• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Article

The “New Great Game” and the struggle for supremacy in Central Asia: From a Sino-Russian axis of convenience to a Chinese primacy?

Pizzolo P., Carteny A.

Situated at the crossroads of the Silk Road, Central Asia is included in the region described by Halford Mackinder as the Heartland of the Eurasian continent and has been an arena of international competition for centuries. Today, a “New Great Game” appears to be taking place between Russia, China, and, to a lesser extent, the United States, and the European Union for regional hegemony. In the last two decades, Russia and China formed an “axis of convenience,” both to counter Western influence and to thwart regional challenges; however, recent Sino-Russian relations have experienced an increasing rivalry. Specifically, regarding geo-economic and energetic assets, China appears to be gradually replacing Russia as chief power in some Central Asian countries. To evaluate the shift towards China’s primacy, the Power Transition Theory represents a helpful methodological tool. The impact of the “Belt and Road Initiative” on the five central Asian former Soviet republics – specifically its liaisons with Kazakhstan’s “Bright Path” and with the Uzbek New Strategy of Development –, as well as the prevalent Chinese role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, provide empirical evidence to support the Power Transition theoretical frame regarding dissatisfied challengers. The forecast of the region contemplates two scenarios, namley China's predominance or a Chinese-Russian modus vivendi based on a "division of labour".