Reflective journal 2 20058232

The one belt one road initiative and international relations in the context of geopolitics.

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H Mackinder had proposed in Democratic Ideal and Reality (1919) ******that Europe, Asia and Africa are the world-island. The area of eastern Europe is in the heartland. It is alleged in his words that ‘who rules East Europe commands the Heartland, Who rules the Heartland command the World-Island. who rules the world-island commands the world.’ The theory of Mackinder’s World-Island and Heartland is viewed as the fundamental base of geopolitics. After that, the American political scientist Nicholas John Spykman rebutted with rimland theory******* that due to broke out the area of world wars and population calculations. The control of the border area is more vital than the heartland. It is believed that the proposal of all the different geopolitics theories depends on the actual periods and situations that the author faced, and as well as to which country they served. Therefore, Mackinder’ theory of the world-island should be placed with the correct context of time especially since the existence of the United States in modern days.

Geopolitics focuses on the geographical characteristics of countries which shapes their international policies and actions. With the development of technology and globalisation, it changes our view on the space of distances. However, the geographical issue still stands a significant role in international politics as people still have memories or identity on the land we live nowadays.

Recently, China has launched The Belt and Road Initiative****** to invest infrastructure in East Europe which aims to establish contact and interactions with other counties just as the Maritime Silk Road back in time. The project first started with countries from the middle east, northeast Asia and West Asia. With the joining on several European countries like the United Kingdom, Germany and France. The project’s domain grows larger than before.

In history, the United States has always formed a strong alliance with Japan, South Korea since the end of World War 2 and during the Cold War to restrict the power of the communist camp. Facing the rise of China, the United States would view it as a challenge of its supremacy. As a result, the planning of ‘The pivot of Asia ‘ starts to place pressure on China. The United States formed tighter relations with its Asia alliances. With the signing of The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)*****, it further approves the leading influence and status of the United stated in Asia. The Belt and Road Initiative of China can be seen as a hit back to the United States actions in Asia. By cooperating with Eastern Europe and Asia alliance, the balance of power within China and the United States would be evener.

The counties of East Asia have always been the heartland of the world, and they have always maintained a good relationship with Russia. Since the rise up of China with its Belt and Road Initiative, the influence of China in east Europe and East Asia countries grows larger and larger. Others including Russia are concerning how to reinsure their leadership within eastern Europe and Asia. After the launching of The Belt and Road Initiative by China. Russia formed the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with Kazakhstan, Belarus and other few of the northern Eurasian counties. Comments argue that with the growing influence of China and the Belt and Road Initiative, the EAEU would lose its relevance and become a powerless organisation. The situation of Russia turns to be an embarrassing one. One one hand, it truly wishes the prosperity of the project with China as its alliance. On the other hand, it tries to preserve its leadership and interest as well. However, it is believed that Russia would not view China as a threat in the long-term as in international relations, Anarchy is hard to break. The relationship between big countries is to corporate but also to restrict each other. Although in the short term, it is understandable for Russia to have moments of insecurity about China replacing its leadership within the ally. However, in the case of the establishment of EAEU and the Belt and Road Initiative, no direct conflict can be seen. Besides, regarding Russia situations, the economy of Russia turns to be very weak since the end of Cold War. Moreover, the western countries did not complete the economic aids to Russia as promised after the Cold War. With the east expansions of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (OTAN)*****, these factors become the real threats to Russia. With the rise of a long-term ally – China that would benefit Russia’s economy, the insecurity can be less than nothing compared to the real pressure from the western powers. On the side of China, it is undoubtedly that the trade war with the United States and the geographical threat of the TPP grows larger than before. The surrounding pressure from the east and west have naturally made Russia and China an ally in the strategic situation.

Second, the great drop in oil prices in Russia had hindered its economy. It became more difficult for Russia to get access to external resources especially after the Crimea crisis in 2014. Therefore, China became Russia’s best partner to complement its need. Finally, it is known that although China’s military power grows significant though out the past decades, there is still a large gap compared with the United States and Russia. The United States and Russia are the two military world leader when it comes to military power. According to all different sources of military statistics, such as the 2018 Military Strength Ranking, it all reaches a consensus that the United States and Russia are the top two military powers, leaving the third-place- China in a large disparity. The complimentary corporation of China and Russia would have a perfect division of labour, given that China would be the leader regarding economy, and Russia would be the leader regarding military. When the two corporates, it creates a strong bargaining power to the United States to for restrict and balance the power from the opposite camp.

However, it is interesting to see that some small countries have joined the alliance in both TPP as well as the Belt and Road initiative such as Malaysia, Singapore etc. Commons ally of the United States or western countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and France has joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), in supporting the Belt and Road initiative. This indicates that all the other countries following the two main camps of superpower become pragmatic. They would switch positions depending on different times or issue to get the best interest for their country just as what proposed in realism. Countries like Iran joining the Belt and Road initiative is viewed as a whole new opportunity to develop its capacity, as the situation of being isolated for thirty years by the western countries has come to an end. The establishment of the Belt and Road initiative as seen as a new chance for development. Given that the United States policies towards the middle east get both praise and blame as the United Statues has been supporting middle east countries like Israel or other oil-producing counties. However, in the meanwhile, the United States plays the war on terror in the middle counties like Iraq. The justification of its actions has always been questioned and criticised. This creates turning points and opportunity for Russia to gain a foothold just like getting support in the incident of the Syrian civil war. To all other countries apart from the two leading powers, the Belt and Road Initiative provides new options of a pathway for all countries, telling a fact that following the United States supremacy might not be the only measure.

Throughout the past years, the United States gained middle east land of resources by war.
Now, China expands its power by using money and investment. The latter seems to be wiser as it maintains its relationships with the others like partners instead of enemies. Moreover, the expenses on a war of the united states have greatly hindered its economy. It is believed that China’s stance on the international relationship would be welcomed. To Russia, it is a major opportunity to fix its economy and to maintain its partnership with China.

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