Territorial disputes in Asia remain a serious challenge to peace, stability, and prosperity of the region. In fact, of all interstate disputes, those over territory tend to be nearly twice as likely as other issues to lead to armed conflict. A mix of political and economic interests, normative reasons, and competition over scarce natural resources has been suggested as drivers of conflict over disputed territories. In Asia today, geopolitical shifts, natural resources, and environmental degradation are a source of concern.
In dealing with its maritime disputes, China has lately followed an intransigent approach to strengthen its sovereignty claims in the China seas (The East China Sea and South China Sea) Beijing asserts not only its sovereign right but also its actual control of those disputed islands. By regularly dispatching maritime patrol vessels and surveillance aircrafts to the surrounding waters and skies, China has brought the Huangyan islands from the Philippines back under its control and made what is referred to as 'dual control' of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands a new reality.
North Korea is flexing its muscles, again. The UN imposing further sanctions onto North Korea in a (late) response to its December 2012 missile and February 2013 nuclear tests had the regime in Pyongyang go ballistic leading to angry rhetoric and threats to attack the US and its allies with ballistic and nuclear weapons.
The reactions to the project of Eurasian Union, which was announced by Vladimir Putin after declaring his candidacy to the last presidential elections, have been mainly negative. Some observers have charged him of neo-imperialism, others have expressed their open skepticism about the effectiveness of this proposal. Anyway, the project of a new political integration in the post-Soviet space should be seriously considered, mainly because it could offer a strategic - not only ideological - way of exploiting the paramount opportunities offered to Russia by the dramatic rise of the Far East.
The post-Soviet space is fluid and competitive with many actors, besides Russia, chasing their interests. Recently, also China has
If US election opinion polls are anything to go by, Mitt Romney will not get a chance to rock the
boat of US-Chinese relations from November 2012 onwards. Most (moderate and well-informed)
analysts and commentators agree that this is good news given Romney’s announcements on how
he and his aides would be dealing with what they call a protectionist ‘currency manipulator’ trading
In the first fifteen years following the USSR dissolution, the process of hegemonic transition in post-Soviet Central Asia was defined by a deep dichotomy between opening efforts to cooperation with the West and Russia’s constant interference in the economic, strategic and cultural affairs of the region.
In this context, the People’s Republic of China progressive penetration in Central Asia, which originated in the mid-2000s, has radically changed the dynamics of regional cooperation.
The never-ending power vacuum in Afghanistan continues to be the most critical factor to the security in Central Asia. This is due to two factors: the threats thriving on socio-economic and political turmoil of Afghanistan and the strategic agendas of the external actors involved in the crisis.
The resulting confrontation has defined the geopolitical profile of the region, underpinning the consolidation of the Shanghai agreement between the Russian Federation and China and the following U.S. led intervention in the region.
This paper argues that coopera-tion between Russia and China in Central Asia is one of the im-portant aspects of their bilateral relations. The initial motivation for this cooperation was limita-tion of the Western influence in the region, primarily of the USA. Somehow, Russian-Chinese interaction in Central Asia is not limited to opposition to the “third party” and includes such important aspects as maintenance of regional security and equilibrium of interests in different spheres of economic ties.
Europe’s weakness and a stronger China in Eurasia pose new challenges, among them new possibilities for both competition and cooperation.
Nevertheless China and the EU are not only powers and factors of the geopolitical equation in Central Asia understood as macro-region.
Furthermore, Central Asia is in the process of positioning itself at the vanguard in some hot issues of the global agenda.
While nobody says so openly in Beijing, Chinese policymakers and Central Asian scholars are confident that Beijing will replace Russia as the region’s most influential and powerful actor, albeit ‘non-aggressively’. Beijing is already the largest trading partner of many countries in the region and its investments into Central Asian energy infrastructure are too massive not to translate into political dominance and hegemony rather sooner than later.