Europe and China. From 1998, the annual China–EU Summit began as part of a comprehensive partnership approach, now with 51 sectoral dialogues operating at different levels. These processes were later on elevated via two important forums: the High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (from 2008) and the High Level Strategic Dialogue, operating from 2010 (Christiansen and Maher 2017; Men 2007). On a parallel track, China and European states have an important place in the wider Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM), with China from 1996 seeing its multi-pillar agenda as a way of deepening its global engagement and enhancing existing trends towards ‘multipolarization’ (Khandekar 2018, pp. 220–21). Deepened cooperation was formalized at the October 2003 Sixth China–EU Summit with the upgrading of the existing comprehensive partnership into an ‘overall strategic partnership’, seeking increased global cooperation focused on the goals of peace, stability and sustainable development (EU 2003; Men 2007). The major European Commission policy paper of 2003 saw the strategic partnership with China as a means of reinforcing the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, with the need for coordination on pressing international problems including terrorism, WMD issues, the SARS pandemic, strengthening multilateral institutions (including the UN and WTO), and the need to stimulate the sluggish world economy (EC 2003). Alongside human rights issues and promoting ‘global governance’, the paper suggested upgrading their meetings to leadership summits, sought to strengthen dialogues on the environment and energy, and encouraged coordination of successful WTO rounds and their implementation (EC 2003). In turn, China’s policy paper on the EU of October 2003 (the first of its kind) shared the focus on peace and development, with the EU seen as an important and unique player on the global stage (PRC 2003). The paper expressed the idea of reciprocal foundations for enhanced cooperation: The common ground between China and the EU far outweighs their disagreements. Both China and the EU stand for democracy in international relations and an enhanced role of the UN. Both are committed to combating international terrorism and promoting sustainable development through poverty elimination and environmental protection endeavours. China and the EU are highly complementary economically thanks to their respective advantages. The EU has a developed economy, advanced technologies and strong financial resources while China boasts steady economic growth, a huge market and abundant labour force. There is a broad prospect for bilateral trade and economic and technological cooperation. Both China and the EU member states have a long history and splendid culture each and stand for more cultural exchanges and mutual emulation. The political, economic and cultural

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common understanding and interaction between China and the EU offer a solid foundation for the continued growth of China–EU relations. (PRC 2003, Part 2)

The paper goes on to outline a continuation of the human rights dialogue based on mutual understanding rather than confrontation, stronger mutual consultation on ‘international and regional hotspots’, and the boosting of trade, financial and environmental cooperation across a wide range of issues (PRC 2003, Part 2). It also suggests the development of militaryto-military exchanges, the creation of ‘a strategic security consultation mechanism’ and the lifting of the ban on arms sales (PRC 2003, Part 5). Overall, the position of the two policy papers indicated ripe ground for deepening cooperation, consultation and coordination between China and the EU, even if the EU paper remained somewhat conditional in expecting changes in China, while the China paper was keen on gaining recognition for its existing policies. Thereafter, cooperation between the two sides moved forward on a slow but uneven timetable. The main parameters of the partnership were reiterated by the 2006 European Parliaments Communication, EU–China: Closer Partners, Growing Responsibilities, once again outlining the idea of cooperating on trade, climate change, security and non-proliferation of arms (European Parliament 2006). This document noted concerns about China’s production of counterfeit goods, use of the death penalty, political imprisonments, and limited internet freedom, with a distinct regret that ‘increased trade and economic relations with China had brought about no substantial progress in the field of democracy, human rights and the rule of law’ (European Parliament 2006, 1). Overall, the parliamentary document returned to the more conditional approach of the need for China to change before it could become a responsible stakeholder in world affairs. This gap in viewpoints helped trigger a further round of negotiations from late 2006 that would eventually lead to a new comprehensive strategic agreement and the forward-looking EU–China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation, published in 2013. From 2007 China and Europe were beset by changing conditions that made concrete cooperation particularly problematic, but also more necessary in the long term. Europe was shaken by the global financial crisis, with subsequent instability and sovereign debt in its weaker economies including Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain (the Eurozone crisis). Euroscepticism rose to new heights, with the inability of the EU to prevent social discontent in many member states and an emerging crisis in Ukraine. Indeed, Ukrainian President Yanukovych’s refusal in late 2013 of the EU’s Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area agreement,

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favouring instead a large Russian loan package, became one of the triggers that would eventually lead to the overthrow of his government and subsequent Russian intervention in Crimea (Hyde-Price 2015). With stalled accession plans for an internally de-stabilized Turkey and the exit of the UK from the EU, the European vision of a ‘deepening and widening’ union seemed at an end. The EU remained an important, but diminished, power, needing to reassess its regional and global roles. For China, too, the period was far from an easy one. Although its economy continued to grow, the emphasis on a socialist market and easy financing for SOEs was unable to mask a pattern of poor loans, capital flight, increasing domestic pollution and only gradual societal development. The need to find new approaches for energy and economic security turned China outwards, looking towards diversified resources and new markets. This shift began before the US rebalance (‘pivot’) to Asia (from 2009) that undermined PRC’s own relatively successful charm offensive with ASEAN states. Combined with intensified maritime competition in the East and South China seas, along with an economic agenda such as the TPP, this was seen by the PRC as more ‘containment’ than ‘engagement’ by the US and its allies. Yet it was precisely during this period that China needed to re-gear its economy to support the ‘China Dream’ that was launched by Xi Jinping from 2012 as a governance mechanism supporting the ruling party’s legitimacy. The BRI campaigns, as we have seen, were the practical means to allow China to ‘go out to the world’ and to sustain a China Dream that could be shared by neighbours and partners. It is under these conditions that linking the existing plan of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road took on a pressing logic for China’s leaders, with the consequent need for Europe to become an integral part of an extended BRI. One of the necessary partners for China’s enhanced transnational developmental strategy was the EU itself. Blockages between the EU and China began to be more pragmatically addressed from 2013, with the EU–China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation laying down areas for policy coordination including transnational organized crime, corruption, counter-piracy exercises, clean energy initiatives, and aerospace projects (EEAS 2013). Efforts at revitalizing and expanding relations with the EU have been notable under the Xi administration, with a reiterated agenda around the key ‘partnerships’ of ‘peace, growth, reform, and civilizations’ (Wang 2015, p. 138). Areas of cooperation were organized around the priorities of ‘peace and security, prosperity, sustainable development, and people to people exchange’, with food security, infrastructure, energy efficiency partnerships, and environment being areas of ready convergence (Brown 2016). In Xi Jinping’s speech at the College of Europe, he

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utilized the metaphor of a bridge of cooperation between the EU and China that would build ‘friendship and cooperation across the Eurasian continent’ (Xi 2014a). The notion of multilateral cooperation on global issues was one of the main themes of the speech: We need to build a bridge of peace and stability linking the two strong forces of China and the EU. China and the EU take up one tenth of the total area on Earth and one fourth of the world’s population. Together, we take three permanent seats on the Security Council of the United Nations. We all need peace, multilateralism and dialogue, instead of war, unilateralism and confrontation. We need to enhance communication and coordination on global issues and play a key role in safeguarding world peace and stability. (Xi 2014a)

The April 2014 Chinese policy paper on the EU called for reciprocal cooperation, mutual reform, and the need to ‘actively participate in the formulation and reform of the rules of global governance’ (Brown 2016, p. 3). It spoke of seizing the opportunity for a deepening of the comprehensive strategic partnership in the context of a ‘strategic consensus on building a multi-polar world’, while a detailed listing of cooperation areas included public policy, police training, urban innovation and revised customs agreements. It argued for an increase of mutual trust in order to ‘lay a solid foundation for jointly combating terrorism, economic, cyber and drug-related crimes, organized illegal immigration and other serious organized transnational crimes’ (MOFA 2014). In turn, the EU Commission paper of June 2016 set out hopes for a quality FTA, eventual completion of a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, and support for common security in areas such as ‘nonproliferation, counter-terrorism and cybercrime’ (Brown 2016, p. 4). It welcomed increased UN peacekeeping activities by China, and argued that operations in Africa offered ‘the best opportunity for EU–China cooperation’, including coordination in Mali and Somalia, as well as continued support for funding the African Union (AU)’s African Peace and Security Initiative (EC 2016b, Section IV). This came within the context of practical accommodation in coping with a number of international crises. For example, the crisis in Dafur in Sudan from 2004 began to draw in different but complementary approaches from the EU and China: As the biggest provider of investment in Sudan and defender of the sovereignty principle, China opposed external sanctions against Sudan and unilateral foreign military intervention. However, with the prospect of European sanctions looming large, by utilizing private diplomacy China was able to persuade the Sudanese government to accept a UN–AU joint peacekeeping

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force to be deployed in southern Sudan, which paved the way to end a bloody civil war and later to support the relatively peaceful secession of South Sudan. The Darfur experience exposed the startling difference of the crisis management approaches between the EU and China, and on appearance, it was seen that ‘China and Europe do not act as partners in managing the Darfur crisis’. At the same time, the two sides can be ‘complementary’: while one side puts pressure on the local government, the other side acts as mediator. (Chen 2016b, p. 786)

Likewise, France’s early dominant contribution to the UN mission to Mali from 2013 was reduced thanks to later support by Chinese peacekeepers, with 395 deployed there in 2017 (Chen 2016b; UN 2017). Assessments of EU–China prospects vary widely, largely in reaction to recent crises that have beset the EU and growing threat perceptions of an empowered PRC. Richard Maher has suggested that there is a ‘compelling logic’ to the China–EU strategic partnership but the two parties have a shallow relationship and remain ‘divided over core political values, geopolitical interests and priorities, and conceptions of world order’ (Maher 2016, p. 959). However, while formal EU–China frameworks may have plateaued to some degree, this does not mean that wider relations will run on auto-pilot or minimal mode (contra Wang 2015). China and the EU have continued negotiations on an Investment Agreement and co-funding mechanisms for research and innovation, with European concerns raised about transparency, licensing procedures, protection of investors and their investments, and related environmental and labour protection issues (EC 2017a; EEAS 2017b). Suggestions have also been made that a China–EU FTA could be one means to help balance trade between China and Europe, currently in China’s favour to the extent of 175 billion euros (Haver 2017; Wang 2015). In turn, China has seemed willing to ‘develop synergy’ with major EU initiatives, for example the EC Investment Plan for Europe (the ‘Juncker Plan’), thereby unlocking wider private and public investment for infrastructure development (Chen 2016b). In spite of collaboration across trade, environmental and developmental issues, and increased engagement via bilateral ties (partly channelled through the BRI networks), China and the EU still suffer from perceptual differences as to the preferred nature of, and means to achieve, a ‘new world order’, leading to a problematization of their ‘order-shaping’ efforts (Chen 2016b, p. 782). One of the other main differences is that Europe, with some exceptions, has largely relied upon alliance mechanisms to enhance its security, through NATO, the Commons Security and Defense Policy and the Lisbon Treaty which urges ‘aid and assistance by all means for any member under attack’ under Article 42 (Treaty

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of the European Union 2013, Art. 42.7; Chen 2016b, p. 784). Even though independent European defence initiatives have been carried out, such as peacekeeping roles in Africa and the Balkans, many European states have been drawn into NATO or US-alliance responses to crises in Afghanistan, Libya and Ukraine, and to a lesser extent in relation to Iraq and Syria (Fattibene 2013). China, on the other hand, sees military alliances as destabilizing, and prefers to focus on strategic partnerships, specific security cooperation exercises (for example in relation to border management), ‘peace missions’ run by the SCO, or mandates via the UNSC leading to authorized UN missions (Chen 2016b). This means that some non-traditional security issues can find ready cooperation, such as joint naval anti-piracy exercises in the Gulf of Aden, but wider convergence with the EU on intervention operations where sovereignty issues are involved remain difficult (Chen 2016b; Gottwald and Duggan 2012). It should not be assumed, however, that long-term PRC engagement with Iran puts it out of step with Europe as a whole. Its cooperation in the P5+1 negotiations monitoring Iran’s nuclear capacity were welcomed by Germany, France and the UK, in contrast to the adversarial relationship structured by the Trump administration, while Germany itself has kept strong trade relations with Iran (Christiansen and Maher 2017, updating Maher 2016). Nor is China entirely sovereigntist in its policies: it was one of the countries that supported the careful formulation of the Responsibility-toProtect in the 2005 World Summit, though the PRC was unwilling to see the mandated, earlier stages of this policy short-circuited towards military intervention in Libya and Syria (Chen 2016b). Nonetheless, China–EU post-conflict cooperation is more likely in the future for the Middle East and Africa: both want a political exit for current conflicts, with the EU being a major humanitarian donor and China a prospective investor for future reconstruction (Scimia 2017b). It remains to be seen whether the EU and China’s current efforts towards global order will increasingly work along parallel, complementary or concerted pathways (Chen 2016b), but an increasing level of consultation seems likely. If these factors are not yet enough to create the ‘civilizational partnership’ Xi Jinping had hoped for in his speech at the College of Europe (2014), these trends have established the grounds for deepened engagement henceforth (Brown 2016, p. 4). This can be seen in the emerging dynamic among Germany, Eastern Europe and China.

