Will China dominate Eurasia, supplanting Russia? – China’s latest political and current affairs news


A summary of the top news in Chinese politics and current affairs for November 3, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

Combination of satellite photos shows Chinese-controlled North Island, part of the Paracel Islands group in the South China Sea, on February 15, 2017 (top) and on March 6, 2017. Planet Labs/Handout via REUTERS

It is really still too early to tell where China’s Belt and Road Initiative may lead, and part of the problem is that its scope keeps expanding — just yesterday, China Daily reported that the initiative may include a “North Polar sea route.” But now more than ever, it is clear that China is prepared to put the full weight of the state behind key projects in the initiative, and it is becoming increasingly clear that China is going to compete with Russian influence across Central Asia and Europe.

  • Writing in the New York Times, Robert D. Kaplan, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, says (paywall) that China’s Belt and Road Initiative is part of a Chinese goal “to dominate Eurasia, which means relegating Russia to a second-tier power.” Kaplan details a number of energy-related deals throughout Central Asia that have been sealed over the last decade as evidence of this trend.
  • On a Sinica Podcast earlier this year, Prague-based China scholar Martin Hála explained how China has been pushing into Central and Eastern Europe via a “16+1” initiative, and how Russia has largely turned a blind eye to increasing Chinese influence near its borders.
  • The Financial Times has published two articles on Chinese influence in Eastern Europe. One is by Vladimir Krulj, a special economic adviser to the Serbian government, who notes (paywall) the increasing number of Chinese-funded projects in the country and urges the EU to “present credible alternatives” to fix its “neglect of Serbia.” The other is by Dalibor Rohac, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, who notes small but increasing Chinese investment and influence in the Czech Republic, and warns (paywall) of “the wedge that the Chinese government is driving between the key stakeholders in the Western-led liberal international order.”
  • Apart from Belt and Road-related projects, China has been making significant inroads in other European countries that are disillusioned with the EU, especially Greece, which Xi Jinping has called China’s “most reliable friend in the EU” and which in June this year vetoed an EU statement on human rights in China.