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Prospects of the Eurasian Union: a View from China

Abstract

In the first half of the second decade of the XXI century, international relations have been characterized by an increased regional association both in the peripheral regions of Eurasia (Trans-Pacific Partnership, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and in Central Eurasia (Eurasian integration of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan). China is a sea-continental country, which has always paid close attention to the eastern (sea or Asian-Pacific) direction, and the western (continental or Eurasian) direction in its foreign policy. The purpose of this article is to identify the new challenges and characteristics of Chinese foreign policy in the western, continental, Eurasian direction and compare it with the Eurasian integration of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

After the return of Vladimir Putin to the post of President of the Russian Federation, the promotion of the Eurasian integration and the creation of the Eurasian Union are regarded as one of the main strategic directions of the foreign policy agenda, and the foundation for fulfilling the "Eurasian Superpower Dream" of Russia. Russia, resting upon the Eurasian Union, aims at strengthening its position in Central Eurasia. According to the plan, the Eurasian Economic Union (EEC) was set up in 2015. Located to the eastern boundary of the Central Eurasia, China has always maintained close political, economic and cultural ties with Central Asia and acted as the "Asian-European" power.

In the view of Chinese researchers, current Eurasian integration processes are extremely significant for the Western region of China. Therefore, the success in managing China's relations with the new actors such as the EEC in Central Eurasia will certainly be bounded and interlinked with the external environment in order to deepen reforms and openness of China in the forthcoming years. In this context such questions as ‘how does the Chinese scientific society perceive the phenomenon of the Eurasian Union?', ‘how do the Eurasian Union  and  the Eurasian  integration  affect  the Sino-Russian  relations  and  the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)?’, ‘how will China refer to the Eurasian Union?’ are undoubtedly rel- evant for the Chinese scientific community.

So the authors believe that, if China wants to develop fructiferous relationships with the EEC, it should insist on the following fundamental principles of its foreign policy: 1) ‘China is the country close to Central Asia’ (Jing Zhong Ya Guo Jia) as a new identity of the state’s foreign policy at the west direction;

2) Sino-Russian relations are fundamental for the development of China's relations with the Eurasian Union; 3) The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Union serve as two pillars maintain- ing the development and security of China in the region, which is close to China’s western part.

Keywords:

Russia; Eurasian Union; Eurasian integration; Post-Soviet states; foreign policy of China; the country close to Central Asia; Russian-Chinese (Sino-Russian) relationships.

 


Authors: Li Xing Wang Chenxing

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