Monday, March 11, 2013

Go West, Young Han

China is eying the former Soviet republics in central Asia for economic advantage. Russia worries that the flag follows trade, with the PLA right in the middle of that hand off. A Chinese pivot to the interior of Asia certainly helps our pivot to the littorals of Asia.

China wants better rail links to central Asia:

China is offering to build new railroads into Central Asia. This is part of a $300 billion plan to upgrade and expand Chinese railways over the next two decades years. Chinese businesses are investing more billions to create new businesses in Central Asia and the cheapest way to get goods in or out of this landlocked area is via rail.

Which raises interesting possibilities:

Something Russia does not like to discuss openly is the fact that Chinese railroads extending into Central Asia would make it easier for China to carry out major military operations in the area. With rail lines extending deep into Central Asia China could more easily threaten a long feared invasion of Russia to take back the eastern territories that many Chinese believe are theirs.

Strategypage says China is unlikely to do that as long as Russia has lots of nukes, but I'm not so sure. Does Russia really carry out a nuclear murder-suicide pact over control of limited peripheral areas outside of the core of European Russia?

Still, getting China pointed to the interior of Asia is surely in our interest. It might also end that annoying tendency of the Russians to loudly complain about the non-threat that NATO poses to Russia while pretending to ignore rising Chinese power that could start round three of territory shedding, following the 1989 loss of Eastern Europe and the 1991 loss of many non-Russian republics of the USSR.