China Diplomacy towards Central Asia
1. 1 China Diplomacy towards Central Asia
In order to encompass the scope of the Chinese foreign policy towards central Asia we underline two dimensions: the bilateral relations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), since it has been the multilateral device for China’s diplomacy in the region. Regarding the latter, the SCO, created in 2001, gathers four former Asian Soviet Republics - Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan- and the two major powers in the region: China and Russia. Built upon the “Shanghai Five” (formed in 1996 with the current member states except Uzbekistan), the SCO expands the initial objectives of the former group- confidence-building measure and cooperation on border delineation issues. The SCO sets up three enemies, the “three evil forces of terrorism, extremism, and separatism, the last being a thinly disguised reference to violent Islamic radicalism”. In terms of power politics, “In the eyes of Russian and Chinese policymakers, then, the SCO was a way to seal the strategic Sino-Russian dominance over Central Asia while engaging in friendly relations with their Central Asian neighbors.” (Yom 2002) Even if the three “enemies” may be considered as common threats to the six countries, it also important to highlight that Russia and China aim to confront and deter the US power in the region, which has increased dramatically after the was campaign in Afghanistan, with the new military bases in three countries of the SCO: Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (the last two with borders with China). It is true that the presence of the USA In the region that was considered by Russia and China as its natural sphere of influence, injects a new dynamic for regional politics. Indeed what is happening in Central Asia recalls the classical balance of power of the realist approach on international relations. Michael Doyle ( 1997, 161)considers that, despite the different features of the diverse schools of the realism – structuralism of Hobbes, Fundamentalism of Machiavelli, Constitutionalism of Rousseau or Complex realism of Thucydides- “all recognize that the balance of power that the balance of power is a result that all prudent states should aim to achieve if they cannot do better”. In a realist point of view what seems to be, in the wording of the agreements and in the public discourses of the political leaders, a collective security system (which has to be distinguished from balance of power) is increasingly becoming a way of balancing the US power in the region. By balance of power in a narrow approach we mean “the interaction among states that assures the survival of the system by preventing the empire of hegemony of any state or coalition of states”(1997, 162). And in this particular issue China may have reasons to be worried about an encirclement of American military forces and influence, since besides having military bases in four of China’s bordering countries – Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan – the US is relaunching its relations with India. On the rationale of the Chinese foreign policy in Central Asia, the secessionist threat in the Uygur Province of Xinjiang plays a crucial role, as this region is inhabited by the uygurs, a Muslim minority, part of which is supposed to be linked with other fundamentalist Islamic movements operation in Central Asia. In this case, China took advantage of the post September 11th 2001 US war on terrorism, aiming to have carte blanche to deal with the situation. The important the bulk of oil and natural gas in the Caspian region has been regarded by the Chinese authorities as a way to stabilize and diversify its energy supply.
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Europe and China in Central Asia
Energy Supply Security Policy: the New Challenges
The Geopolitics of Central Asia
Oil and Natural Gas in Central Asia
Excertos adaptados de um ensaio escrito no âmbito do
Master in European Studies do Instituto de Estudos Europeus de Macau.