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GERMANY, EASTERN EUROPE AND THE PRC One European country that has the means and motivation in the prevailing period to engage more strongly in Eurasian affairs, and with China in particular, is Germany. Germany, as a reunified power in the heart of Europe in the late 20th century maintained a cautious profile in its foreign policy, with an initial emphasis on its civil and economic power, closely operating within the multilateral frameworks of the EU, the OSCE, the G8, NATO and UN (Katzenstein 1997; Sverdrup 1998). However, under the changing conditions since the turn of the century, Germany has taken on a more active role which involved a reappraisal of its security and defence policies. This included a more assertive use of German airpower in the air-war against ‘rump’ Yugoslavia (1999), a non-UN-mandated intervention, and then a greater role in peacekeeping and related operations in the Balkans, East Timor, Afghanistan and Lebanon (Dalgaard-Nielsen 2003; Werkhäuser 2009; Steinmeier 2016). Likewise, from 2001–02 Germany was willing to mobilize its forces against international terrorism, in part under the collective defence arrangements of Article 5 of the NATO alliance. Conflict prevention, out-of-area operations and protecting Germany’s wider trade and energy interests became more feasible under updated security and defence policies in 2006 (Federal Government 2006; Hyde-Price 2015). However, Germany was opposed to the US invasion of Iraq (2003) and FrancoBritish air operations against Libya in 2011, pretexted under the rubric of protecting civilians via the Responsibility-to-Protect (R2P) doctrine. Increasing instability in Eastern Europe and the Middle East has since drawn Germany further into a major role in world affairs that goes well beyond that of an ‘embedded’ civil power. This forced another reappraisal of foreign and security policies since 2013, leading to the revised white paper on German security policy in 2016 (Hyde-Price 2015; Steinmeier 2016; Federal Government 2016). It has embraced the need for combined diplomatic and security approaches to global conflict, been engaged in maritime anti-piracy operations (in the Horn of Africa and the Mediterranean) and supported several CSDP peace missions in Africa. It has slowly increased defence spending from 2006 – at 1.2 per cent of GDP in 2017 this remains below the desired NATO target of 2 per cent – but has yet to fully develop a coherent approach to preventative military operations (Hyde-Price 2015; Von Hammerstein and Muller 2017). Germany has come to see itself as very much on the ‘front line’ of an unstable Eastern Europe. Along with France, it had been a leading

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member of the contact group involved in the Minsk agreements seeking a diplomatic resolution to the Ukraine crisis, was a key player trying to bring Russia into positive relations with the EU before 2013, and was a strong supporter of a mixed sanctions/dialogue approach thereafter. It remains the leading economy within a European Union undergoing a series of internal and external crises, pushing it towards a reticent leadership role across a range of issues. Germany has become one of the strongest supporters for progressive environmental and climate change policies, and now recognizes the need to link developmental and security agendas to ensure a stable wider Europe. Its comprehensive approach tries to achieve sustainable security by combining civil and military assets toward resolving current global crises and preventing future Eurasian conflicts (Federal Government 2016). Furthermore, Germany, like China, has a strong interest in engaging Central and Eastern European (CEE) economies, leading to a possible three-way dynamic whereby German technology, Chinese investment, and CEE labour and production become part of a positive manufacturing triangle within the Eurasian economy (Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016; see further below). More widely, tensions with the Trump administration have led to a new emphasis on developing relationships with rising powers, including India and China as possible future partners (Smale and Perlez 2017). In turn, the relationship with Germany has become a priority for the PRC, both economically and politically. German exports to China have risen from a mere 1 per cent of total exports in 2000 to 6.5 per cent in 2013, while in 2016 China was the largest source of imports and fifth in rank for exports, becoming in total Germany’s largest trading partner (Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016; Statistisches Bundesamt 2017). Unlike many other European states, Germany enjoys a trade surplus with China and has sustained an impressive flow of FDI from its Chinese counterparts (7.9 billion euros in 2000–15), with a focus on technology and long-term investments (Hanemann and Huotari 2016; Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016). Investment areas include gas infrastructure and service stations, agricultural companies, machinery, environmental technologies and financial service companies, with 68 German companies being acquired by Chinese investors in 2016 (Hanemann and Huotari 2016; Reuters 2017b). This reflects complementarity ‘between their industries in the globalized economy’, with China focused on mass production and Germany on more advanced and high-tech goods, leading to an almost ‘global manufacturing duopoly’, though this has recently begun to change as Chinese exports move up the value-added chain (Chevallerau 2017; Christiansen and Maher 2017).

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In recent decades, China has seen Germany as a source for a range of advanced industrial technologies. This has reduced reliance on Japan or the United States for such transfers, even though EU sanctions should have adequately covered dual-use technologies (Wang 2015). Concerns over military use of advanced technology were resurrected in 2016: for example Germany withdrew support for sale of a semiconductor firm after warnings from US intelligence sources. This is part of a wider EU concern over the buy-up of high-tech European companies, such as offers of over $12 billion for German companies in 2016, including shares in industrial robot makers (Tamkin 2016; Stanzel 2016a). This buy-up is influenced by a past of insufficient research and innovation funding within China itself. The China Investment Corporation has been one of the main buyers of international technology shares, though the 13th Five-Year Plan which looks to 2020 has a renewed emphasis on funding science, advanced research, biotechnology and artificial intelligence (Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016; Koleski 2017; Kenderdine 2017a). If China moves into ‘markets for high-tech, innovative, cutting-edge manufactured goods’ such as luxury cars, pharmaceuticals or advanced electronics, this could result in more direct competition with Germany, leading to a reduction in complementary trends in the two economies (Chevallerau 2017). China has also accelerated its engagement with CEE countries, using Romania and Hungary as bases for subcontracting, with a 3 billion euro fund set up to encourage public–private projects and new partnerships in the region (Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016). Augmenting this in late 2016 was the Riga Guidelines for Cooperation Between China and Central and Eastern European Countries, with its emphasis on developing a Baltic–Adriatic–Black Sea Corridor to support the needs of 17 involved countries, with a new China–CEE fund of 10 million euros for related infrastructure projects (State Council 2016; Pepe 2017). This has supported a boost in trade to both non-EU and EU CEE states, with a strong rise in imports into the Balkans during 2004–14. China sees Poland and Hungary, as well as ports such as Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Trieste, Koper (Slovenia) and Constanta (Romania) as important transhipment hubs for its BRI trade corridors (Pepe 2017). Piraeus, for example, is receiving major investment to upgrade terminals and related hub expansion to increase its handling capacity to over 6 million containers, making it comparable to leading ports such as Rotterdam and Hamburg (Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016). Alongside this, China has been keen to invest in the 350-kilometre High-Speed Railway (HSR) from Budapest to Belgrade, with a memorandum signed by the three countries involved in 2014, though progress has been slowed through 2017 by EU concerns over

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opaque patterns of investment (Dimitrijevic 2017). Alongside ports, China and Germany are working together on building a Eurasian ‘landbridge’, extending rail-and-port projects that were begun as early as 2011, with the operational ‘trans Eurasia Express’ being followed by the new Hamburg–Harbin and Nuremberg–Chengdu rail links (Gaspers 2016). Overall, CEE countries are keen to engage China, partly to boost inward investment and enhance infrastructure connectivity, but also to gain strategic leverage in relation to both Russia and the EU (Pepe 2017). In turn, a triangular relationship is beginning to emerge between China, Germany and leading CEE countries, especially the Visegrad Group (the V4 of Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and more recently Slovakia), with this network emerging as a ‘Central European Manufacturing Core’ (Kizekova 2017; Pepe 2017, p. 7). Beijing may be prioritizing relations with these countries, while in turn Germany is becoming more dependent on final output to Chinese and Asian markets. Rather than seeking to divide Europe, China may be pursuing an integrative strategy: Beijing shows little interest in weakening the EU per se and is aware of the extent to which it needs Brussels’s stabilizing presence in a region where it is itself quite new on the scene. Indeed, Beijing’s primary goal in CEE is to use the region as transportation gateway and commercial platform to Western Europe’s markets in an effort to integrate the EU into its Eurasian grand strategy. Geopolitically, China’s engagement in both CEE and Eurasia might give the EU, Germany, and CEE the chance to counterbalance Russia while increasing their own strategic, political, and economic leverage in Eurasia. (Pepe 2017, p. 8)

This positive engagement could become complicated if the PRC seeks to move up the technological and informational value chain, thereby competing directly with German exports and using the CEE countries as China’s external manufacturing platform (Chevallerau 2017; Pepe 2017). However, proactive German, EU and Chinese diplomacy renders this an unlikely scenario. From 2016 there have been signs that Germany actively welcomes BRI initiatives, but wants the EU and G20 to help manage the sustainability of such projects and their impact on intraEuropean competition (Gaspers 2016). Germany’s desire to help manage BRI investments can be seen in its emphasis on routing projects via the EU–China Connectivity Platform, thereby ensuring they meet EU rules, Germany’s strong involvement in the foundation of AIIB (joined by a total of 14 EU member states), and by bringing BRI issues into discussions held in the OSCE and G20 in 2016–17 (Smale and Perlez 2017; Gaspers 2016; Grieger 2016). This is logical given the G20’s

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parallel global infrastructure initiative, which has identified an infrastructure investment demand of circa $94 trillion from 2016 to 2040, with emerging gaps in road and electricity programmes, plus a need to double existing annual global infrastructure investments overall (Grieger 2016; Global Infrastructure Hub 2017; Zhao 2016). Recent efforts by Germany to tighten national and EU oversight of foreign investment in infrastructure and security-related technologies, and particularly company takeovers, may be interpreted as a means to control rather than block BRI projects (Reuters 2017b). Over the last decade a strong bilateral political dialogue has also evolved between China and Germany, leading to the declaration of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership from 2014. It is comprehensive indeed with its range of interests: bilateral political consultation, foreign and security policy dialogue, exchanges of views on global and regional crises (including Iran, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria), cooperation on the environment, climate change, energy, food and resource security, as well as efforts to work more closely together in the UN and G20 (Federal Government 2014; Wang and Du 2017). This partnership includes some 70 bilateral consultation processes and almost 100 linkages across sister municipalities and provinces (Wang and Du 2017). However, regular leadership visits and widened areas of cooperation have been combined with a willingness by Germany to raise difficult and sensitive issues. Chancellor Angela Merkel has addressed problem areas such as limited market access to the Chinese economy, cyber security concerns, intellectual property protection, and human rights (Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016). Overall, Merkel seems to have been taking a balanced line with the PRC leadership, willing to raise problems but not wanting these to become a strain on the wider relationship, for example the heated debate in the EU as to whether China should be recognized as having ‘market economy status’ (Stanzel 2016a). This can be seen in Merkel’s ninth visit to China in June 2016 where she gave a speech at Nanking University that emphasized the ‘rule of law rather than rule by law’ as crucial for modern societies, probably responding to tighter regulations on media and foreign NGOs in the PRC. Likewise, the ‘rule of law’ in dealing with maritime disputes was mentioned during that visit, though not developed in detail. However, there were also positive consultations on other international issues, including support for Afghanistan (relating to disaster management and training of mining personnel) and for increased cooperation in Mali, where both Germany and the PRC had peacekeepers in place (Stanzel 2016a; Hyde-Price 2015). These talks were followed up in late 2016, when Germany and China signed a Trilateral Cooperation MOU in Afghanistan, aimed at helping the country

