Showing posts with label New-Silk-Road. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New-Silk-Road. Show all posts

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Courting Central Asia

The U.S. Department of State's New Silk Road Strategy is long on talk but short on results. The United States is pushing for regional stability in Central Asia while Russia - coming in from the west tries to increase its influence; and China - coming in from the east is promoting its economic infrastructure development with its own "New Silk Road" initiative. The Central Asian states are hedging their bets - broadening their security efforts beyond the small assurance that the current Obama administration is providing. In the later part of April 2015 elite special forces units from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan were conducting joint military exercises in northern Kyrgyzstan. The exercises were intended to practice fighting illegal armed groups and terrorists. In addition, the establishment by China (joined by many other nations) of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an important factor. The AIIB is a direct competitor to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that is dominated by the United States. This new financial institution will provide an opportunity for China to increase its influence within Central Asia. The United States influence and standing in the Central Asian states is slowly slipping in comparison to the growing interest of Russia and China in the region. Read more in "How China is 'Winning' Central Asia", by John C. K. Daly, Silk Road Reporters, April 29, 2015.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

China Plans $16 Billion Fund of New Silk Road

In an endeavor which will surely impact Afghanistan, China is committing over $16 billion dollars to finance construction of infrastructure linking its markets to three continents utilizing a re-established "New Silk Road". The fund will be used to build and expand railways, roads, and pipelines in Chinese provinces that are part of the overall plan to facilitate trade over land and shipping routes. The land route will travel over parts of Central Asia and will will help Afghanistan in direct and indirect ways. The old Silk Road was a trade route (think camels) that went from China (and some say India) to Venice (Afghanistan was one of the way points). Xinjiang province, in western China, will have a prominent role to play in the new economic belt and New Silk Road. Read more in "China planning $16.3 Billion Fund for 'New Silk Road'", Bloomberg News, November 4, 2014.

Friday, November 7, 2014

China Replaces NATO?

Now that Operation Enduring Freedom is approaching the end of mission (December 2014), the insurgents have been defeated, the terrorist safe havens have been cleared, and al Qaeda has been eliminated we wonder who will reap the benefits of this hard 13-year long hard-fought victory. While we were slogging it out on the battlefield, suffering numerous deaths and wounded, and spending our money - someone was on the sidelines waiting to pick up the pieces and reap the benefits. Can you spell C - H - I - N -A? Watch for it. China has been slowly picking up its diplomatic activity with Afghanistan. It has cautiously invested in economic activities such as Afghanistan's extensive mineral wealth (see Mes Aynak copper mine). It has engaged other South Asian nations (India and Pakistan) to encourage regional stability. China has become very westward looking in its diplomacy and economic engagement (not Europe, but Central Asia) especially with the re-invention of the Silk Road. Of course, there are some security concerns as well. China, due to its subjugation of the Muslims in its western province of Xinjiang, wants to ensure that an unstable Afghanistan does not become a sanctuary for jihadists. Apparently it sees the problems that insurgents who have sanctuary in Pakistan can cause security forces in Afghanistan (something that ISAF could never seem to fix). Learn more in "Afghanistan: Out with NATO, in with China?", The Christian Science Monitor, October 28, 2014.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Experts Skeptical of New Silk Road

The United States rolled out the New Silk Road Strategy (NSRS) a few years back as one of the ways of filling the void of a diminished United States military presence in Afghanistan. The intent was to link the Central Asian states together (along with Afghanistan) in trade in an effort to increase economic activity and strengthen economies. The outcome would provide a stronger economy for Afghanistan which would cut into the support insurgents would enjoy from the population. However there are doubts that the NSRS will work. Read more in "Following the New Silk Road", The Diplomat, October 22, 2014.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

U.S. "New Silk Road Strategy" Hits Deadend

In 2011 the United States Department of State (under Secretary of State Clinton) rolled out the "New Silk Road Strategy" or NSRS. The intent was to re-establish Afghanistan as the trade cross-roads for economic activity - tying the products of Central Asia (water, gas, oil, electricity, and consumer goods) to the populations of South Asia (India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan) through Afghanistan. Much talk was made about how this would help the economy of Afghanistan (and eliminate some of the underlying root causes of the insurgency) but little investment was made on the part of the United States. It seems, however, that both Russia and China see the importance of a "New Silk Road"; but not necessarily in the context of benefiting Afghanistan. Read more in "The United States' Silk Road to Nowhere", Foreign Policy, September 29, 2014.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Silk Road: China and Afghanistan

China is the worlds' second largest economic power. It has ambitions of establishing itself economically in Asia so that it can sustain its economy for many years to come. Part of this ambition is the extension of trade, access to raw materials and energy sources, economic power, military power, and the securing of water rights and sea lanes in the Pacific (especially in the East China Sea and South China Sea). However, often overlooked is China's expansion to the west. It has engaged in closer economic ties with Pakistan, is actively working in the further development of the "New Silk Road" in the Central Asian States, and working to improve ties with Afghanistan.

