Chinese Grand Strategy in the Eurasian Heartland. Belt and Road Initiative in Russia, Belarus, Central Asia and the Caucasus
At the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, held in April 2019, it was declared that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) included 125 countries and involved over 1000 projects, worth a total of US$ 3-4 trillion. The Belt and Road Initiative was born big when President Xi announced it in 2013 in Astana, now Nur-Sultan. Since then it has only gained momentum.
The Eurasian Heartland is vital for the success of the Belt and Road, and the impact of the Belt and Road on the Eurasian Heartland is immense. In this report, we discuss how to read the Chinese Grand Strategy, and why the Eurasian Heartland is so special for China. We analyze over 160 specific Belt and Road projects in 10 countries for more than US$ 80 billion overall to come up with a clear concept of how China chooses its target countries and sectors, what its strategic toolkit is made of, and how it softly orchestrates hundreds of involved organizations in a single action. We also make some observations on how different countries are positioned on the Belt and Road mental map: whether they are strategic, prospective, problematic, or sleeping. Finally, we offer a preliminary impact assessment of the Belt and Road on the Eurasian Heartland in economic, social, and environmental perspectives, which is not always obvious. We provide recommendations on what needs to be done on both sides for the brighter future of the Belt and Road Initiative.
We hope this report will help businesses and policymakers involved in Belt and Road in the Eurasian Heartland to get a stereoscopic view of the retrospective and the current developments, recognize the consistency patterns, and make better-informed decisions for the future.
This work would have never been possible without our enriching and intellectually stimulating research collaboration with the HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies and Prof. Albert Park personally who has given us a lot of insights and support throughout the project.
This research has been generously funded by EY - our longstanding strategic partner for over 10 years.