Under the ambitious leadership of President Xi Jinping, China is zealously transforming its wealth and economic power into potent tools of global political influence. But China's foreign policy initiatives, even the vaunted "Belt and Road," will be shaped and redefined as they confront the ground realities of local and regional politics outside China. In China's Western Horizon, Daniel S. Markey, a scholar of international relations and former member of the U.S. State Department's policy planning staff, previews how China's efforts are likely to play out across the swath of Eurasia that includes South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Drawing from extensive interviews, travels, and historical research, Markey describes how perceptions of China vary widely within states such as Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Iran. Powerful and privileged groups across the region often expect to profit from their connections to China, while others fear commercial and political losses. Similarly, Eurasian statesmen are scrambling to harness China's energy purchases, arms sales, and infrastructure investment. These leaders are working with China in order to outdo their strategic competitors, including India and Saudi Arabia, and simultaneously negotiating relations with Russia and America. On balance, Markey anticipates that China's deepening involvement will play to the advantage of regional strongmen and exacerbate the political tensions within and among Eurasian states. To make the most of America's limited influence in China's backyard (and elsewhere), he argues that U.S. policymakers should pursue a selective and localized strategy to serve America's specific aims in Eurasia and to better compete with China over the long run.
China’s rapid economic development over the past three decades has enabled Beijing to spread its wings abroad, allowing the trading giant to secure its routes to world markets.
Most of China’s trade with the rest of the world is through maritime links that connect Chinese ports on the eastern seaboard and pass through the narrow and vulnerable strait of Malacca. With few friends in the region, China needs to protect its crude oil and commodities imports as well as trillions of dollars of goods exports.
With its newfound wealth and rising confidence, China has a strong desire to build alternative routes to markets in Europe, increasingly looking at its western border and overland routes passing through Eurasia.
In China’s Western Horizon, Professor Daniel S. Markey provides a comprehensive review of China’s western neighbors and the strategic challenges facing Beijing. He sheds much-needed light on a region of the world that is often forgotten and is rarely a priority of today’s leading powers.
Pakistan, once the focal point of the Chinese western border strategy, has been thrown in turmoil as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is facing significant hurdles on the ground. Realities are no different in Kazakhstan and in other smaller neighboring nations. However, China has increasingly played a key role in supporting the ambitions of rival regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia in an attempt to become a new strategic alternative in the region.
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Daniel S. Markey is a senior research professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and the academic director of the SAIS Global Policy Program. From 2007-2015, he was senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. While there, he wrote a book on the future of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, No Exit from Pakistan. From 2003 to 2007, Dr. Markey held the South Asia portfolio on the Secretary's Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State.