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Daniel S. Markey

China's Western Horizon: Beijing and the New Geopolitics of Eurasia

Interview with Daniel S. Markey

May 20, 2020

Sign Up. Full interview.

About Daniel S. Markey

Daniel S. Markey is a senior research professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and the academic director of the SAIS Global Policy Program. From 2007-2015, he was senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. While there, he wrote a book on the future of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, No Exit from Pakistan. From 2003 to 2007, Dr. Markey held the South Asia portfolio on the Secretary's Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State.

Interview Summary

China’s rapid economic development over the past three decades has enabled Beijing to spread its wings abroad, allowing the trading giant to secure its routes to world markets.

Most of China’s trade with the rest of the world is through maritime links that connect Chinese ports on the eastern seaboard and pass through the narrow and vulnerable strait of Malacca. With few friends in the region, China needs to protect its crude oil and commodities imports as well as trillions of dollars of goods exports.

With its newfound wealth and rising confidence, China has a strong desire to build alternative routes to markets in Europe, increasingly looking at its western border and overland routes passing through Eurasia.

In China’s Western Horizon, Professor Daniel S. Markey provides a comprehensive review of China’s western neighbors and the strategic challenges facing Beijing. He sheds much-needed light on a region of the world that is often forgotten and is rarely a priority of today’s leading powers.

Pakistan, once the focal point of the Chinese western border strategy, has been thrown in turmoil as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is facing significant hurdles on the ground. Realities are no different in Kazakhstan and in other smaller neighboring nations. However, China has increasingly played a key role in supporting the ambitions of rival regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia in an attempt to become a new strategic alternative in the region.

Key Topics

  • Why is China extremely sensitive to its hold over western territories?
  • How has Eurasia come to shape China’s trade routes and investment opportunities?
  • Why do local politics and needs dictate Beijing’s negotiation with border nations?
  • What has been the response of Central Asian states to Chinese overtures?
  • Why could China's investment in Gwadar port in Pakistan end up empowering the Balochistan separatist movement?
  • Will Beijing’s investments in Eurasian countries reinforce the existing political order, feed in the existing corrupt ways, support authoritarian states or lead to liberalizing or political reforms?
  • Is China’s Belt and Road Initiative likely to spur infrastructure development in lesser developed nations or are these countries likely be trapped in debt spirals?
  • How is Russia coping with the rise of China in Eurasia?
  • How are China’s growing sales of consumer products and arms affecting the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia?
  • Will China’s Belt and Road Initiative end up creating jobs for Chinese citizens, business for Chinese companies and worthless infrastructure for lesser developed nations?
  • Will Chinese infrastructure loans, just like American, European and Russian involvement in the past, lead to more conflict and instability in the region?

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