April 13, 2018

Silk Road Headlines

Silk Road Headlines

11 April 2018

Source: Louis Vest/flickr

 Among the news items and analyses from this week, a CSIS report provides an in-depth look into the economic and geostrategic implications of the oft-overlooked ‘maritime’ side of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) [China’s Maritime Silk Road: Strategic and Economic Implications for the Indo-Pacific Region]. The authors analyse four key maritime infrastructure projects along the Maritime Silk Road (MSR), in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Iran respectively, and conclude that - as of now - China’s approach is constantly evolving, and this is reflected in the ‘mixed’ economic/geostrategic nature of its MSR goals.

A second article [Climbing on China’s Priority List: Views on Afghanistan from Beijing]also builds on China’s expanding regional and global role via the BRI, but focuses more on the ‘land route’ side of the initiative, specifically looking into Beijing’s regional policy transition from ‘strict non-interference’ to a still ill-defined ‘constructive engagement’. Specifically, it highlights the case of Afghanistan to stress how, as the BRI unfolds and connectivity increases, China’s interests in stronger ties with previously less ‘relevant’ countries are also on the rise. While Afghanistan's role on Beijing’s agenda is still relatively marginal, especially if compared with that of neighbouring Pakistan, its geostrategic location between two key BRI corridors (China-Central Asia and China-Pakistan), together with the country’s high degree of security volatility, has led to greater Chinese engagement in recent years. For example, 2016 saw the launch of the Quadrilateral Cooperative and Coordination Mechanism (QCCM): an anti-terrorism initiative involving China, Pakistan, Tajikistan and - indeed - Afghanistan, which includes regular information sharing and joint border patrols. As BRI-related links across the region and through the country thicken, it is likely that Kabul’s standing on China’s priority list will continue its climb, thereby confirming the strong interdependence between security-related initiatives and the broader success of China’s flagship global engagement endeavour.

Francesco S. Montesano

This week's Silk Road Headlines

Asia After Trump [China US Focus]

Climbing on China’s Priority List: Views on Afghanistan from Beijing [Afghanistan Analysts Network

Can China Realize Africa’s Dream of an East-West Transport Link? [Jamestown Foundation]

Algeria on the new Silk Roads [OBOReurope

China Sets Its Sights on South America [Hudson Institute)

China eyes Vanuatu military base in plan with global ramifications [Sydney Morning Herald]

Nepal Joining China’s OBOR Will Be Historical Mistake [Eurasia Review]

India agrees to open waterways, rail link to Nepal capital [Reuters]

Chinese belts and roads stir mixed reactions in Europe [Lowy Institute]

China’s Maritime Silk Road: Strategic and Economic Implications for the Indo-Pacific Region [CSIS]

To increase awareness of and facilitate the debate on China's Belt and Road Initiative, the Clingendael Institute publishes Silk Road Headlines, a weekly update on relevant news articles from open sources.

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