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develop its ‘infrastructure, energy, transport, environmental protection, agriculture’ and improving its healthcare (Gaspers 2016). By mid-2017 Chinese Premier Li Keqiang could suggest the elevation of the ‘all-round strategic partnership’ to a new stage across a wide range of issues: Li Keqiang pointed out that China and Germany enjoy complementary economic advantages, highly interwoven interests and great potential for cooperation. China is willing to better align ‘Made in China 2025’ with Germany’s ‘Industry 4.0’ and other development strategies, promote two-way opening up with equality, make ‘the cake of cooperation’ bigger, and deepen cooperation in manufacturing industry, energy, aviation and innovation as well as cooperation among small and medium-sized enterprises … . Both sides should strengthen cooperation in such areas as education, culture and tourism, and further facilitate personnel exchanges. China supports Germany in well hosting the G20 Hamburg Summit, and stands ready to make joint efforts with Germany to advance global economic governance, and promote the robust, sustainable and balanced growth of world economy. (MOFA 2017c)

It remains to be seen whether Sino-German relations can be transformed into a fulcrum for accelerated cooperation across Eurasia. In part this is due to Germany’s double-layer diplomacy (embedded within EU frameworks), but also due to caution on the implication of these initiatives for third-party relationships. Although increasingly critical of the Trump administration, Chancellor Merkel has long hoped for a more transparent and balanced relationship between Germany and the United States, and for a partnership approach between the EU and the US based on clear principles of action (Yoder 2011). This means that an active and empowered Germany will not abandon the search for a more nuanced relationship with Washington, and will remain an active player trying to influence Russian and Chinese agendas at the global and Eurasian levels. Germany retains a focus on multilateral and multipolar cooperation but does not see China as a straightforward replacement for the US (Smale and Perlez 2017). Overall, Germany remains a harsh critic of human rights failures in both Russia and China, but is more severely impacted by Russian energy politics and Putin’s intervention in Georgia and Ukraine (Yoder 2011). The events in Crimea and Ukraine led to a wave of criticism against China’s failure to condemn Russian initiatives, based on the PRC’s non-intervention principle. In fact, China was at first muted in its reaction, unwilling to condemn Russia but concerned by this assertive use of hard power, something very much out of step with both PRC and SCO policies (see Chapter 5). Only gradually did China swing to a more

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pro-Russian position and increased military cooperation, largely due to US assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific (Kuznetsov 2016). In turn, Western and German reactions have made Russia even more dependent on alignment with China, but with the PRC being able to gain strategically and economically from changing conditions in Eastern Europe (Maher 2016; Christiansen and Maher 2017). Germany sits at the crossroads of this evolving geopolitics and recognizes that an ongoing shift towards power diffusion and multipolarity in the international system will make regional security issues more important than ever (Federal Government 2016). It is uncertain how far China and Germany as partners will be able to consistently and proactively address these issues, but a more confident phase of EU–China cooperation could evolve if BRI processes are more transparently negotiated and bring early windfalls to Chinese and European stakeholders. In this way there may begin a tilt towards the enhanced partnerships that Beijing desires with Germany and the EU as a whole.

EUROPE AS THE CAPSTONE OF BRI As we have seen, BRI funds are increasingly being invested in Europe, including a special focus on the eastern Mediterranean, Central and Eastern Europe. The logic of many of the economic corridors is not limited to increased connectivity with China, but longer linkages onto westward networks into Europe. The ‘New Eurasian Land Bridge’ is one of the main corridors leading to Europe, while the China–Mongolia– Russia Corridor and the ‘Ice Silk Road’ through Arctic waters have extensions into Western Europe. Likewise, corridors through Central Asia eventually cross the Caucasus and reach Eastern Europe, while corridors into Pakistan and Southeast Asia have access points on the Maritime Silk Road, linking the Indian Ocean, Africa and the Middle East onto the Mediterranean. This means that while Europe may have been marginal to pre-2013 Chinese formulations of the new Silk Roads, this was not the case once these policies were merged into the One Belt, One Road concept and extended into the widening Belt and Road Initiative – with Europe then perceived as an integral part of this transcontinental network (Ghiasy and Zhou 2017, contra Zeng 2017). The logic of this is clearly demonstrated by existing trade flows, with the EU remaining China’s largest collective trading partner and a growing target for investment (see above). Likewise, key partners such as Kazakhstan see the Silk Road Economic Belt as bridging east and west, supporting new trade flows and their multi-vector foreign policy. The

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largest investment flows under BRI have focused on the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, but by 2017 countries including Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Oman and Tajikistan were gaining access to AIIB funding for BRI projects. The Western Balkans has seen increased Chinese investments, with strong potential gains for Albania, Serbia and Montenegro alongside other CEE countries (Grubler 2017; Dimitrijevic 2017). Germany, the UK, Greece, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Latvia have all become involved in various BRI projects, along with several local and city governments (Duisburg, Hamburg, Madrid, Amsterdam and Rotterdam). The European Commission and Poland have been critical of some Chinese projects and both France and Italy have concerns about growing deficits in their trade with China, but this has not stopped increased interest in future cooperation (Jakimow 2017; Lai 2017; Goulard 2017). In 2016, France signed an agreement with China on third-party markets and created a joint investment fund, eyeing future projects in Africa and enhanced ‘north–south’ global cooperation. This was further developed in the China–France 4th High Level Economic and Financial Dialogue of November 2016, noting support for the G20 inclusive growth agenda, improved climate change funding, support for AIIB, and the desire to make Paris a key Eurozone RMB financial centre (Zhao 2016; Secrétariat Général 2016). For Europe as a whole, BRI could lead to improved connectivity across Eurasia, shorter rail transport times to East Asia (reduced by 10 days) and reduced transport costs, and mobilize new funds to fill gaps in European infrastructure and transport networks, for example proposals for high-speed rail links from Piraeus to Budapest and Constanta on the Black Sea to Vienna (Grieger 2016; Zhao 2016). However, problems of perception remain. If recognized as an economic giant, the EU in recent years was rarely seen in Chinese academic and policy communities as a cohesive great power alongside countries such as Russia and India, while in turn an integrated EU policy toward China and BRI was slow to evolve (Zeng 2017). However, this may be as much a failure in public diplomacy as a reflection on current Chinese government initiatives, which have accelerated into an active phase of positive diplomacy toward the EU and European states since 2014 (see above). In turn, the BRI agenda began to be factored into integrated EU policy responses from the 2015 EU–China Summit onward via the EU–China Connectivity Platform and following discussions in the European Parliament, even if much needs to be resolved to ensure positive multilevel policy coordination (Ghiasy and Zhou 2017; Grieger 2016; Zeng 2017). From 2015 a joint working group has been created to assess concrete recommendations, drawing in officials from the EC, the European

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Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund, while a MOU between China’s National Development and Reform Commission and the EC on cooperation via the Investment Plan for Europe was announced in the June 2017 EU–China Summit (Zhao 2016). Though still a work in progress, this suggests a more strategic approach toward China as a shaper of Eurasian and global affairs. Beyond this, the BRI will have implications for specific European policy frameworks, including the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the 2016 Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy (Grieger 2016). The EU’s ENP, launched from 2004, was designed to stabilize the wider European zone by an expansion of trade, increased investment stimulated by EU funds, developing shared standards, improved governance, and in some cases securing ‘deep comprehensive’ framework agreements with Eastern and South-eastern European countries. From 2009, this strategy was further developed through the EU’s Eastern Partnership whereby states such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus would achieve sustainability through parallel reforms and access to the EU economy, but not become immediate EU accession candidates (Gatev 2004; Tudoroiu 2016). The ENP evolved thereafter to an extended tier of policy engagement with 16 states across the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Caucasus, including Morocco, Egypt, Israel and Tunisia, with border management, anti-terrorism and counter radicalization components (EEAS 2016b; EC 2017e). This was a means to stabilize Europe’s adjacent regions but also an indirect way of setting some limits on the rapid expansion of the EU, which had difficulties in moving towards a more integrated constitutional framework and public hesitancy even over the accession of existing candidates such as Turkey. However, the EU’s New Neighbourhood Policy was not strong enough to ensure its larger goals. Ukraine was unable to avoid being drawn back into the orbit of Russia’s sphere of economic and military interests in 2010–13, with Russia pursuing an active policy of keeping Ukraine out of NATO and reliant on Russia economically (Hill and Pifer 2016; Gatev 2004). The ENP was also designed as a means to support EU border control, with engaged states such as Ukraine asked to improve border management and reduce irregular migration flows in return for EU aid and visa liberalization (EC 2016b; Jaroszewicz 2011). The ENP had hoped to create a band of positive development across Eastern Europe with the aim of improved security relations with Russia in the long term. However, the Eastern Partnership components with the ENP, seeking better economic integration and political association with EU agendas, was seen by Russia as penetrating into its direct sphere of influence and

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undermining CIS, CSTO and EEU initiatives. The open-ended ENP framework was overtaken by the Ukraine crisis from 2013 onwards. This led to an intensified conflict with wide geopolitical ramifications including hardened borders and an ongoing stand-off between Russia and NATO across a divided Europe. A review of the ENP was made in late 2015, leading to an updated ENP from May 2017 with a strong emphasis on resilience, security, crisis management and migration issues in a rapidly changing international environment (EC 2017d): Terrorist attacks in the EU and in neighbouring countries demonstrate the need to keep strengthening cooperation both on security and on the political and socio-economic drivers of violent extremism. Tackling irregular migration and responding to the flows of refugees remain important challenges for both the EU and its neighbours, and key areas on which to focus our work given the continued instability due to conflicts, especially in Libya and Syria. To the East, Neighbourhood countries continue to grapple with societal transformation amid pressure from an increasingly assertive Russian foreign policy. (EC 2017d, p. 3)

With the advent of China as a rising trader and investor in CEE countries, this has opened up the possibility of a synergy between European and Chinese development strategies across a stretch of countries running from Central Asia across the Caucasus and Levant into eastern and south-east Europe. One of the main challenges is whether this cooperation can go beyond trade and investment into enhanced security and developmental policies. A major report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute suggested that BRI initiatives across this zone are largely ‘in line’ with EU interests, even if there are limited opportunities for ‘hard security’ cooperation at this stage (Ghiasy and Zhou 2017). However, there are prospects for greater cooperation on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, leading to improved state resilience and human security along these corridors, with the BRI as a potential accelerator across a range of issues including border management, poverty reduction, inclusive growth, educational access and clean energy investment (Dellios and Ferguson 2017; Ghiasy and Zhou 2017, pp. 50–54). Likewise, Europe has had to rethink some aspects of its CFSP, as can be seen in the June 2016 Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy, which sought to deepen its economic diplomacy, increase the EU’s security role in Asia, and develop ‘statesocietal resilience’ in Central Asia, Afghanistan and South Asia (Ghiasy and Zhou 2017, pp. 49–50). The Global Strategy outlines the need to maximize the potential of the EU–China Connectivity Platform, but also

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hopes for deeper economic diplomacy with Japan, India and ASEAN, as well as expanded security partnerships with a variety of Asian partners including South Korea and Indonesia. It is an extremely wide-ranging agenda, and includes the extension of the EU’s existing comprehensive approach to crises across all stages of the conflict cycle, with a parallel support for cooperative regional orders that could help transform the 21st century towards sustainable and multilateral global governance (EEAS 2016c). It suggests a stronger role for the EU as a global maritime security provider, with its ‘experience in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean’ allowing further exploration of a role ‘in the Gulf of Guinea, the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca’ (EEAS 2016c, p. 41). The Global Strategy recognizes that there is a direct link between Europe’s prosperity and Asian security, but does not develop an explicit vision for a more stable and secure Eurasia as a whole. Until this has been done the EU lacks clear guidelines as to how to respond to the wider implications of BRI as it unfolds (Ghiasy and Zhou 2017, p. 50). The revised strategy missed the opportunity to explore cooperative security mechanisms that could evolve into a Eurasian framework for shared positions on urgent problems. Intensifying problems in water, food and energy security, as well as the current hotspots such as Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine and the Korean Peninsula, are mentioned in the Global Strategy, but specific means and mechanisms are not well outlined. This strategy was advanced through the subsequent October 2016 EU foreign ministers meeting, with continuing planning to help European governments build military capacity, the creation of a shared command centre for coordination of response to global crises, and better coordination of defence spending and procurement (EEAS 2017b). However, these policy formulations do not suggest a fundamental rethink of the regional impact of enhanced EU and China cooperation, nor how this might be developed. China sees inclusive development and win–win economic cooperation as the main long-term stabilizers for poor and conflict-torn countries, with BRI a positive mechanism to reduce destabilization and radicalization across much of the east–west Eurasian corridor (Zhao 2016). Equally importantly, in a period of ‘power transition’ and ‘power diffusion’, the EU and China could come to play crucial ‘order-shaping roles’, becoming ‘building blocs’ in any revised global world order (Chen 2016b). EU–China cooperation has direct implications for Eurasia as a whole: Furthermore, the two need to build on their past successes and make themselves greater contributors to a more peaceful, prosperous and just world at large. Through the Silk Road initiative, China’s bilateral networks are

