The meeting of the China-Eurasian Forum in Urumqi, Xinjiang, on Sunday makes an interesting move in regional cooperation on the part of Beijing. The presence of Premier Wen Jiabao at the meeting signified the high importance that Beijing attaches to this initiative. In sum, China is directly wooing its Eurasian allies with audacious offers of building a New Silk Road.
The initiative obviously aims at integrating Xinjiang with the western market. There was high-scale participation in the event by the Central Asian countries. Surprisingly, Russia wasn’t represented at the political level at the event.
Premier Wen made a major policy speech at the meeting of the Forum. An entire Chinese vision of Eurasian strategy leaps out of Wen’s speech. Yet, it contained merely one inter alia reference to Russia. Wen’s focus was on connecting China with Europe via the Central Asian region and Turkey. Russia becomes peripheral to the process.
Arguably, in political content, Wen’s speech presents an alternate blueprint to Washington’s New Silk Road Initiative. Equally, come to think of it, the China-Eurasian Forum is a logical corollary of the SCO. Having consolidated its cooperative links with the Central Asian region, China is leaping across the Caspian and in the process becoming a stakeholder in Eurasian stability.
Clearly, the Chinese initiative outstrips Russia’s “Eurasian Union” project , which is yet to be kickstarted. Indeed, China is outstripping both the US and Russia. While the New Silk Road Initiative is predicated on the stabilization of Afghanistan, Russia’s Eurasian Union project has got hopelessly entangled with Moscow’s changing equations with the Central Asian countries.
For the world at large, the clash of the three grand Eurasian strategies – mooted by Washington, Moscow and Beijing — now becomes yet another fascinating spectacle of the Great Game.
– September 3, 2012