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China, The United States, and the Future of Central Asia

China, The United States, and the Future of Central Asia: U.S.-China Relations, Volume I

Edited by David B. H. Denoon
Nazgul Jenish
Marlene Laruelle
Andrew Kuchins
Shalini Sharan
Li Xin
Xin Daleng
Xing Guangcheng
Alisher Khamidov
Sebastien Peyrouse
Edward J. Lincoln
Gulshan Sachdeva
Joshua W. Walker
Richard Pomfret
Pan Guang
Carolyn Kissane
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 464
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    China, The United States, and the Future of Central Asia
    Book Description:

    The first of a three-volume series on the interaction of the US and China in different regions of the world,China, the United States, and the Future of Central Asiaexplores the delicate balance of competing foreign interests in this resource-rich and politically tumultuous region. Editor David Denoon and his internationally renowned set of contributors assess the different objectives and strategies the U.S. and China deploy in the region and examine how the two world powers are indirectly competitive with one another for influence in Central Asia. While the US is focused on maintaining and supporting its military forces in neighboring states, China has its sights on procuring natural resources for its fast-growing economy and preventing the expansion of fundamentalist Islam inside its borders.

    This book covers important issues such as the creation of international gas pipelines, the challenges of building crucial transcontinental roadways that must pass through countries facing insurgencies, the efforts of the US and China to encourage and provide better security in the region, and how the Central Asian countries themselves view their role in international politics and the global economy. The book also covers key outside powers with influence in the region; Russia, with its historical ties to the many Central Asian countries that used to belong to the USSR, is perhaps the biggest international presence in the area, and other countries on the region's periphery like Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, and India have a stake in the fortunes and future of Central Asia as well. A comprehensive, original, and up-to-date collection, this book is a wide-ranging look from noted scholars at a vital part of the world which is likely to receive more attention and face greater instability as NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan.

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-0944-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Finance

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)

    • 1 Alternative Views of Central Asia’s Future
      (pp. 3-19)

      The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to the creation of five newly independent states in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Each of these states had been conquered by imperial Russia and subsequently was tightly controlled by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The process of establishing themselves as truly autonomous states has been the central enterprise for these five countries in the last twenty-two years.

      The demise of the USSR also led to dramatic changes in the global strategic environment: the Warsaw Pact unraveled, the Soviet Union itself splintered into numerous states, and the...

    • 2 Walls and Windmills: Economic Development in Central Asia
      (pp. 20-74)

      Nestled in the heart of the Eurasian continent, Central Asia¹ is a key geographic nexus between the world’s most dynamic economies of China, India, and Russia. Within this nexus lies an intricate knot of geopolitical, economic, and security challenges and opportunities that may shape the future of the entire continent.

      Since ancient times, Central Asia’s location at the crossroads of Asia and Europe has largely determined its role and interaction with the rest of the world. From early antiquity to the High Middle Ages, Central Asia was a land of nomadic tribes that generated waves of massive human migration sweeping...

    • 3 Factoring the Foreign Policy Goals of the Central Asian States
      (pp. 75-98)

      In academic works and the media, Central Asia is almost systematically presented as a region in thrall to the games of the great powers, a passive object of external projections that it cannot influence, and a region incapable of developing its own narrative on international affairs. This distorted image, at once inscribed in the memory of the nineteenth-century “Great Game” and an overly Western-centric view of international relations, does not correspond to reality. The contemporary Central Asian states cannot be reduced to simple objects of rivalry between the great powers. They are not mere passive recipients of external influences—colonial...


    • 4 Both Epicenter and Periphery: U.S. Interests in Central Asia
      (pp. 101-129)

      The strategic landscape of Eurasia is rapidly changing, and Central Asia is literally at its geographical epicenter.¹ More than twenty years past the collapse of the Soviet Union, one can agree with Vladimir Putin’s recent pronouncement that the “post-Soviet era is over” in Eurasia. This period was marked by a reluctant Russian strategic retreat, and geopolitical competition that was usually framed as Russian interests contesting those of the United States and the West in a modern version of the nineteenth-century “Great Game.” A new and wider set of emerging powers in Eurasia contends with U.S. and Western interests, and the...

    • 5 Chinese and Russian Economic Interests in Central Asia: Comparative Analysis
      (pp. 130-153)

      Since the twenty-first century began, with the further development of cooperation between China and Central Asia, we often hear about the “China threat theory” in Russia and Central Asia. It has had largely negative effects on China’s image in this area and on cooperation between China and Central Asia by exaggerating Chinese interests, presence, and expansion in Central Asia. Russian economic interests in Central Asia mainly work under the assumption that by strengthening economic cooperation with Central Asia, it will finally form a Eurasian economic integration or Eurasian alliance with Central Asia, and promote the development of the Russian domestic...

    • 6 The Strategic Interests of China and Russia in Central Asia
      (pp. 154-172)

      From a geopolitical point of view, every major power is exerting some influence in Central Asia. America has great influence; Europe has some influence; India, Japan, Turkey, and Iran are also exerting influence in Central Asia to a lesser extent. It cannot be denied that Russia still has the greatest influence on Central Asia. Russia’s influence covers almost all fields and areas. Politically, Russia and most Central Asian countries have strategic or even quasi-alliance relations.¹ Economically, most of Central Asia’s energy exports head north to Russia, and Russian energy companies almost completely control the up- and downstream production lines of...