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extending to Europe. If the EU and its Member States could develop co-operation with China in mutually beneficial projects of infrastructure construction, it would not only open up new room for EU–China co-operation, but also offer the opportunity for the two to join forces to promote stability and development in the vast areas in the Eurasian continent between them. (Chen 2016b, p. 789)

The gradualist approach to operationalizing such geopolitical cooperation results from several factors. The EU as a whole will be unable to endorse an integrated approach to BRI until several hurdles have been crossed, especially the signing of a comprehensive investment agreement and increased confidence that China will run its policies through the EU–China Connectivity Platform. Likewise, China will need to further operationalize and sustain its rhetoric of win–win, cooperative, multilateral diplomacy. This requires improved management of environmental damage and human security impacts from huge mega-projects that will transform the face of Eurasia. These assurances are needed to build sufficient trust to transform Europe from a reluctant stakeholder to an active partner in China’s emerging Eurasian transformation. BRI itself was launched as an ‘innovative network-based project’ designed ‘to contribute to a more inclusive global governance’ (Grieger 2016, p. 1). Such openness gives it flexibility, needed in sustaining negotiations with diverse European and global institutions. However, this also means that policy coherence and public diplomacy needs continued effort for the BRI to achieve its wider goals (Zheng 2017). PRC national-level coherence had been provided by endorsement from the top level of Chinese leadership, including the president and premier, by the creation of an ‘Advancing and the Development of the One Belt and One Road Leading Group’ from 2015 to help push the project forward (it includes several vice premiers and Politburo members), and the management provided by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Yang and Parker 2015; NDRC 2015; Grieger 2016). However, more needs to be done to coordinate the evolving BRI network with key interlocutors, including British, French, German and EU-level elites and institutions. Geo-economically and geopolitically, a developed BRI could act as an interregional cooperation mechanism: The EU involvement with the OBOR initiative will be a defining moment for Sino-European relations. As the EU needs to offer China a unified and confident approach on the OBOR initiative, China needs to provide a

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coordinated strategic plan that streamlines the plethora of institutional actors into an easily recognisable interlocutor. (Arduino 2016a)

A deepened mutual embrace of China and Europe into a continental partnership will not go without external opposition. The US remains critical of BRI and the AIIB, with its voice having a degree of influence on some European, Japanese, Indian and Australian policies. Likewise, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership can be seen as a way to keep Europe and America economically engaged and to curb Chinese relative gains, while NATO remains the main transatlantic security framework in spite of its relatively tardy response to crises in Ukraine and the Middle East (Wang 2015). Ironically, Xi Jinping made it clear that the US was welcome to join the BRI, an invitation also open to India and Australia. In this context it has been argued that EU–China–US cooperation would be one of the most effective ways to help stabilize Afghanistan and wider Central Asia (Zhao 2016). However, the US continues to reject direct involvement in BRI or to endorse its projects, though Japan and Australia are less suspicious of its Asian geopolitical implications. Indeed, the US has run a low-level diplomatic campaign against BRI, in spite of the possible benefits of selective engagement (Luft 2016). India, too, has been willing to join the AIIB but remains critical of the security implications of the corridors that impinge on its own international interests, especially in relation to competition with Pakistan, developing disputed areas in Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and a growing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean (Ghiasy and Zhou 2017). China may have engaged in institutional learning and constructive socialization in its ongoing dialogue with the EU, leading to some shift in its multipolar diplomacy: One shift in multipolarity can be tracked through Acharya’s distinction between strategic multipolarity and normative multipolarity. Whereas ‘strategic multipolarity’ is tied to (military and economic) hard power calculations in a ‘balance of power’ framework; ‘normative multipolarity’ is more tied to soft power ideational resources, such as an adherence to, and advocacy of, international law and institutions and a strong sense of collective national or regional identity. The PRC has had a military balance of power sense of ‘strategic multipolarity’, as with its strategic partnership with Russia, but this causes some problems of image outside the PRC and is something that the EU has shied away from. The soft power diffusion of ‘normative multipolarity’ has been something that is more compatible with multilateralism; a rhetoric that both the EU and China have adopted in their Summit Joint Declarations on advocacy of shared rules, international law and international institutions. (Scott 2013, p. 43)

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This EU–China emphasis on multilateralism also allows for a softening of the China–Russia dynamic, which holds the dangers of evolving either towards a hard alliance, or eventually drifting towards divisive competition for regional influence across Eurasia. For China, strengthening ties with the EU, CEE and Germany will modernize and expand its own economy, and help bring Eurasian geopolitical and economic projects to fruition (Pepe 2017). At the global level too, China sees the EU as a less dangerous partner than the US, even though in the end one of the main thrusts of Beijing’s policy is to reshape its relations with Washington. This means that Europe is essential for successful development of BRI as a Eurasian ‘grand strategy’, and that Europe once again forms an important component in China’s calculation of the global shift towards a multipolar global order (Zhao 2016, contra Zeng 2017). This has led to the suggestion of a potential new G2 partnership based on EU and China cooperation, at least during the period of the Trump administration (Lungu 2017; Lo 2017b). This is unlikely, given past Chinese caution of an emergence of a diarchy of itself and the US as global powers, and its continued emphasis on cooperation via multilateralism and win–win multipolarity. Even if policy formulations such as a ‘new type of great power relations’ were at first tailored specifically for improving the China–US dynamic, they have since had limited traction on Washington but may be realized in relations with Russia and potentially other great powers, including the EU as a whole and with major European states (Charap et al. 2017; Zeng 2017). At present it is uncertain whether increasing EU–China dialogue will overcome the ‘trust deficit’ that exists in European elites and public perceptions (Zhao 2016). At best, the EU and China will slowly evolve into a governance partnership that can proactively shape the evolution of Eurasian affairs. In so far as the China–EU relationship remains constrained, this gives a range of other actors a stronger role in initiating, shaping or limiting regional cooperation, including increased Russia and India engagement. In turn, the US has the choice of selective engagement, off-shore balancing, costly containment or dangerously isolationist roles (Mearsheimer and Walt 2016). China, however, needs effective economic and political gains from its huge investment in BRI over the coming decade, giving it a relatively short timeframe for setting the keystone of European cooperation into place. This gives the EU an opportunity to influence future Chinese regional and global policies. It remains, however, a hidden opportunity that needs detailed strategic analysis once the importance of the BRI agenda has been really understood by European audiences and decision-makers.

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NOTES 1. 2.

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The BASIC group comprises Brazil, China, India and South Africa, who have cooperated on their approaches to the climate change talks since 2009. That is, the European Union High Representatives for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

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8. The Eurasian end-game: from regional roles to sustainable global power One of China’s main aims since 2013 has been to avoid being seen as a rising regional hegemon, a vision that would lead to it becoming a target for sustained containment and counter-balancing policies by the US and its allies. As we have seen, even power diarchies are officially viewed with suspicion by Chinese political elites, though some academics have explored this as a possible option (Lo 2017a; Watts et al. 2016; Nye 2015; Oster 2009). Likewise, a tripolar power system, as hoped for by Russia, would not be inclusive enough for current Chinese views of a multilateral order in which the PRC becomes an ‘attractor’ and implicit centre of gravity in cooperative networks (see Chapters 4 and 5). In Eurasia, China needs to avoid letting Russian security initiatives undermine its more nuanced approach toward shaping the super-region, a task which requires greater cooperation with the European Union, Germany, and eventually, India. At the global level, the PRC leadership understands that any invitation to share power as part of a G2 with the US would result in it becoming a junior, contested partner, merely delaying a future struggle for power primacy, even though Chinese academics have increasingly discussed the notion of a G2 ‘with Chinese characteristics’ (contra Lo 2017a; Zeng and Breslin 2016). In this setting we can see that China has a serious desire to shape an alternative power relationship among the great states, and to create a role for itself as a new type of ‘global power’. These conceptions are not merely based on power-levels (as defined in China’s comprehensive national strength) nor on direct competition, but involve cooperation and responsibility ‘for addressing global problems on the basis of mutual advantage and compromise’ (Lukin 2016). These factors have led Chinese foreign, economic and security policies along several parallel directions. First, they have resulted in China’s increased engagement in existing multilateral and global institutions, a process that was already underway in the 1990s at the regional level via its relations with ASEAN and the creation of the SCO. This has 213

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accelerated in the last decade with stronger roles at global-level organizations as well as the creation of parallel institutions. China is now a stronger player and stakeholder in many global processes, including an increased role in UN peacekeeping and funding, a major role in the G20, the increased use of the renminbi as a trading and reserve currency, an increase in IMF funding and voting rights (up from 3.8 per cent to 6.41 per cent), plus continued engagement in the World Bank and the ADB (Miller 2017; Shen 2016b). It became a member of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in December 2015, and extended cooperation and infrastructure financing between the EBRD and its Export-Import Bank of China, mainly focused on central Europe, Central Asia and the south and east of the Mediterranean (Le Corre and Sepulchre 2016; Rosca 2015). In turn, the European Investment Bank (EIB) has opened an office in Beijing and in May 2017 formally agreed to support the BRI agenda, offering its own experience gained in technical, environmental and climate-related investment (EIB 2017; Grieger 2016). An MOU has been signed between China and six major multilateral banks to support cross-border trade, infrastructure development and future prosperity, including the ‘Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the New Development Bank, the World Bank, and the European Investment Bank’ (EIB 2017). In turn, expanded BRI projects have been coordinated in part with the SCO, ASEAN, ASEM, and via dialogues with the Forum on China– Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the China–Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) and BRICS (Gaens 2018; Grieger 2016, p. 5). China remains active in a large number of Indo-Pacific organizations including APEC, ARF, EAS, the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP) and the Shangri-La Dialogue, as well as more China-focused groups such as the Boao Forum for Asia and the Network of East Asian Think Tanks (NEAT). Multilateral frameworks where China is active include the SCO, BRICS, RCEP, ASEM and AIIB, as well as Track II groupings such as the Kunming Initiative, the Xiangshan Forum and the Ulaanbaatar process, which from 2015 has sought peace and stability in Northeast Asia. As such, China is engaging more strongly in multilateral, multitrack and interregional diplomacy, giving it an extended reach in global affairs. However, the reform of existing institutions has been slow and their overall capacity remains too limited to cope with ongoing global challenges. This has led to a range of reform strategies ‘from the outside’ focused on alternative, overlapping and reinforcing agencies and structuring strategies. China has been a creator or co-founder of important

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parallel organizations presented as adding to existing multilateral frameworks (Wang 2015). Zhimin Chen has categorized these approaches as ‘plurilateral regional orders’ (such as the SCO), ‘plurilateral embedded orders’ to complement existing mechanisms (such as the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization regional contingency fund), and ‘plurilateral parallel orders’ (such as the BRICS New Development Bank and AIIB) which are independent and can operate either supportively or competitively regarding established institutions (Chen 2016b, p. 781). Beyond this, the BRI has provided a web of bilateral projects that can be linked to regional frameworks, funded by multilateral banks such as AIIB, or nationally directed funding mechanisms such as China’s Central Bank and the China Development Bank (Chen 2016b; Gu 2017; see Chapter 6). This allows China greater scope for ‘soft’ influence and promotion of its win–win foreign policy claims, moderating its otherwise startling economic and strategic rise. Taken together, many of these areas of activity suggest an ‘incremental intercontinentalism’ engaging a widening footprint of countries and economies (Wang 2015). This trend is less grandiose than Russia’s ‘Greater Eurasia’ but for that very reason has some chance to succeed in placing China at the heart of extended Eurasian networks with global ramifications. However, to achieve these Eurasian goals within a cooperative global system requires enormous effort not just by China, but by a wide range of state partners and non-state actors across thousands of collaborative projects. The risks for this agenda, both in terms of the geopolitical stabilization of Eurasia and of BRI itself are considerable. Any future large-scale financial crisis or serious slowing of the global economy would undermine hoped-for developmental gains, with a possible rebound towards de-globalization, competitive geopolitics, and defensive national policies (Laudicina 2016; GBPC 2016). Likewise, instability expanding from existing conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria could pose serious challenges in the Middle East and Central Asia, swamping global institutional abilities to respond. If unmanaged, such problems could herald not just a post-West global order, but a post-global fragmentation of world governance. In negative scenarios this could rebound into heightened great power competition, economic protectionism, failures in support for UN-level environmental agendas and a reversal of positive developmental indicators across much of East and Central Asia. Likewise, a geopolitical widening of the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian orders could lead to a new bipolar global competition based on regional frameworks, something welcomed by some Russian elites (see further below). This is not the kind of ‘creative destruction’ that could usher in a positive new world order, multipolar or

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otherwise (Stein 2010). Fortunately, these negative scenarios are moderated by the main thrust of European and Chinese policies, suggesting a more gradual transition with less likelihood of escalated conflicts.

