Monday, December 17, 2007

Russia, China, and a New "Great Game"

The term “Great Game” usually refers to the 19th century contest for influence in Central Asia between Russia and the British Empire. A recent article, “New ‘Great Game’ for Central Asia Riches,” provides a good overview of the current contest for influence in Central Asia by outside powers.

As the article makes clear, after September 11, 2001, the U.S. became heavily invested in the region, though has now been relegated to a more marginal player. This is partly due to waning interest on the part of the U.S. government, and partly because of the heavy initiative and investment in the region shown by China and Russia, now the two main outside influences in the region.

China in particular has substantially increased its investment in the region, with this also helping fuel the economic development of western China, with the China-Kazakhstan border coming to resemble the U.S.-Mexico border as one of the few international borders where one much more developed country shares a long border with another much poorer and less developed country, and with investment from the richer country fueling asymmetrical but cross-border development.

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