CI Magazine / New issue

Editor’s Note

By Editor CI

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:45 PM

The current issue of the Caucasus International (CI) journal entitled “Connectivity in Eurasia: Implications for South Caucasus Region” is dedicated to the transportation and transit routes in Eurasia, the new transport initiatives of the regional and small countries, and the repercussions of all these for the economic stability and security of the South Caucasus states. While analyzing the transportation routes, the authors also reflected their views on the utilization of these projects as soft power instruments over the bilateral relations of these countries with other international/regional actors. Read more...

Colloquy with Eugene Seah: "Azerbaijan: A Linchpin for Eurasian Transportation and Transit Routes"

By Editor CI

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:43 PM

Azerbaijan is located in the crossroads of international trade and is a potential hub for the international transportation routes, as well as region it is located. Its location, abundance of natural resources and dynamic new generation will help to realize hub vision. Strategic location and new infrastructure will allow Port of Baku to become a transit and logistics hub in Eurasia within One Belt, One Road project. Read more...

"The Belt and Road Initiative and Its Implications for Communicating China–Europe Relations" by Deqiang Ji and Xuezhi Du

By Editor CI

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:41 PM

In the past five years, the Belt and Road Initiative has become a buzzword in the Chinese government’s policymaking in a wide range of arenas, including trans-border trade relationships, international diplomacy, national branding, and external communication, which, together, arguably define a China-initiated alternative path towards a new world order. As a communicative process, the BRI has been vigorously promoted by both the government and the state-owned media system to increase China’s global reach. Given the geopolitical dynamics that accompany the Belt and Road, it is necessary to theoretically rethink the complex communication relationship between China and different regions. China–EU relations have been chosen for the discussion in this article because of the connections via both the old and new Silk Roads. Firstly, we briefly lay out a historical trajectory of the BRI and the new connotations that are officially encapsulated in this terminology. Secondly, we examine the geopolitical dynamics in which the BRI was proposed by the Chinese government as an active response towards the US’ Asia-Pacific Rebalancing Strategy; meanwhile, the BRI also provides for mutual needs between China and Europe in terms of economic cooperation and mediated communication. Thirdly, Chinese and European media have a great potential to collaborate at multiple levels in order to both broaden organizational exchange and deepen mutual understanding. Read more...

"China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Rise of Chinese Eurasianism as a Eurasian Integration Strategy against Atlanticism?" by Ozgur Tufekci

By Editor CI

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:39 PM

The geopolitical spaces of the ideology of Eurasianism, such as Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and Europe, form the main framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as destinations for Chinese goods, services, and capital. For this reason, the BRI is, on the one hand, both a cause and effect of the political-economic interests of China; while, on the other hand, it provides a dynamic for the regional integration policies of the Chinese government. When Xi Jinping became China’s new leader in 2012, he signalled that he would pursue a “pro-active” foreign policy course. Moreover, his foreign policy understanding has represented, to some extent, the end of the era of Deng Xiaoping’s reactive “bide and hide” foreign policy strategy. Nevertheless, it remains necessary to deal with the issue of whether this pro-activeness will transform into a single robust foreign policy perspective that benefits from the ideologies of Eurasianism or Atlanticism. What is known about ideology-driven Atlanticism is that it has been prioritizing the securitization of Eurasia. However, it seems that China’s development-oriented approach is more promising for those countries that are in need of reconstruction and development. If China could manage to remodel Atlanticism through an ideology of Eurasianism, the landmass would become a new and competitive ground where the new power can assert its own influence and create streamlined connectivity. Read more...

"Belt and Road Initiative: The Eurasian Cold War?" by Ali Ihsan Kahraman

By Editor CI

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:37 PM

This paper examines the One Belt One Road Initiative (BRI), led by China, and investigates the strategies of participant and non-participant countries. The main question is how this large-scale project may affect Eurasian politics. To carry out such a discussion, the paper comparatively surveys the strategies and political discourses related to BRI of both participant (China, India, and Russia) and nonparticipant countries (the US and Great Britain) who take an active part in politics and economics throughout Eurasia. In conclusion, this paper suggests that BRI will lead to some indication of the emergence of a Cold War-like conflict in Eurasia, although the main promise of this initiative is to accelerate cooperation in this interregional area. Read more...

