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China’s Eurasian Dilemmas

Roads and Risks for a Sustainable Global Power

R. J. Ferguson

Providing a timely analysis of China’s engagement with Eurasia, R. James Ferguson focuses on the challenges obstructing China’s path to becoming a sustainable global power. Engagement across Eurasia presents China, its leaders and policymakers with intensified contact with regional and national conflicts, posing environmental, developmental and strategic dilemmas.
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Chapter 3: Great power miscalculations in wider Central Asia

R. J. Ferguson


Central Asia has remained a fragmented transit zone dividing Eurasia, in spite of the economic modernization of Central Asian states and new external partnerships focused on Russia, China, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union. Great power miscalculations in wider Central Asia and Afghanistan have laid the basis for a region wrought with ethnic complexity, unfinished nation-building exercises, rural underdevelopment, and inexactly delineated and poorly controlled borders. Authoritarian states of the region have become increasingly entrenched but are troubled by a range of non-traditional security threats, including continued transnational terrorism and drug flows from Afghanistan. In spite of US and UN interventions, Afghanistan remains engaged in fierce civil conflicts and has limited governance capacities. Central Asian states and Russia have sought to secure their borders and offered limited trade and aid opportunities to Afghanistan, with India and China only gradually edging towards more proactive security roles. No single Eurasian narrative for dealing with insecurity across wider Central Asia and Afghanistan has emerged, leaving a gap in Eurasian integrative processes.

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