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    New Silk Road: Beijing's Asymmetric Response to Trump's Crackdown on China

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    The potential Sino-American economic confrontation under Donald Trump will prompt China to make the New Silk Road a cornerstone of its economic strategy, Russian expert on Chinese affairs Nikolay Vavilov noted, adding that Russia is likely to play a bigger role in the Beijing-led project.

    US President-elect Donald Trump's approach to US-China relations will prompt Beijing to concentrate on its New Silk Road strategy, Nikolay Vavilov, an expert of the Committee of External Relations of Saint Petersburg, believes.

    "Under the rule of isolationist forces in the US administration, brought to power by new [President-elect] Donald Trump, Sino-American ties will weaken and China will turn to Eurasia; it will make the New Silk Road [initiative] the core strategy for China's social and economic stability and development," Vavilov said at the recent conference "Megaregion Great Eurasia: Models of Cooperation and Confrontation" in Rostov-on-Don, as cited by RIA Novosti.

    According to Vavilov, China's New Silk Road initiative may become a viable alternative to Sino-American cooperation.

    At the same time, the expert envisions that Russia may play a bigger role in the China-led project.

    He called attention to the fact that the prospects of creating alternative transport routes in the Caucasus remain dim. For instance, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict simmering between Armenia and Azerbaijan has thrown into question the efficiency of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, intended to complete a transport corridor linking Azerbaijan to Turkey. The railway was regarded by Beijing as part of Silk Road's land route to Europe.

    These conditions could pave the way for the creation of joint Sino-Russian industrial and logistic platforms in the Russian sector of the Caspian-Black Sea region, which is believed to be the most secure transit area in Eurasia, Vavilov highlighted.

    According to the expert, these developments may boost Sino-Russian strategic cooperation in Eurasia and accelerate economic and political integration processes in the continent.

    At the same time, he believes that Washington will continue to exert further pressure on China along its traditional sea lanes in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

    That would prompt China to place greater emphasis on the development of secure land routes through the Eurasian continent, Vavilov suggested.

    Back in 2015 US-based intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor) hinted at the possibility of such a scenario.

    "Over the next several years, China will devote significant resources to the construction of Eurasian trade routes under its Belt and Road Initiative. As transit routes come online, the proportion of Chinese maritime trade passing through South China Sea chokepoints will shrink," Stratfor predicted.

    The intelligence firm highlighted that China's economy is dependent on foreign trade, with 90 percent of Chinese goods travelling by sea. That makes it relatively easy for an adversary to disrupt China's trade thus imposing a blockade on China, Stratfor's report underscored.

    Therefore Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative aims "to mitigate the risk of maritime interdiction" by constructing land transit routes, it explained.

    For his part, Malaysian academic and geostrategic analyst Mathew Maavak insists that Beijing needs to redirect its land routes through "safe regions," and to avoid crossing embattled zones in Central Asia, the Middle East and the Caucasus.

    Speaking to Sputnik in August 2016, the Malaysian analyst underscored that "the safest trade routes in the near-future would look something like the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor."

    Pavel Rodkin, Associate Professor at the National Research University High School of Economics (NRU-HSE) and member of Rossiya Segodnya's Zinoviev Club, also believes that the potential economic conflict between China and the US will shatter the established balance of power.

    "The transition to a new model of relations [between the US] and China is becoming the leitmotif of Donald Trump's presidency," Rodkin noted in his op-ed for RIA Novosti.

    According to the Russian academic, today China positions itself as a viable alternative to the "Western neo-liberal capitalism."

    However, he assumed that Russia may find itself at crossroads.

    "America really wants to use Russia in its fight against China. I believe that the US will make attempts to pit Russia and China one against another… And that could make Russia an easy prey in the unfolding new great power game," Rodkin suggested.

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    Tags:
    New Silk Road, economic development, railway, Donald Trump, South China Sea, China, Europe, United States, Russia, Indian Ocean, Central Asia, Caucasus, Nagorno-Karabakh, Middle East, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Armenia
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    • avatar
      cast235
      CHINA should wise up. there will be a TUG OF WAR IF TRUMP gets in Russia. Be advise. Yet Russia won't betray China. BUT this could lead to future regime change. Because Russia is always fooled into things and deals.
      China should send delegation to Russia, to begin a JOINT building to deal with all topics , even some joint diplomacy.
      THIS will pair China and Russia in world affairs.

      JOINT EFFORTS. INDIA should join too. So it should be a RIC project.

      INDIA is joining SCO and could use China Russia model to resolve disputes.
    • avatar
      Erik Trete
      The Obama administration has already pulled just about every lever short of war they have against Russia - how are they going to pit Russia against China? As if these two countries don't understand their situations and the necessity to protect each others back?

      China has several levers of their own with which to hold off Trump. US companies have invested 100's of billions of dollars in Factories and equipment in China, not to mention a trained work force. China can make it economically unfeasible, if not down right impossible to extract that investment for companies who try to repatriate their factories back to the US.

      Then there is the little problem of US Debt. The Bank of China owes a huge chunk of it. I am not talking about government debt, I am talking about US corporate debt. If China were to dump this debt, it would create a situation where these US "global" corporations could not borrow money, it would also crash their stock value making these companies nearly instantly insolvent. The process would likely be self perpetuating to the point of driving the US into a deep recession, if not a full blown depression. Any attempt to put controls on the sale of this debt would cause massive panic in the financial system and likely end the dollar's role as a reserve currency which depends of the free movement of dollars and the financial instruments based on dollars.

      China has the US economy defacto between a rock and a hard place while the US has itself depleted all its monetary options recovering from the subprime loan fiasco - Interest rates are ~0%, the Fed has exhausted it economic easing options, Federal debt is pushing 20 Trillion and the federal budget has not stopped hemorrhaging - the current federal budget deficit itself is nearly half a trillion dollars.
    • American Socialist
      President Putin is too smart to let Trump use him as cannon fodder against China.

      Mr. Putin is a reliable, trustworthy, straightforward strategist. China is Russia's next door neighbor. Both Russia & China believe it's best to develop relations with neighbors. Xi and Putin trust each other and have become reliable partners.
    • arpito
      The Americans are boxed in through their own greedy ambitions. They pursue contradictory policies of trying to win on all fronts. But that is impossible. Take for example the anti Russian sanctions, yet killing of the TTIP that drives EU to trade with Russia / the supporting of the Kurds, yet wanting Turkey to continue to be their forward base in the Middle East / trying to get better trade balance with CHina, yet threatening them militarily / wanting to oust Daesh yet fighting Assad / wanting to subjugate Russia yet attacking the Chinese too which will drive them into strategic partnership / wanting better weapon systems yet unwilling to put an end to the F35 fiasco / saying that they want peace in Palestine yet unconditionally supporting Israel - they are stuck in the past, have only a couple of decades before they lose their superpower status and if thy try to maintain it by starting WWIII, they too will be utterly destroyed, so in any case, bye bye evil empire!
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