18:50 GMT +318 July 2019
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    Silk Road to Link Asia to Europe, Strengthen Continental Powers

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    China views Europe as the other end of the Silk Road Economic Belt; by bringing China closer to European markets, the Beijing project is both threatening European industries and providing Europe with new opportunities, Rafaello Pantucci pointed out.

    China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative has already become the cornerstone of Xi Jinping's foreign policy: the Silk Road Economic Belt aims to facilitate the economic development of nations along the route as well as to strengthen China's geopolitical position.

    "Initiated as part of a strategy to develop China's western regions, the idea was to help reconnect Xinjiang to Central Asia, and ultimately through the region to European markets. For Beijing, Europe is the other end of the Silk Road Economic Belt," emphasized Rafaello Pantucci, Director of International Security Studies at the UK-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

    According to the expert, "an economic force is sweeping along the Silk Road bringing China ever closer to European markets." Predictably, some European decision-makers fear that the flow of Chinese goods will pose a substantial threat to European industries.

    "But this is a dynamic that is going to happen anyway and is already underway. Far better to try to focus on the other side of the equation and the potential opportunities," the expert emphasized.

    Rafaello Pantucci underscored that high-end luxurious European goods "can travel back along this route" to swiftly growing Chinese middle class and elite. At the same time, Europe can contribute to the economic development of the countries along the "Silk Road."

    Indeed, Xi Jinping's initiative is supposed to cement economic ties within the Eurasian continent and facilitate the economic growth of both Asian and European powers, including Russia and former Soviet Republics, by providing them with unique opportunities.

    "For Europe, China offers the opportunity to magnify effect – Europe's economic and political force is substantial, but when bolstered by Chinese capacity and means, it becomes an even more substantial force," the expert noted.

    Rafaello Pantucci suggested that Europe can assist China in its efforts to establish closer links with Central Asian countries and help Beijing to address the needs of the region.

    According to the British expert, the EU and OSCE have a unique experience in dealing with Central Asia's economic and political problems and can provide Beijing with "a set of lessons and experiences that China is simply unable to replicate, but is keen to learn from."

    While Europe is considering the Central Asian region a sphere of its vital interest, there is another valuable source of experience in dealing with the region’s issues.

    Russia, which is regarded by China as a longstanding strategic ally, has a long history of successful cooperation with Central Asian nations.

    However, the Chinese Silk Road initiative can become a way out for the EU, which is suffering from a protracted economic slowdown, and may strengthen Eurasian continental powers both politically and economically. 

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    Tags:
    Silk Road, economic cooperation, OSCE, Xi Jinping, Eurasia, China, Europe, Russia, Xinjiang, Central Asia, Beijing
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