THE GLOBAL RISKS OF FAILURE For China, the failure of BRI as a whole would lead to greater slowing of growth, accrued bad loans with increasing pressure on national Chinese banks, reduction in its foreign capital reserves, losses to its major corporations, and limits to national and defence budgets. It would obstruct the ability to reshape its economy towards a diversified ‘knowledge economy’ with a lower environmental impact than its current phase of intensive manufacturing and heavy industry. It should be remembered that China remains the world’s largest steel and cement producer, the biggest ship builder (ahead of Japan and South Korea), the largest coal consumer globally, biggest producer of solar power and (still) the largest greenhouse-gas emitter, with emissions having increased again in 2017 (Tollefson 2017; UNEP 2017). As a major trading partner with the US, the EU, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Australia, Brazil and Chile, any serious downturn in the Chinese economy would have flow-on effects in reducing resource imports, limiting overseas investment, and disruption of global production chains (see further below). In effect, China has gone through rapid industrialization, capitalization and a move towards an information-based society over the last three decades. Combined with its large population, growing domestic economy and rising consumption levels, these have had a strong multiplier effect as the Chinese GDP per capita has had sustained growth in the period 2010–17 (from US$4478 to $8833), with continued projected growth through to 2021 (Statistica 2017b). Disruption of these trends would have dire implications for domestic stability and for the global economy. A failure of the BRI would bring the ‘China Dream’ and its related ‘going out’ and ‘new normal’ economic policies into doubt, with serious blow-back on Xi Jinping’s leadership (Das 2016). At the least, it would create policy tensions within the CCP, as well as public apprehension about the future of China and the quality of life for 1.4 billion people. In the past two decades we have seen serious social agitation within the PRC, including protests, riots and strikes, in both the countryside and cities, as China went through short-term economic crises, reform adjustments, and a partial opening to new forms of media. Causes of protest included loss of jobs in a changing economy, uneven taxation reform, growth in income inequality, corruption, environmental pollution, and

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food safety failures. In spite of efforts to monitor, control or suppress such protests, the government remains sensitive to these trends, using social and internet media to monitor discontent and address problems before they can become real threats to regime stability (Qin et al. 2017). One of the long-term truisms for Chinese governance has been the need to maintain the basic well-being of the people to ensure stable government, with a renewed effort by the Xi administration to shape and channel societal aspirations. The BRI has been presented as one of the main means to achieve such goals domestically and internationally, and from the point of view of the PRC leadership it needs to succeed. Thus in China’s 2016–20 Five-Year Plan report BRI was embedded in a wider pattern of ‘all-around opening up’, just before sections on participating in global economic governance and assuming international responsibilities and obligations (CC-CPC 2016, Part XI). Any serious retreat from the BRI agenda would also have severe implications for development along all its economic corridors, potentially affecting in total over 4 billion people. Slowing investment, unfinished projects and lack of confidence would be especially problematic for developing states, undermining national planning, infrastructure and societal development, with spillover effects into local corporations, businesses, banks and private investors. Although difficult to quantify, a future failure of BRI as a whole would undermine growth in emerging Asian and African economies, slow trade flows with the developed world (including the EU, US, UK, Germany and Australia) and undercut new initiatives in the Middle East. Until poorer countries had time to adjust, this could increase sovereign debt, slow development, and increase the gap between rich and poor in the medium term. Such economic pressures would also push some of the least developed states towards increased political fragility. These concerns have been raised for several Central Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern and north African states which have poorly functioning ‘procedural democracies’, limited governance capacity, high levels of corruption, an over-reliance on primary resource exports, or which have recently experienced civil wars and insurgencies (Ghiasy and Zhou 2017; Dellios and Ferguson 2017; Cheterian 2010; for comparative metrics see Cordesman 2017; Messner et al. 2017). At this early stage, none of these dire scenarios has eventuated for the BRI itself. To date, Asian emerging economies have been ‘helped by increased intraregional trade and investment flows’, further boosted by the BRI initiatives (World Bank 2017b). However, some specific signs of potential stress, continued underdevelopment and increased risk have emerged. To be truly ‘game-changing’ BRI needs to move from its focus

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on bilateral inter-state relations towards a more regional approach involving a major reduction in cross-border transaction costs, improved trade facilitation, and the bridging of missing transport links, especially along the China–Central Asia–West Asia and the China–Indo-China-Peninsula corridors (Akhtar 2017). Further work will need to be done to create institutional links to ensure the legislative coordination for such open flows of goods, energy, people and information, especially between different Asian and European governance structures. Likewise, BRI has been promoted as developing digital connectivity along its corridors, using new optical fibre and satellite networks for this purpose. However, assessments by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) suggest that connectivity in the China–Central Asia–West Asia Corridor would need further upgrading with redundant fibre routes, greater bandwidth, improved security, and better pricing to make it accessible to a large part of the population of poorer states (ESCAP 2017a). Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary of ESCAP, has suggested that: While the social benefits of some corridors are high, there is need to adopt more inclusive approaches to cope with social risks. For example, connecting the BRI to remote areas with new multi-country corridors would enable rural industrialization and help narrow urban–rural gaps. It is therefore important that synergies and complementarities between the objectives of the BRI and the Sustainable Development Goals can help create a win–win solution, particularly as regional cooperation and integration will facilitate realization of transboundary goals. The BRI with its unprecedented ambition and scale entails enormous complexities and challenges; however, it offers phenomenal opportunities to put Asia on a sustainable and well-balanced growth and sustainable development path. (Akhtar 2017)

As we have already seen (Chapter 6), some Chinese investment seems driven by geopolitical and strategic considerations, with economic losses of up to 50–80 per cent estimated for specific projects in Pakistan and Myanmar (Snelder 2016; Preston et al. 2016). PRC planning encompasses many of these issues, with a gradual gearing up of new satellite, educational, environmental and sustainability policies (NDRC 2015; PRC 2017b; Cao and Gong 2016). In the long term, however, China may well need to critically assess the capacity of poor and troubled states along these corridors to absorb high levels of aid and loan flows, a problem noted for both Pakistan and Sri Lanka (Zhang and Miller 2017; Dorsey 2017). Debt accrual, repayment delays, defaults and restructuring are part of the painful, long-term experiences of organizations such as the IMF

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and World Bank. Controversy has raged over what contributes to specific ‘success’ rates of the World Bank projects (about 70–80 per cent for 1995–2015) as well as the general impact on poverty levels, while global debt has continued to rise, driven by increasing debt in developing countries, to around $217 trillion in late 2017 (Reuters 2017e; Bulman et al. 2016; Elliot 2016). Here, further ‘institutional learning’ may be required as the PRC implements its BRI agenda and shifts to becoming a major lender into the world’s developmental networks. At the global level, a risk-prone or failing BRI would spell economic disaster. Any substantial slowing of Chinese growth, including its level of resource imports, would directly impact on its major partners. Projections of PRC growth dropping from 6.7 per cent in 2016 towards 6.3 per cent in 2019 already suggest careful management of government incentives and some ‘rebalance’ toward stronger consumer spending (World Bank 2017b). Even relatively minor policy shifts, such as the PRC’s increased use of gas for power production, do not go unnoticed in the economic calculus of other states. In the gas example, there has been a boosting of pipeline and LNG imports from diverse trade partners including Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Australia – a noticeable trend since 2002. Any slowing of growth in the Chinese economy has led to a decline in resource imports and therefore a loss of income for Brazil, Chile, Australia and other major trading partners. The Brazilian economy, for example, has been viewed as extremely sensitive to prior slowing of levels of Chinese growth, which was one of the factors in negative growth for the Brazilian economy in 2013–16 (Helfand and Buainain 2016). We should not exaggerate the global impact of Chinese trends, but growth in the BRICS grouping as a whole remains a decisive factor for global economic well-being. In one World Bank estimate, a sustained 1 per cent decline in the BRICS group would have a strong effect on other emerging economies, and potentially a decline of up to 0.4 per cent in global terms (World Bank 2016, p. 5). Fortunately, there was some return to growth in both Chinese imports and exports in 2016–17, with Chinese demand likely to drive a rise in future metal prices. Global economic growth is projected at around 2.9 per cent for the 2018–19 period, suggesting continued confidence in trade trends in spite of some increase in protectionism among advanced economies (World Bank 2017b). Likewise, projections for China’s long-term growth remain strong, with Australia’s 2017 white paper on foreign policy suggesting that China’s GDP (in PPP terms) in 2030 will be much larger than that of the US and the EU, circa $42.4 trillion versus $24 and $23.3 trillion, respectively (Australian Government 2017).

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Wider criticisms have been over a lack of transparency in many BRI projects, their geopolitical impact in favour of Chinese interests and, with the exception of the AIIB, a lack of convergence with accepted Western development and aid standards. The most prominent ‘belt bashing’ seems to come from US commentators, who see it as part of a geopolitical strategy designed to ensure Chinese influence against the US (Kaplan 2016). Roy D. Kamphausen (Vice President for Research at the National Bureau for Asian Research) outlined BRI’s strategic objectives before the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs (Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific) in November 2017: BRI is officially framed as a product of China’s benevolence and a friendly offer to neighboring countries to jump ‘aboard the Chinese development train’. Language touting ‘win–win’ outcomes and common goals language is readily apparent. But there are compelling reasons to believe that at its core BRI is in fact conceived in strategic terms as a means to secure China’s periphery, address internal security challenges with international linkages, and respond to challenges from the United States. The initiative sets the general long-term direction for China and seeks to mobilize and coordinate the use of all available national resources (political, economic, diplomatic, military, and ideological) to pursue internal (economic development) and external (diplomacy and national security) objectives in an integrated way. (Kamphausen 2017)

Beyond this, Roy Kamphausen suggested that the BRI may significantly increase China’s military and security footprint and is a gambit to ‘win without war’ by weakening an ‘adversary’s resistance’. He then goes on to note examples of ‘predatory aspects’ of the BRI process, including a lack of competitive bidding for the projects, the use of state subsidies to privilege Chinese companies, aid programmes that do not meet OECD standards, the provision of loans to unstable poorer countries, and limited or unknown uptake of local employment (Kamphausen 2017). This litany may be music to the ears of the US administration, but has not resonated with the widening network of countries joining the BRI and AIIB. Likewise, many European states and the EU seek improved governance within BRI by engaging with it and continuing negotiations with China over shared investment rules and an improved balance in trade (see Chapter 7). Kamphausen’s advice for the US to provide a counterbalance to China and continue to reform multilateral banks still seems cast in an adversarial framework, rather than selectively influencing or shaping Asian aspirations, as suggested by other commentators (Kamphausen 2017; Luft 2016; Mearsheimer and Walt 2016).