"China’s Hard Power versus Soft Power in Central Asia: An Analysis of the ‘One Belt-One Road Initiative’ as a Soft Power Instrument" by Gülşen Aydin and Müge Yüce

By Editor CI

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:36 PM

The One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative is a massive project involving more than 60 countries with an approximate cost of $6 trillion. It is based on the legacy of the Silk Road, which historically connected China to many countries in Asia, Africa, and Europe. This article aims to examine the OBOR initiative from the perspective of soft power debates in International Relations (IR). This is done in five steps. First, the introduction introduces the subject and provides a brief discussion on its importance. The second section deals with the concept of soft power and the role of soft power in Chinese foreign policy. Then, the study introduces the One Belt One Road Project and its importance for Eurasian connectivity. The fourth section discusses how OBOR acts as an instrument of soft power. The conclusion argues that the OBOR initiative complies with the definition Joseph S. Nye provided for soft power as it is totally devoid of coercion and helps to improve the Chinese image in many senses. Read more...

"Use of Soft Power in Tandem with Economic Expansion: Examining the Case of Chinese Soft Power in South Caucasus" by Vasif Huseynov

By Editor CI

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:34 PM

This article examines the use of soft power in China’s foreign policy concerning the South Caucasian countries (Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia) that are involved, though to varying degrees, in Beijing’s giant economic project called Belt and Road. It looks into China’s soft power strategy in general and its role in the South Caucasus in particular, occasionally compares this strategy with those of the Western powers and Russia in the region, and defines the peculiarities of Chinese soft power in the countries of the region. Extensively analysing news media articles, official statements by local and Chinese leaders, academic materials, and other sources, the article suggests answers to the research question: How does China use soft power as an instrument in its foreign policy regarding the three South Caucasian countries? Read more...

"The Belt and Road Initiative and the Future of Sino-Russian Relations in Central Asia" by Michael Clarke and Matthew Sussex

By Editor CI

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:26 PM

Sino-Russian relations in general, and in Central Asia in particular, have been relatively stable since the end of the Cold War due to the convergence of a number of key structural, regional, and domestic factors. These have remained relatively consistent over time, and demonstrate the interplay between “thick” (normative) and “thin” (interests) variables consistent with the concept of an alignment rather than an alliance. However, we argue that Beijing’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) is likely to bring to the fore the central dilemmas typical of the “alliance game” of international politics – hedging, accommodation, and entrapment – as China’s trans-Eurasian connectivity agenda fundamentally challenges Russian preferences across the strategic, economic, and normative domain of its interests. The article then explores these dilemmas via the discussion of a number of possible future scenarios for Sino-Russian relations and their implications for regional order in Central Asia. Read more...

"A Hub of Hubs Initiative and its successful implementation: The case of Azerbaijan" by Mahir Humbatov

By Editor CI

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:23 PM

After centuries of neglect, the transport corridors connecting Asia and Europe are on the brink of a rebirth. There are different initiatives to establish overland routes via trucks; to build railways; construct pipelines; improve air connections; develop maritime connections through seaways, such as TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia), CAREC (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation), INSTC (International North South Transportation Corridor), and the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative); and so on. Currently, every single country in the world is developing its transportation and logistics potential with the desire to become part of these regional or global initiatives. This article will analyze where Azerbaijan stands on these corridors and what is the current status of soft and hard infrastructure development in this country as regards global transportation corridors. Regional projects initiated by Azerbaijan are already delivering benefits to friendly neighboring countries and transportation projects will also attract revenues to collaborating countries. The Baku–Tbilisi–Kars railway project, newly developed Baku International Sea Trade port, renovated and reconstructed GYD airport, improvement of the Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company, new legislation and presidential orders, and other relevant hard and soft infrastructural developments will be assessed in this context. Moreover, Azerbaijan's collaboration in the transportation sector with its neighboring countries and key allies will be one of the main themes of the article. Read more...

"Iran and the Eurasian Transport Initiatives: Short-term Challenges, Long-term Opportunities" by Hamidreza Azizi

By Editor CI

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:17 PM

Being at the junction of several major geopolitical regions, i.e., the Middle East, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and South Asia, along with access to the high seas of the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea, has long created a special geopolitical status for Iran. Accordingly, throughout the course of history Iran has always been at the center of east–west and north–south trade routes. Considering this critical characteristic, reviving Iran's position in the sphere of international transit and transport is now being taken into account by the Iranian leaders as a serious option for guaranteeing the country’s economic growth and development. This article tries to study the place of Iran in two important Eurasian transport initiatives, namely the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC). The article shows that, despite the priority of economic objectives, Iran's approach to this issue encompasses a wide range of economic, diplomatic, and geopolitical goals. The success of these two initiatives with the participation of Iran could also bear significant positive implications for the countries of the South Caucasus. Read more...
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