How the West does not see the geopolitical ambitions of China (Foreign Policy, USA)

How the West does not see the geopolitical ambitions of China ("Foreign Policy", USA)When the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov during his visit to nedavneshnego China was awarded the title of Doctor of Beijing Institute of noble, he was smiling broadly. But his satisfaction was called, probably not so much an academic title as a lucrative deal to export fuel, which he signed on the same day. 65 billion cubic meters of natural gas, about half the volume of gas consumed by China in 2010, will now be available with an insatiable mass Turkmen fields, it would seem, to Chinese consumers.

This agreement, concluded at the end of the year, has allowed some observers to conclude that Turkmenistan is provided by natural gas, beat of strongest player in the region — Russia. For years, Moscow reached agreement with Beijing on the export of gas, but that will take it at the moment when China is such volumes from Turkmenistan? But this is an incorrect statement of the problem. This deal for natural gas is a geopolitical chess move by Beijing more generally than a show of force on the part of Turkmenistan. China's interests in the region and are in natural resources, and in nezapyatannoy power. While the West focuses on confining the action China in the Asia-Pacific region, Beijing benefits from a large footprint on the western borders of their own — in Central Asia.

For years, Ashgabat had significant. He is one of 10 huge gas resources of the world, but was never able to successfully use this wealth to take a strong position in the middle of neftepostavschikov — Turkmen gas sold on the border of Russian "Gazprom", which exported it to European consumers at inflated prices. It made a kind of outcast Turkmenistan in the energy community.

But now Ashgabat is not only the "courting" Beijing, and "flirting" with the European Commission, which wants to build a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Europe and intensely advocated the Turkmen-Afghan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. This expanded range of options for exporting strengthened the position of dominance in the confrontation Berdimuhamedov Russian Gazprom.

But those who turn their attention only on Turkmenistan are missing the big picture. It would be more accurate to say that the choice of Beijing Turkmen, Kazakh and Uzbek gas instead urged the Russian Gazprom to revise its regional strategy. While price negotiations with Moscow last for the past 5 years, the Chinese National Petroleum Company (CNPC) has updated a quick existing transport infrastructure for the creation of the China-Central Asia gas pipeline. Appeared in all of this shift in regional geopolitics of energy with respect to the advancement of China shows.

It also shows that Beijing's intentions in fact specifically geopolitical. The performance indicator for Beijing — is stability, ie client states, whose government predictably and helpfully. Chinese analysis indicates that they are now — adults in Central Asia, and our homeland and Western players carry with them the only constant.

But China wish to disguise their geopolitical ambitions in the area of Central Asia. The bureaucrats of the Chinese Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the only purpose of China — to gain access to natural resources. Having visited China not long ago, I spoke with the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who insisted that the attempt to understand China's policy in Central Asia from a geopolitical point of view, "is based on an incorrect angle of view, inherent in the West" and that the angle of view of "just sounds as a pretext to enter ordinary commercial transactions in the paradigm of the "China threat". "

The representative of CNPC outlined this way: "Some of the partners in the region are willing to use our presence as an instrument of foreign policy." "Chinese companies are not involved in politics," he added quickly. I have heard such definitions as "non-interference" and "harmonious relationship" so many times I could not even count. But speaking about the deal with Turkmenistan, one of the top officials at the Chinese Ministry of Energy, said: "Energy — the basis for a broader relationship with Turkmenistan, which we litsezreem as of the 1st of the major and long-running partners in the region." "Kazakhstan has a lot more oil and natural gas, but Turkmenistan appears to us in the same principal partner and maybe working with him will have a fundamental impact on China. When I asked if the deal with Turkmenistan crucial for China in terms of expansion options in the light of energy imports nedavneshnih civilian unrest in Kazakhstan, he answered simply: "Yes."

The inhabitants of Central Asia understand the calculation of China. The discussion in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan senior bureaucrat of the Ministry of Energy told me that China is committed to political pressure to compete with Russian and Western players, but that Turkmenistan does not allow it. As I wrote together with my co-worker Raffaello Pantuchchi, Our homeland is also beginning to counter what it sees as an "invasion" of China in the Russian zone usually geopolitical influence, directly or through its promotion of the "Eurasian Union" of former Russian republics.

It is interesting to note that China's geopolitical goals have much in common with the Russian — is the maintenance by more authoritarian stability and predictability in Central Asia. "Our interests and the interests of our government — to build permanent government in the region," the analyst told me Sinopec. The result — a soft geopolitical rivalry between China and Russia. And it applies — this month is expected to visit the Chinese military delegation to Azerbaijan.

China can be forgiven sample mask its geopolitical Coming as it may be, in the hope of avoiding disturbance signals and warning bells. While headed for China in this field, good success.

Alexandros Petersen — Advisor to the European Energy Security Initiative at the center for academics «Woodrow Wilson International» in Washington, DC, and creator of The World Island: Eurasian Geopolitics and the Fate of the West.Eta nedavneshnego article was the result of his visit to China and Central Asia.

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