On April 24, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev arrived in China to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (Report.az, April 24). This was Aliyev’s second official visit to the world’s most populous country, since 2015. In light of growing Chinese involvement in the South Caucasus region more generally, the Azerbaijani leader’s attendance at the summit sought to further boost bilateral cooperation.
The ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI—formerly called One Belt, One Road or OBOR), unveiled by Beijing in 2013, will link China and Europe via new or expanded overland and maritime transit corridors. The aim, the Chinese authorities proclaim, is to bolster trade and economic growth among all countries involved. Since BRI’s inception, China has invested roughly $90 billion in overseas loans for major infrastructure projects, including the construction of roads, railways and ports throughout Eurasia (Global Risk Intelligence, April 26). The South Caucasus region, with its important transit routes linking East and West, holds great geostrategic importance. Therefore, China has sought new opportunities to deepen its engagement with the South Caucasus countries, in turn providing additional impetus for the development of strategic regional transit projects like the Baku–Tbilisi–Kars railway, the Trans-Caspian International Transit Route, the South–West Transit Corridor, and others (see EDM, April 12, 2017; October 16, 2017; November 6, 2018; April 3, 2019). Oxumağa davam et Azerbaijan Eyes More Cooperation With China Within Belt and Road Initiative→
On February 6, the Azerbaijan-China Business forum held in Beijing gathered together a number of state officials including Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev, the Chairman of the Export and Investment Promotion Fund of Azerbaijan (AZPROMO), as well as officials from the Ministry of Commerce of China and the Chinese Council of Propaganda of International Trade. The business forum was reportedly devoted to the Trans-Caspian Transit Corridor as part of China-led ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.
The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, a corridor of 6,500 km links Asia with Europe and passes through countries including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. A flagship project of the corridor, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) Railway, was inaugurated in October in 2017. The railway connects Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, establishing a freight and passenger link between Europe and China. During the inauguration ceremony President Ilham Aliyev stated that “Baku-Tbilisi-Kars will connect not only countries, but continents as well.” Thus, the BTK project is undoubtedly has enormous importance to the competitiveness of the Trans-Caspian corridor.
This past January, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attended a session on “The Silk Road Effect” at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, alongside Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili (President.az, January 19). Presumably, the intention of both leaders was to promote the importance of the new China-led “Silk Road Economic Belt” project and its role in the future development of the economy and infrastructure in the South Caucasus. As a source of and as a transit corridor for strategic global resources such as oil and natural gas, as well as the intersection of important transportation routes between the East and West as well as the North and South, the South Caucasus holds great geostrategic importance. While a relatively low priority for China during the early 2000s, more recently the South Caucasus has become an area of great interest as an extension of the highly ambitious Chinese Silk Road project, which aims to connect Europe and East Asia via new roads and railways across the Eurasian landmass. Oxumağa davam et Baku-Beijing Relations and China’s Growing Interest in the South Caucasus→
China’s gradually increasing economic role in Central Asia since the early 2000s is unsurprising considering the region’s geographic proximity to China’s dynamic economy. In this context, Beijing has carefully shaped a military strategy in the region, particularly in neighboring Tajikistan. In September 2016, Beijing offered to finance and build several outposts and other military facilities (in addition to the Gulhan post, which was opened in 2012) to beef up Tajikistan’s defense capabilities along its border with Afghanistan, whereas China’s and Tajikistan’s militaries performed a large counter-terrorism exercise in October 2016. These unexpected actions have raised concerns in Russia over rising Chinese influence in Tajikistan.
Tajikistan is emerging as a test case for China’s growing security role in Central Asia
Following its economic expansion in Central Asia, China unexpectedly took a step to expand its military dominance in the region. In September 2016, Beijing offered to build 11 new border checkpoints and a new military facility along the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border, which raised some concerns in Russia. Although these moves could position China as a security player in Central Asia, Russian experts seemingly are doubtful about the future of any China-Central Asia military alliance. Notably, Russia has an entrenched presence in the region and its largest foreign military base is located outside the Tajik capital.
China’s economic expansion in Tajikistan is a very young phenomenon. In the early 2000s, Chinese influence in Tajikistan was quite weak and limited, due to the lack of transport networks connecting both countries. Only after the opening of a new major highway between two countries did bilateral trade Oxumağa davam et China’s Economic and Military Expansion in Tajikistan→
For the first time since 1949, president of Taiwan and secretary general of Chinese Communist Party held an official meeting in Singapore. According to official statements no further meetings are planned, as expectations from that formal meeting were not so high.
But, why did it happen?
Taiwan’s local opposition is strongly against of any kind of dialogue with China and blamed President Ma – Ying jeou over his Singapore meeting. What is your opinion about it?
Firstly, needed to say that both of sides were preparing for the meeting beforehand, each of detail had been discussed, even the colors of tie, and needless to say that this meeting is a “historic improvement”, first official meeting between leaders of the Strait since 1949, opening up a historic page in cross-Strait relations. At the same time the choice of the meeting place is not accidental, the first public meeting between the Taiwanese and mainland Chinese NGOs was held in 1993 in Singapore, so the leaders felt comfortable here and a place where to minimize the chance of rowdy demonstrations, and where journalists are used to disciplined press conferences.Oxumağa davam et Rashad Seyfaddin: “Needless to say that this meeting is a “historic improvement” for both societies”→
Head of Central Asia and Caspian Region Studies – Analytical Complex of the Library of the First President of Kazakhstan, Dr. Daniyar Kasnazarov answered questions about Silk Road project of China and its impact over the region.