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The tendency for rapid expansion of political slogans and megaprojects under the BRI rubric has somewhat undermined its convincing narrative as a shared blueprint for development, with a tendency to ‘overburden the trunk’ of its core goals (Zeng 2017, p. 12). More needs to be done in convincing some partners that its ‘win–win’ agenda can manage environmental impacts and financial risks, and resolve political disputes (Dellios and Ferguson 2017). In this context, two major BRI dam projects have been frozen in late 2017. Pakistan has withdrawn from the $14 billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam deal with China due to concerns over terms of financing and level of Chinese control and ownership, while Nepal has scrapped a hydro-power project on the Budhi Gandaki River, perhaps with the expectation of future Indian rather than Chinese financing (Dorsey 2017; Rana 2017). Likewise, concerns have been raised about the impact of Chinese companies investing in Pakistan’s agricultural and textile sectors: Effectively turning Pakistan into a raw materials supplier rather than an added-value producer, a prerequisite for a sustainable textiles industry, the plan sees the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in China’s troubled north-western province of Xinjiang, as the vehicle for the introduction of mechanization as well as new technologies in Pakistani livestock breeding, development of hybrid varieties, and precision irrigation. Added value would be produced in Xinjiang as part of China’s bid to quell ethnic unrest among the Uighur population. The plan envisaged the Pakistani textile sector as a supplier of materials such as yarn and coarse cloth to textile manufacturers in Xinjiang. (Dorsey 2017)

The BRI certainly does have geopolitical implications, but the context is much wider than competition between the US and China. Part of this perception problem is that BRI is embedded in a long-term narrative of a ‘global civilization’ (running across material, political and ecological domains) in which China has a central economic and governance role signifying the end of US-led globalization based on the ‘Washington Consensus’ (Kenderdine 2017b; Hung et al. 2017). Deng Xiaoping’s adage about ‘crossing the river by feeling the stones’ seems sensible advice for gradual and partial reform, testing each step along the way. However, at some point one’s weight has to transfer from the next stone to the river bank, accepting that it is indeed solid and a new section of the journey has begun. China is exactly at that stage, almost fully committed to BRI as its new economic and geopolitical engine for the coming three decades. This is not so much a gamble as a calculated decision in the face of strong potential gains and attendant risks that need careful

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management. These activities are directed towards a 21st-century international and global environment that is supportive of China’s needs and aspirations. Such a transition requires continued learning and adaptation of China’s national institutions, its role in regional organizations, and participation in international frameworks.

CHINA’S INSTITUTIONAL LEARNING China is engaging is several paths of order-enhancing and order-reform at the global and regional levels. These can be categorized in diverse ways, including ‘reform from within’ existing systems, and ‘reform from outside’, leading to new or parallel institutions (Chen 2016b; see above). The need for increased Chinese engagement works in two related directions, first in ‘contributing to global financial and economic stability’ and second to take on ‘a bigger role in supporting global public goods’ (Brown 2016, p. 4). Both paths, however, make China increasingly a norm-maker and builder of institutions, with increasing learning and engagement via BRI pathways (Kizekova 2017). The logic of the BRI has been intentionally run as a flexible, multilevel invitation for cooperation. On this basis, one of the crucial components for successful progress of the BRI lies in China’s institutional learning in related organizations, both at governmental and multilateral levels. Likewise, the AIIB initiative follows a dual logic of the creation of a parallel organization working outside existing frameworks such as the World Bank and ADB, but nonetheless meeting many of the existing rules and expectations for multilateral banks (Gu 2017; Yang 2016). We can explore this creative strategy and related institutional learning in the track of the AIIB as a recent, China-led multilateral institution. Several caveats need to be made. First, the AIIB is a new player, officially launched from January 2016, and therefore does not yet have the long track record needed to judge its outcomes and wider impact, unlike many development banks. Second, related BRI objectives are general, and besides specific projects, it is hard to judge their success without clearly defined targets (Ghiasy and Zhou 2017). Third, AIIB itself has only provided a relatively small amount of total BRI funding at this stage, that is, $2 billion in outstanding loans out of a total of $292 billion at the end of 2016, though it plans to be able to disburse $10–15 billion annually in future years (Wildau and Ma 2017; Yang 2016; see further Chapter 6). Nonetheless, the process and management of the AIIB can give us some insight into important shifts in ‘internationalized’ patterns of Chinese governance.

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The AIIB was seen as an important entry into financial and developmental diplomacy, giving China a strong voice outside of the Westernbased World Bank and Japanese-led ADB. It was an early funding mechanism for BRI projects, with the Bank having a growing membership, with 84 members in December 2017. Recent members include Bahrain, Cyprus, Samoa, Bolivia, Chile, Greece and Romania, indicating the group’s wide geographical reach (Reuters 2017g). The AIIB initially aimed to provide $10 billion for BRI projects by 2018, but hopes to build the fund to the targeted $100 billion level, with over $93 billion accrued as of October 2017 (AIIB 2017). It was set up with transparent rules that abide by normal multilateral procedures, including wide-ranging environmental and social framework policies. In 2017 it achieved a ‘AAA/A-1+’ credit rating from S&P Global Ratings, with a stable outlook for the next two years based on its strong capital resources, the ability to deliver its mandate, strengthen its operational capacity, and adhere ‘to sound governance and risk management principles’ (Ekborn and Phua 2017). However, it should be noted that this soundness does not automatically apply to all BRI investment from China, with Moody’s slightly downgrading PRC’s ‘long-term local currency and foreign currency issuer ratings’ in May 2017 from A1 to Aa3 due to concerns over accrued systemic risks, partly in relation to rising debt levels and non-performing loans (Meltzer 2017; Moody’s 2017). The AIIB was unilaterally launched as an idea by the PRC from October 2013, but soon drew in 22 Asian countries to sign the Memorandum of Understanding in October 2014 (Gu 2017). Early interest from major European states in 2015 led to Beijing reducing its Asian regional emphasis, with it being promoted thereafter as an ‘open and inclusive’ organization with participation from countries in and outside the region (Yang 2016, p. 763). This was followed by a period of negotiation with a large number of stakeholders, including European experts, before finalizing its Articles of Agreement (AOA). Despite early criticism, it did not emerge as a narrow mechanism just for channelling PRC aid programmes, for stimulating its domestic economy, or for emphasizing the use of the renminbi internationally, since the AIIB allows the use of the US dollar as a leading currency (Yang 2016; Dollar 2015). Rather, the AIIB pivoted towards a multilateral framework with explicit principles of conduct, sharing of information among members, with expectations of ‘diffuse reciprocity’ whereby small and large states can work together in a cooperative international regime (Gu 2017; Ruggie 1982). It operates under the rubric of ‘lean, clean, and green’, has a slant toward helping developing member states, mandates a system of sustained consultation with stakeholders, uses open bidding on projects and special operations

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of the bank, and mandates support for ‘green economic growth’ (Gu 2017; AIIB 2016). That the AIIB was conceived of as a parallel and complementary organization can be seen in its stated mission of helping to bridge some of the existing gaps for infrastructure needs, first in Asia and then with other BRI partners, an effort that ‘supplements’ the operations of other organizations (AIIB 2016, p. 1). It was willing to engage in joint projects and co-financing with ‘peer institutions’, leading to it being welcomed by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, with over four joint projects approved at an early stage, and more than 26 pending throughout 2016 (Yang 2016). Beyond this, however, the AIIB also retained a clear Chinese and Asian mandate by creating a parallel organization that moved beyond US-led institutions, giving the PRC an enhanced status as a financial and developmental power (Yang 2016). It mandates that 75 per cent of its total authorized capital must come from Asia, with nine out of 12 board members from that region. The organization prefers consensus decision-making where possible, but uses different levels of majority voting where needed. China retains de facto veto on major decisions which require a 75 per cent majority (China controlled 27.5 per cent of votes in 2017), though 50 per cent can mandate a particular project’s approval (Yang 2016; Grieger 2016; Gu 2017). Chinese leaders have indicated that they will not use this veto indiscriminately, perhaps aware of the sustained criticism of inconsistent lending policies of the IMF based on political decisions in line with US interests and the desire to expand the neoliberal economic order (Yang 2016; Gu 2017; Onis 2004; Mussa 2002). However, Beijing continues to reject the full set of aid and donor rules specified by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD, even after a period of dialogue on these issues from 2009 (Yang 2016). Overall, it seems likely that the AIIB will offer loans more quickly and with less stringent constraints than most Western institutions, learning from past criticisms that the World Bank was far too risk-averse and too slow in approving projects (Dollar 2015). In turn, the AIIB has been criticized for lack of public consultation in the development of its environmental and social framework (though the framework itself does mandate consultation for Bank projects and operations), lack of clear oversight mechanisms in relation to these issues, and for allowing coal projects (Yang 2016; AIIB 2016). Its Environmental and Social Framework does show a clear awareness of the need to assess and monitor such risks, with an explicit concern over issues such as climate change, biodiversity, involuntary resettlement, the effect on indigenous peoples, and the dangers of irreversible or cumulative negative impacts (AIIB

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2016). Enforcement and review mechanisms are more vaguely outlined, with initial reviews and categorization conducted by the Bank, but with the ‘client’ given a leading role in preparation and management of these issues, using the Bank’s expertise as needed (AIIB 2016, pp. 9–10). It is this flexibility which may allow the AIIB to work more adaptively with clients at different levels of development, with an emphasis on stakeholder decision-making and effective implementation at the field level, rather than using a ‘one-model-fits-all’ approach. However, this very flexibility requires high-level expertise within the Bank itself (which seems to be the case at present) and effective, non-corrupt operations within partner corporations and states (more problematic). In sum, AIIB represents a balancing act of institutional learning and social creativity: The first and most obvious is that the new bank demonstrates further China’s dual-track approach to global governance. To create a more favourable environment wherein rising powers can enhance status and influence, China has started building novel institutions in parallel with its active push to modify the system from within. Second, in the setup of the AIIB, it can be argued that China largely respected international norms, rules and practices to allay doubt and gain legitimacy. Beijing was amenable to the concerns of established powers and modified its stance accordingly on a string of key issues. Third and finally, from the Chinese perspective, the role of the multilateral lender, as other structures proposed by Beijing, is not competitive or confrontational but critical and complementary. It serves as a helpful, legitimately distinctive alternative rather than aiming to undercut existing institutions. Following positive experiences with the AIIB, there is little doubt that China will proceed with similar strategic thinking in the near future in a bid to boost its standing as a great power relative to leading powers in the global economic landscape. (Yang 2016, p. 773)

There have already been some signs of the extensions of these principles into other forums. For example, China launched the establishment of the Global Infrastructure Connectivity Alliance at the 2016 G20 Summit (at Hangzhou), but was willing to see the secretariat of this group placed within the World Bank (Gu 2017). Overall, the AIIB can be seen as providing China with a parallel voice in development, supports infrastructure needs in Asia for BRI partners, but also gives an extra avenue for developing states underrepresented in existing international financial institutions. A level of institutional learning applies to many of China’s projects, ranging from the SCO agenda through to its successful multilateral cooperation on climate change and support for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The AIIB represents one of the clearest cases where, in spite of US opposition, China has been able to boost its

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credibility for a future leadership or co-leadership role in multilateral institutions (Callaghan and Hubbard 2016). This institutional learning has yet to fully inform all aspects of the BRI, but will become more important as it increasingly engages with the EU and European states (see Chapter 7).