The New Silk Road has a lot of players cooperating and competing with each other. China's interest is obvious - the ability to market goods, establishment of transportation corridors (railways and roadways), access to the gas and oil fields of Central Asia, and access to the minerals found in large amounts in Afghanistan. Russia wishes to remain the dominant force (economically, politically, and militarily) in the Central Asian States (former entities of the Soviet Union) - so it competes to an extent with China. And of course, there is the aspect of the United States trying to maintain some influence in the area - although it is at a distinct disadvantage geographically.

China and Afghanistan. There will soon be a void in Afghanistan - both politically, economically, and militarily. This will be especially true if the Bilateral Security Agreement is not signed and the NATO countries decide not to take part in the Resolute Security mission. China has an interest in a stable, secure, and economically prosperous Afghanistan. It has sat out the conflict and may soon be one of the few nations to benefit from the long-term NATO engagement in Afghanistan. Under the radar China has been carefully increasing its ties with Afghanistan.

Read more on this topic in "China's Westward Strategy", The Diplomat, January 15, 2014.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Rail Lines to Boost China Trade Along New Silk Road

The soon to be built railroads along the steppes of Asia will be the economic life line for China to Europe and beyond. While the United States is moving its attention away from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East and focusing on the Pacific; China is looking in many directions. One of these directions is to China's west in the vicinity of Central Asia. The railroads being built in Afghanistan and in other parts of Central Asia will provide access to markets for China. This will be the new silk road for China. Read more on this topic in "New Rail Links to Boost China's Western Access", The Diplomat, December 27, 2013.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The New Silk Road - Another Look at State Rhetoric?

The New Silk Road Strategy (NSRS) of the United States has had a rough start with its share of detractors. Here is another view of the NSRS and its implications for the politics of Central (and South) Asia. See "The U.S. In post-2014 Central Asia: New Silk Road or Geopolitics", The Bug Pit,, December 20, 2013.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

CASA-1000 and The New Silk Road (The Diplomat, Dec 18, 2013)

Eugene Imas has penned an article in The Diplomat entitled "The New Silk Road to Nowhere" published December 18, 2013. The thrust of the article is the pitfalls associated with the CASA-1000 electrical transmission line construction in Central Asia. The CASA-1000 is associated with the U.S. State Departments New Silk Road Strategy. This transmission line will stretch 759 miles and connect surplus hydroelectricity in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to customers in Afghanistan (and Pakistan). Ideally the project will provide some economic benefit to the Central Asian states as well as to Afghanistan; and with economic development hopefully comes additional stability for the area. Unfortunately there are political, economic and security realities that may threaten the realization and benefits of the expensive project. Learn more in the article at the link below.

Friday, March 15, 2013

New Silk Road - Comments by DoS Asst Secretary

The Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs of the Department of State recently addressed the Turkic American Convention in Washington, DC (on March 13, 2013). He spoke at length about the New Silk Road initiative taking place in Central Asia. In his remarks he indicated that the New Silk Road project will do a lot to improve the economy of the region as well as benefit Afghanistan.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Romania and the New Silk Road

Romania, as a troop-contributing-nation of ISAF, has been a staunch ally of the United States in the Afghan conflict. Currently Romania has special operations forces and Military Advisor Teams (SFAATs) deployed in Afghanistan. Along with the fight in Afghanistan, Romania is also involved in the larger stabilization effort of the greater Central Asia region (which indirectly will benefit Afghanistan). Notable among these efforts is Romania's involvement with the New Silk Road. See more on this topic in "The New Silk Road - The Role of a U.S. Strategic Partner: Romania", George Marshall Fund, March 4, 2013.

What is the Future of US in Central Asia After Afghanistan?

Some observers of Central Asia are speculating on what the United States commitment to the region will be once the Afghan war concludes (or at least when ISAF departs in 2014). There is concern that the U.S. will leave a gap by forgetting about Central Asia. The U.S. State Department has been promoting its future involvement through the New Silk Road Strategy (NSRS). Some academics and others have been wondering what this really means. Read on article on the topic in "The US in Central Asia: Beyond Afghanistan?", By Dr Stephen Blank,, March 8, 2013.