    • 7 Life after Divorce: Russia, Central Asia, and Two Decades of Tumultuous Relations
      (pp. 173-208)

      It was like déjà vu all over again. In early April 2010, Kyrgyzstan witnessed mass protests that led to the ouster of Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiev. Five years before, in March 2005, Kyrgyz opposition groups toppled Askar Akaev, Kyrgyzstan’s first president since 1991, in what later became known as the Tulip Revolution. These two revolutions shared some commonalities, but the engines that drove them differed. If the Tulip Revolution was the result of internal struggles between the authoritarian president and disgruntled opposition groups,¹ the violent regime change in April 2010, as some commentators claim, was sparked by actions of an...

    • 8 Europe in Central Asia: Political Idealism and Economic Pragmatism
      (pp. 209-236)

      Despite the absence of shared borders, Europe and Central Asia have many interests in common. Located on the same continent, with only Russia or—more complex—South Caucasus as an intermediary, both regions could build mutually advantageous strategies in terms of trade and investments (particularly as the Central Asian economies need European technological and industrial know-how), develop the export of Central Asian hydrocarbons and minerals to Europe, and work together on shared human security issues like migration, refugees, food safety, improvement of environmental security, and so on. Europe is also interested in helping the Central Asian states to develop their...

    • 9 Japan and Korea in Central Asia: Economic Observations
      (pp. 237-261)

      Japan and the Republic of Korea¹ are two large, affluent, market-based economies in Asia, sitting geographically on the eastern edge of the region. An important question is the nature of their relationship with Central Asia. How does their involvement compare to that of the major strategic players such as China, the United States, or Russia? As large, advanced economies, they certainly have the potential to be both a market for Central Asia (at least for raw materials) and a source of imports, inward direct investment, foreign aid, and general foreign policy attention. This chapter will argue that, with several partial...

    • 10 India’s Objectives in Central Asia
      (pp. 262-295)

      Indian policy makers and analysts believe that the Central Asian region is important because of old cultural and civilizational linkages; its strategic location;¹ energy resources; and trade and economic opportunities. India has a rich tradition of scholarship on Central Asia. Traditionally, most of the academic work on Central Asia in India was concentrated either on historical and cultural linkages between the two regions or part of the broader study of the Soviet Union.² In the last two decades, new research based on geopolitics and geo-economics in Central Asia has emerged in India. Although a large part of the discourse is...

    • 11 Ambitions of Grandeur: Understanding Turkey’s Foreign Policy in a Changing World
      (pp. 296-322)

      A key ally of the United States, long-standing member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and a candidate for membership in the European Union (EU), Turkey has strong ties to the West in a volatile yet strategic region of the world. Turkey sits geographically at the crossroads of Eurasia, but has only in the last decade of the post–Cold War environment assumed the confidence and trappings of a geopolitically pivotal player. As a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council from 2008 to 2010, a G-20 founding member since 2008, and holder of the post of secretary...


    • 12 Alternative Futures for Central Asia: How Far Will Integration and Cooperation Proceed?
      (pp. 325-346)

      Until the five Central Asian countries became independent in December 1991, they were part of the integrated economic space of the Soviet Union without internal borders. In the Soviet system they were open economies, with export/output ratios similar to those of Canadian provinces, but 85–90 percent of their trade was with other Soviet republics. Roads and railways led north or west to the Russian republic, and the eastern and southern borders of the Soviet Union were effectively closed to trade.¹

      The huge unanticipated shock of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991 was followed by over a...

    • 13 The Development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization: The Impact on China-U.S. Relations in Central Asia
      (pp. 347-365)

      China has established a strategic good-neighborly relationship with the post-Soviet Russia and Central Asian states. The process of the “Shanghai Five”—Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)¹—has transformed this new relationship into a stable multilateral mechanism. Despite great achievements, however, the SCO faces serious challenges in its second decade. Alongside these grim challenges, the SCO also faces a number of opportunities. At the same time, the SCO has become a factor of major importance in China—U.S. relations in Central Asia.

      China established close contact with Central Asia through the Silk Road trading route as early as two thousand years ago....

    • 14 The Quest for Energy Security in the Central Asian “Neighborhood”
      (pp. 366-394)

      Arthur Conolly, an intelligence officer with the British East India Company, coined the term “the Great Game” in the nineteenth century to describe the competition for control of territory and resources between the British and Russian Empires. Fierce rivalries lie at the heart of the narrative, with the Central Asian region serving as a battleground for control over strategically valuable terrain. The emergence of new players after the dissolution of the Soviet Union begs the question, Is the region still immersed in the Great Game? If so, then China joins the rivalries between Russia and the United States. Each competes...


    • 15 Uncertainty Ahead: China Rising, U.S. Fatigued, and Central Asia Waiting on New Alignments
      (pp. 397-418)

      When the five Central Asian states became independent in 1991 there was a surge of optimism in the West. A region of the world that had long been subjected to imperial Russian and Soviet power had a chance of becoming autonomous, and many thought it would be democratic as well. Two decades later, it is clear that those expectations were overly optimistic.

      The Central Asian states are indeed independent, but they are definitely not autonomous, and only one of the five, Kyrgyzstan, is democratic. Also, there is no question that Russia maintains a subtle but pervasive political and military influence...

    (pp. 419-424)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 425-445)