THE EURASIAN HEARTLAND VERSUS THE EURO-ATLANTIC ORDER Another scenario that might emerge from a turbulent, de-globalized Eurasian future is a renewed pattern of regional competition, this time focused in alignments driven by a less confident China and a more assertive Russia. Indeed, Russian geopolitical thinking has to some degree promoted this idea via its ‘Greater Eurasia’ and the ‘Greater Eurasia Partnership’, seeking a zone of cooperation running from the Atlantic to the Pacific with Russia as a key player in regional affairs (Li 2017; Karaganov 2016b; Kirkham 2016; see Chapter 5). The likelihood of this scenario emerging is reduced by China’s more multilateral approach to world affairs, Russia’s limited power potentials, and slow progress for the EEU as a Russian hegemonic project. However, if even a partial collapse of BRI impacts on China’s confidence and political stability, then a more inward-turning, defensive and reactive PRC could consider closer alignment with Russia as a necessary option, especially if they both come under sustained pressure from US policies. This would give Russia a stronger leadership role in Eurasian security and military affairs, backed up by Chinese economic and foreign policy capabilities. Russia has long seen itself as playing a major role in diverse ‘geopolitical spaces’ that are crucial for its national interests and security, providing it with a wide sphere of operations as a global player. These include Eurasia as a whole, a traditional sphere of Russian influence across Central Asia and the Far East, an important role as a ‘European’ state within the Euro-Atlantic sphere, and an increasing need to engage in the Asia-Pacific both as an economic and security actor. Declining relations with NATO and the US, competition with the EU over spheres of economic integration in Eastern Europe, and the Ukraine crisis from 2013 on, have shifted the perception of these geopolitical spaces. Russia had hoped to retain the EU as a partner in many areas, with the US as its main geopolitical adversary (Svarin 2016). However, an enlarging NATO and an expanding EU neighbourhood policy impinged on Russian visions for Eurasian integration and its sphere of influence in Eastern Europe and the Caspian region. Russia increasingly recognized severe limitations in

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its ability to engage with the Euro-Atlantic sphere, in spite of the effort to influence policies within many European states. As a result, President Putin has had to focus on building a strong Russia mandated on its Eurasian mission, special development of Siberia and the Far East, and a need to further pivot towards Asia as a whole (Korolev and Huang 2017; Kirkham 2016). This combines statism as well as civilizational claims, linked to a network of organizations where Russia is dominant (CIS, EEU, CSTO) or at least has a major role (UNSC, SCO and BRICS). The focus on its great power status (derzhavnost), due to its unique historical role and culture, is deeply entrenched in both the current leadership and in Russian public opinion (Svarin 2016; see Chapter 5). For Russia to be one of the poles in any future multipolar order, it must remain a leader and ‘centre of gravity’ for Eurasia as a whole (Putin 2012b; Myers 2015, p. 412). This means not just enhancing its power across different domains and its bilateral networks, but also a push towards Russian-led Eurasian integration: Russia considers its centrality within Eurasia as a precondition for its strong role in global politics, especially with the recent moves in favour of establishing Eurasia as a geopolitical region governed by legitimate institutional links and thus responding to a broader tendency in global politics toward more institutionalized regionalism and supranational organizations. (Svarin 2016, p. 132)

Moscow has shifted its focus from seeking an integrated European security order inclusive of Russia, towards a ‘Greater Eurasia’ where it would opt for a leadership role in security issues and co-partnership economically with the PRC (Karaganov 2016b; Lukin 2015a). However, this remains a problematic agenda in many ways. Russia’s proactive approach to both Georgia and the Ukraine crises has stopped NATO enlargement, and slowed the EU’s ‘wider European’ agenda focused on creating rules of the game for economic relations across much of Eastern and Southeast Europe (Svarin 2016). However, the primary institutions for Russian leadership, the EEU and CSTO, remain somewhat limited in terms of membership and the degree to which Russia remains their predominant economic and military contributor (see Chapter 2). These are much weaker in total economic and diplomatic weight than the somewhat looser SCO and China’s BRI initiatives. Moscow’s grand vision has yet to be achieved, with uncertainty over Chinese acceptance of this mission, limits to Russia’s cultural and leadership abilities, and the failure to create a successful ‘counter-hegemonic’ narrative based on an inclusive Eurasian identity to gain traction against the West (Kirkham 2016).

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We can see some of these problems within the EEU itself, often assessed as an effort by Russia to create an alternative economic space and a competitive geopolitical framework to balance both the EU and the US (Lukin 2015b; Karaganov 2016b; Bratersky 2016; Sakwa 2016b). The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU, sometimes abbreviated as EAEU) comprises five members, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, with a focus on extending a customs union into a shared economic space with the harmonization of related legal frameworks, a single market for goods, services and eventually labour (Vinokurov 2017; Seisembayeva 2016). It has sought to expand its influence with external FTAs, beginning with Vietnam, with ongoing negotiations with China and other Asian states to enhance cooperation with the BRI agenda in 2016–17 (Marray 2017; Vinokurov 2017). In spite of some effort to build supranationalism into the EEU via its Court (with a focus on economic dispute resolution, operating from 2015), a membership system that does not give Russia automatic dominance in the Collegium of the EEU Commission, and an Interparliamentary Assembly, the organization has a long way to go either as a geopolitical or soft power instrument (Kirkham 2016; Podadera Rivera and Garashchuk 2016). The problems of the EEU in its still early phase of evolution are well known: Russia is the dominant economic partner (comprising around 80 per cent of total GDP), there is a lack of complementarity in the major economies leading to limited flows of intra-regional trade (mutual exports comprised only 10.8 per cent of total EEU exports in 2015), and the grouping’s shared tariff scheme may have initially advantaged Russia at the expense of the external trade patterns of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (Kirkham 2016, pp. 117–20; Bowring 2014). Likewise, the evolution by 2025 towards a single market for gas, oil and refined products will be a long and difficult process due to the strategic role of hydrocarbons in the larger EEU national economies (Vinokurov 2017). Aside from this, the EEU has limited sources of internal financial resources for new projects, and ironically, the EU remains its major trade partner, covering 51.9 per cent of the grouping trade flows in 2014 (Kirkham 2016, p. 122). The grouping remains reliant on European and Chinese investment for future expanded development and investment. Negotiations to link and harmonize EEU and BRI projects as an intercontinental partnership will reduce some of this imbalance, but will mean that the organization can no longer function as a direct channel for Russian foreign policy aspirations (see Chapter 6). The evolution of this kind of ‘continental partnership’ would require reforms to both organizations, mechanisms for rapid inter-governmental consultation, and formalized trade agreements to avoid unwanted competition among

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integration projects (see Bordachev et al. 2016; Galuzin 2016). Even the SCO, with India and China as members, might be a better framing network for shared Eurasian developmental goals than the EEU itself. From the perspective of a Russian hegemonic project for Eurasia as a whole, the EEU appears to lack the ideological foundations for a reflexive identity framework that would counter the strong national narratives and emerging multi-vector policies of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, let alone the divided identities of the Caspian and Black Sea regions (Rees and Williams 2017; Kirkham 2016; Diyarbakirlioglu and Yigit 2014). The strongest convergence is found with the foreign policy and security narratives of the political elites of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, but even here there have been growing concerns over the Ukraine crisis, currency devaluations, and Russian interventionism (Kudaibergenova 2016). Both the Georgian and Ukrainian conflicts indicated the willingness of Moscow to ‘protect’ Russian nationals abroad, but also the inability to find a higher, inclusive level of identity for Eurasian institutions. At best, the EEU has been able to build shared economic structures, and in future might be able to develop cultural projects that reduce prevailing levels of Russo-phobia (Kirkham 2016). However, this is far from the integrated platform needed as a counterweight to a Euro-Atlantic order. Furthermore, for ‘Greater Eurasia’ to emerge Russia will still need to improve its relations with the EU as a whole and systematically influence the security policy of several major European states. This rapprochement is still desired by Russian elites who hope to find partial convergences between the EU and EEU agenda in the long term (Svarin 2016). Likewise, efforts to engage NATO in a revised European security architecture have failed and Russia has opted for a strong pattern of deterrence combined with an information and propaganda offensive designed to mitigate US leadership, with NATO defined as a direct security threat (Bhadrakumar 2017; De Haas 2015; Lucas and Nimmo 2015; Antonenko and Yurgens 2011). In turn, the Trump administration, in spite of sporadic cooperation on issues such as anti-terrorism, continues to portray Russia as a threat to US capabilities, prosperity and to its political system (NSS 2017, pp. 8, 14, 27, 35, 37). Although Europe has moved toward a more elective form of trans-Atlanticism, this has not undermined NATO as the premier security provider for Western Europe, with an increasing if indirect role in Ukraine and the Mediterranean. Likewise, there is still a strong overlap between NATO values and the agenda of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, even if the EU wishes to have more room to operate independent missions. This means that the prospect for the creation of a distinct European geopolitical

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sphere outside of the Atlantic alliance remains poor. Rather, a new hard border between NATO and CSTO frameworks could emerge if military tensions continue to arise (NSS 2017, p. 26). A more likely outcome for Russia and the EEU is partial convergence with BRI as an evolving intercontinental partnership, with Moscow as an important but ‘second’ partner. In turn this opens up the prospect of an interregional, multipolar world embracing more dynamic and diverse groupings rather than a ‘Eurasian heartland’ versus Euro-Atlantic bipolar system. China thus becomes an essential player in overlapping patterns of trilateral and multilateral balancing, partly aligned with Russia but seeking greater influence in Europe and a better relationship with the US in the long term. Underneath these ‘great power relations’, a web of new economic, developmental and diplomatic agreements, bilateral and multilateral, are shifting China into a more active role as a Eurasian and global power. Alongside relations with Russia, the EU, India and the US, China has sought to improve relations with existing middle powers (in this context, South Korea, Indonesia, Turkey, Iran and Australia), and to forge strong bonds with putative rising states in Central Asia, including Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Beyond this, the PRC has forged over 47 special partnerships with a variety of states (small and large), as well as enhanced cooperation with over 67 countries through BRI processes, creating a networked web of relationships (see Chapter 1). The hyperactive relations-building of PRC diplomacy in recent years, forging new agreements with medium and small states across the globe and engaging more proactively in multilateral institutions, lays the basis for a multipolar system with high levels of power diffusion. This evolving pattern suggests that China’s future stability and improved governance capacity are crucial components of any revised global order.

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9. Conclusion: dystopic China or balanced order-building? We should not take the notion of a functional international order as a ‘given’: it is equally possible to posit a future, truly anarchic global system framed as much by disorder, discontent and war as by cooperative frameworks of governance. The normality of conflict in the international system, the idea of a global, ‘long-war’ against terrorism (Blannin 2017), and democracy and human rights as exceptions rather than the norm have become commonplace in the 21st-century experience. Debates in recent years have intensified over the fate of the ‘liberal world order’ largely shaped by the US, and whether powers such as China and Russia are willing to sustain some version of this order in the 21st century (Ikenberry 2011; Mazarr 2017; Nye 2017; Kurowska 2014). The status quo does not adequately provide for truly inclusive human development nor guarantee world peace. To be sustainable and inclusive, values within a global order should go beyond mere state interactions and embrace the aspirations of diverse social actors and a widely based view of human well-being. As suggested by Zhimin Chen of Fudan University, ‘world order could be defined as a set of sustainable arrangements in the international system to allow political entities, and the people within them, to enjoy a meaningful level of peace, welfare and justice’ (Chen 2016b, p. 776). As we have seen, China is actively preparing for a future in which it is increasingly a co-creator and shaper of a multipolar order in an at least ‘G2-Plus system’ (adapting Lo 2017a; Zeng and Breslin 2016). This means that China is at once adjusting to and in turn influencing globalization trends, largely through a reformist rather than a revisionist agenda, but also by creating parallel institutions that might allow the evolution toward a new set of global relations (Chen 2016b; Maher 2016). This effort has involved the projection of Chinese influence along several tracks: large-scale investment and financial outflows globally (peaking in 2016), mobilized in part around the BRI agenda, an increasing military capacity used as a proactive deterrent (‘active defence’) but also in UN and MOOTW operations, and a willingness to seek leadership at regional levels and on selected global issues (Bradsher 2017; Balding 231

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2017). If a reforming China succeeds in these tasks we can envisage an enhanced global order, with reinvigorated and funded international institutions operating through multilateral frameworks. However, a failure to seriously address transition risks could undermine this narrative of cooperation, reduce Chinese and global economic growth, and create hardened borders and increase competition across Eurasia. Though BRI and AIIB initiatives seem to be more pan-Asian in orientation, leading to a more integrated Asia rather than boosting Asia-Pacific cooperation (Feigenbaum 2017), this does not mean that China is ignoring its Pacific partners. There has been a continued effort to ‘sell’ the BRI concept to countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and even to the US itself, though its partial recognition of BRI in 2017 has been complicated by US–China trade tensions, US withdrawal from the TPP and increased criticism of Chinese economic practices (Hsu 2017; Meltzer 2017; NSS 2017). Likewise, a new ‘twoworld’ scenario based on Eurasian and American orders is highly dystopic for global governance, leading towards a new form of intensified bipolar competition (see Chapter 8). We can get a sense of whether China can help manage transition to a functional and cooperative multipolar order by reassessing how well it has managed its ‘Eurasian dilemmas’ (as outlined in Chapter 1). The first of these is the need to chart a path towards improved regional cooperation, policy convergence, and inclusive growth that draws in a wide range of players across Eurasia as a whole. This has been partly achieved through strong cooperation with Central Asian states driven by SCO security cooperation and by development along BRI corridors, with China becoming the largest trading partner for Uzbekistan and the second largest for Kazakhstan in 2016 (WITS 2017; DFAT 2017b). Strong relations with Iran, based on large resource imports and new investments, have been strengthened by the prospective move of Iran to full membership in the SCO, though the slowly evolving international North–South Transport Corridor linking India, Iran, the Caspian region and Russia could be seen as a partial alternative to CPEC networks (Yegorov 2016; Preston et al. 2016; Yousefi 2013; MINA 2017). Likewise, Turkey has expressed strong interest in improved engagement with the SCO and BRI initiatives, though public concern remains over the current trade imbalance in China’s favour (around $23 billion), PRC’s treatment of its Uighur minority and how far SCO engagement can be harmonized with NATO membership (Ehteshami and Horesh 2017; Brodie 2017; Dal 2017). Turkey may be able to gain some support for its aspiration to become an energy hub for oil and gas pipelines coming from the Middle East and Russia via the SCO Energy Club, but this remains a problematic

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agenda due to Middle East instability and European efforts to diversify its energy sources and mix. Turkey sees the BRI as compatible with its own developmental needs and its ideological shift towards a ‘postwestern’ international system, with Turkey providing east–west rail and road links forming a crucial part of Silk Road connectivity, dubbed the ‘Iron Silk Road’ (Dal 2017). Overall, however, this network of cooperation remains a patchwork of evolving bilateral relations, with the SCO too loose a framework to create an inclusive Eurasian security order unless deeper coordination evolves with the Russian-led CSTO (see Chapter 2). The SCO is now becoming more seriously institutionalized, but still lacks the policy convergence of the EU in the 1990s, the deep military coordination of NATO, or the tripartite ‘community’ structures of ASEAN (economic, political-security, and socio-cultural pillars). The SCO reveals gaps in terms of Eurasian inclusiveness (little or limited roles for Ukraine, Afghanistan and Mongolia), and needs to begin stronger dialogues with the EU and NATO if it wishes to manage wider Eurasian processes (see further Chapter 2). Likewise, in spite of recent Russian and Chinese diplomacy, the SCO remains unable to provide adequate future security for Afghanistan, with the Taliban and other militant groups still gaining ground and running major offensives in the country in 2016–18 (see Chapter 3). Afghanistan could have acted as a productive area of cooperation among NATO, EU and SCO, but this has remained limited by Western tensions with Russia and SCO concerns about external players in its territorial space (De Haas 2014). Unless deeper understandings emerge among the US, China and India, this negative trend is likely to continue. Russia, China and the SCO are coming to grips with non-traditional security challenges operating across Eurasia, but have been unable to reverse their root causes (Clarke 2016a and 2016b; see Chapter 3). Likewise, opposition from India to the geopolitical implications of CPEC and the Maritime Silk Road, combined with the EU desire to make BRI initiatives more transparent and rules-bound, have slowed but not stopped this pattern of incremental cooperation. China still needs to creatively engage, and eventually co-shape, Russia’s security and economic roles in Eurasia, without drifting into an entangling formal alliance (Charap et al. 2017; Carlson 2016). Engaging in costly and risk-prone hard balancing against the US and its allies (including NATO) might benefit Russia in the short term but would undermine China’s wider cooperative foreign policy goals (see Chapter 5). This shaping role is a problematic task for the PRC due to its non-interference principle, to the growing asymmetry in the relationship in China’s favour, and because of Russia’s need to ensure a respected

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place in the international system. Russia’s increasing engagement in BRI’s central and northern corridors provides China with economic influence, but Russia maintains strongly independent security and military policies, giving it considerable leverage in relation to Eastern Europe, the Caspian, wider Central Asia and the Middle East. A Russia–China, Central Asia cross-regional ‘confluence’ remains limited, but may become more important in future (Luzyanin 2016; Golunov 2017). The political cross-impact of the evolving China–Russia relationship on Europe needs further analysis, though Russia’s pivot to Asia and China – intensifying from 2012 – remains far from complete (Eder and Huotari 2016; Koldunova 2016). Increased cooperation by Europe with China might soften the harsh geopolitical division between Moscow and the EU, but trade diversion towards China could eventually lead to slowing of EU manufactured exports into Russia (Garcia-Herrero and Xu 2016). In general, China needs Russia to avoid further destabilization of regional cooperation with wider Europe and any ‘hot’ confrontation with the US. Put another way, for Russia to remain a geopolitical co-equal with China, it needs to develop a new grand strategy. This would include sustained economic reform and a new ‘format of cooperation’ that could reduce ‘zero-sum structures’ fracturing its relations with the US and Eurasian engagement with Western Europe (Diesen 2017, p. 159). A more diffuse but serious challenge is Eurasia’s tapestry of divergent cultures and civilizations, with the legacies of past empires and Cold War divisions leaving a fracture zone of borders, frontiers and underdeveloped regions (Cohen 2005; Lo 2015; Beckwith 2009). China has sought to reduce these tensions through relaunching the ‘Bandung Spirit’ of mutual benefit and non-interference, revived in recent speeches of Xi Jinping (Breuer 2017; Xi 2015; Dellios 2016a), and through the SCO’s Shanghai Spirit of ‘mutual trust, mutual advantage, equality, mutual consultations, respect for cultural variety’ (SCO 2002). These were further developed in the exposition of the Silk Road spirit of civilizational collaboration and sustainable development, an integral part of the BRI, thereby humanizing its initiatives (Xi 2017b; NDRC 2015). As expressed rather idealistically in the Preamble of the PRC’s Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road: More than two millennia ago the diligent and courageous people of Eurasia explored and opened up several routes of trade and cultural exchanges that linked the major civilizations of Asia, Europe and Africa, collectively called the Silk Road by later generations. For thousands of years, the Silk Road Spirit – ‘peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit’ – has been passed from generation to generation, promoted the progress of human civilization, and contributed greatly to the

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prosperity and development of the countries along the Silk Road. Symbolizing communication and cooperation between the East and the West, the Silk Road Spirit is a historic and cultural heritage shared by all countries around the world. In the 21st century, a new era marked by the theme of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, it is all the more important for us to carry on the Silk Road Spirit in face of the weak recovery of the global economy, and complex international and regional situations. (NDRC 2015)

Though important as a soft power initiative, it is not certain these civilizational agendas have fully taken root across Eurasian cultural interactions. Beyond tensions with militant Islam thought, perceptions of a new Chinese economic ‘takeover’ linger among Central and South Asian populations even as PRC investment is welcomed (Petersen 2013; Blank 2014). Likewise, Chinese political orientations remain either Sinocentric or globalist and have not evolved a distinctive vision of Eurasianism that would be compatible with Russian, Kazakhstani or Turkish perceptions (Emerson 2014; Eremina 2016). Aside from reviving the Silk Road and ‘Go West’ metaphors, the current Chinese leadership has focused on inter-civilization dialogue, not the formation of a truly supranational layer of identity that would bridge Chinese, Central Asian and European interests. Even Putin’s active mobilization of religious and conservative values via linkages to the Orthodox Church (Petro 2015) has limited resonance across the Eurasian landmass. In turn, the Russian ‘Eurasian civilization’ project has soft power limitations, though it does support the emergence of a multipolar and multilateral global system (Eremina 2016). All these goals would benefit from successful, accountable and inclusive progress on the BRI mega-project. However, as we have seen, this involves managing a wide range of environmental, developmental, security and human rights issues that will arise as investment, connectivity and increased trade transform Eurasian societies and states (see Chapter 6). To date, China has put sufficient initial funding and intellectual capital into BRI to make it one of the great engines of Eurasian development. However, doubt has emerged as to the future levels of funding China can provide, while problems in poorly managed human and environmental impacts have hindered some projects (for example in Pakistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka). Political instability for troubled areas of Africa, the Middle East and wider Central Asia suggest that the PRC may need to take on stronger security roles well beyond its existing frontiers (Dellios and Ferguson 2017). Even with the institutional learning demonstrated by China’s engagement in BRICS, the SCO and AIIB, China has some way

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to go in demonstrating secure governance that would make it the indispensable player in Eurasian affairs (see Chapter 8). It is clear that China will need to become more than just an East Asian or continental power to embrace a Eurasian future. China has already put serious effort into extending its maritime capabilities (see Ferguson and Dellios 2017, pp. 107–13; Erickson et al. 2009), but its interregional dynamic will need to extend beyond a concept of peripheral or corridor stabilization to sustain its reformed economy and positive outcomes for BRI. For a stable multipolar order to emerge, China will need to take on a more proactive role in security issues beyond its current engagement in the SCO, indirect support for Central Asian states and Afghanistan, and substantial UN peacekeeping efforts (Clarke 2016a; Wang 2016b; Panda 2014b; Ramani 2015). The most obvious example of this is the instability in the Korean Peninsula, with a looming confrontation as North Korea improves its missile and nuclear capabilities. The Trump administration has been insistent that it will not tolerate a direct nuclear threat to the US mainland, and has deployed extra naval forces in the region in late 2017. President Trump has tried to push China into a more assertive role, including tougher trade and oil sanctions on the DPRK. However, Beijing prefers a gradualist approach based on improved negotiations and mutual de-escalation of threats. In early December 2017 the US Secretary of State offered direct talks ‘without preconditions’, but also revealed that the US and China have had initial talks on how to secure North Korea’s nuclear weapons in the event of a collapse of the regime (Sevastopulo and Manson 2017). In turn, China sent a high-level diplomat, Song Tao, to Pyongyang, with hopes of urging negotiations before continued weapon tests, but with little response from North Korea through late 2017 (Perlez 2017). However, this does suggest the beginning of a more visibly active approach by the PRC to regional crises, with at least some contingency planning with other great powers. Put another way, a multilateral Eurasian order will need to take a leading role in managing adjacent and peripheral hot-spots including North Korea, Syria and Afghanistan. It remains to be seen whether 2018 leadership talks between North and South Korea, followed by the mid-year Trump–Kim summit, will allow a new phase of North–East Asian cooperation. What then, of the impact on global affairs? Eurasian trends suggest the gradual emergence of a post-Western multipolar process that nonetheless remains unbalanced and turbulent. Future scenarios, global and regional, often include the decisive influence of Chinese policies and trends, while other forecasters focus on Russia and the United States as leading protagonists, or the effect of a slowing world economy (see Preston et al. 2016; Laudicina 2016; GBPC 2016; Swaine et al. 2015; Melville and

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Timofeev 2010; Stein 2010). The great complexity of actors, institutions and interactions makes such predictions highly provisional and rapidly dated. In terms of our theme, Eurasia’s limited integrative trends point in two directions. If China can manage the dilemmas outlined above, then genuine progress on a more stable Eurasia would help the emergence of what has been dubbed as a new phase of globalization or ‘international society 3.0’, a less Western-centred international system but one still with progressive abilities to meet human security and global developmental challenges (GBPC 2016; Lu 2016; Hsu 2015; Nye 2017; Zhang 2014). China, emerging as the world’s largest economy and a state with growing influence across Eurasia, is an essential player in this endeavour. In such a system, multipolarity would be moderated by institutional multilateralism and the search for shared interests. Alternatively, a return to competitive geopolitics with low levels of global cooperation could undermine both the BRI and global aspirations for coping with underdevelopment, climate change and transnational conflict. Instead, growing confrontations might lead to a general rebound towards nationalism and defensive regionalism, with great powers seeking to control, with limited success, their own spheres of interest. This would at best be a ‘multiplex order’ with a greater role for middle powers, smaller states and other actors (Tay et al. 2017; Acharya 2014), but would not create a stable world system. The possibility of a more competitive and tense global order seems quite likely when we look at President Trump’s National Security Strategy of the United States of America, released in December 2017. This policy document, though allowing for influence through allies and partnerships, displays a strong emphasis on competitive diplomacy, military advantage, economic competition and energy dominance. Both Russia and China are largely portrayed as adversaries, undermining US influence and relatively capacities (NSS 2017, pp. 8, 12, 21, 27–8, 35, 38, 47, 50–53; see Chapter 8). Such views, if transformed into containment policies, could well push Eurasia and China towards a dystopic future in which cooperative economic and institutional gains are undermined. Crucially, China needs to be given a chance to fulfil its emerging role in a new Eurasia, even if this involves hard bargaining, institutional learning, political reform and gradual power-sharing at the regional and global levels. Otherwise, we could see the beginnings of another ‘long century’ of disorder, conflict, warfare and human impoverishment. Fortunately, China has begun a process of Eurasian cooperation that contributes to the beginnings of a sustainable global order.

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