China Silk Road Initiative and Hegemony in Central Asia

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. Student of International Relations, Islamic Azad University, Hamedan Branch

2 Associate Professor of International Relations, Islamic Azad University, Hamedan Branch


China is one of the main players in Central Asia, which pursues its economic and security goals and interests in that region. China’s energy demand has grown by 500 percent since 1980, with rapid economic growth; As China is now the largest consumer of energy and the largest importer of oil in the world, therefore, Central Asia is one of the priorities of China’s foreign policy, considering its energy resources and the possibility of meeting the needs of China’s growing industries. Given the growing competition between regional and trans-regional actors for greater benefits in Central Asia, China is making a concerted effort to expand, given its industrial energy needs and Xinjiang security concerns. Influencing Central Asia is on the agenda; therefore, the Silk Road initiative, with its large volume of investment and its vision, is an important step towards achieving China’s strategic goals in the international arena. Given the importance and scope of the Silk Road initiative for China and its political, economic, and security implications for Central Asia, this study seeks to answer the question that: How does the Silk Road Initiative help shape China’s hegemony in Central Asia? The hypothesis is that the Silk Road initiative, as China’s most important strategy in the new big game with the United States and Russia, contributes to China’s hegemony in the Central Asian region through economic domination and the expansion of political and security influence. The present article is explanatory in nature and method. The results of the studies are as follows:
To meet the needs of growing industries, China has adopted a development-oriented foreign policy approach to reach global consumer markets. China needs the energy to continue economic development and attract foreign investment and therefore energy security and ensuring the continuation of energy flows and reducing vulnerability in this area is one of its foreign policy priorities. On the other hand, ensuring the stability and security of Xinjiang is one of the main security concerns of Chinese leaders which can lead to unrest and create danger for other parts of China. Therefore, to advance its macro foreign policy goals and ambitious regional and international intentions, China introduced the Silk Road Initiative in 2013 as the main axis of its foreign and domestic policy. In this regard, Central Asia has been considered as a strategic hub and one of the regions with rich hydrocarbon resources and territorial proximity to pursue national interests in the Silk Road economic belt strategy.
As one of the most important measures to reduce their strategic vulnerability, the Chinese leaders have established closer ties with energy-rich countries, including Central Asian countries, through the Silk Road Initiative. On the other hand, due to the proximity of Xinjiang Autonomous Province to Central Asia and China’s security problems and challenges in this province, Central Asia has played a significant role in China’s security strategy. Therefore, given these considerations, China’s growing presence and influence in the Central Asian geo-economy will gradually translate into geopolitical influence. In Central Asia, China seeks to increase its regional influence by increasing its lasting influence and by launching the Silk Road Initiative, with an emphasis on economic exchanges as the fulcrum of the project, with a view to peaceful development and non-alignment. The stimulation of the powers present in the region has put the achievement of regional hegemony on the agenda.
Given the undeniable impact of economic growth and development as a bedrock of national stability and security, strengthening the economic strength and stability of Central Asia is closely linked to addressing China’s security problems and this issue is one of the main axes of the Silk Road initiative. The purpose of this plan is to help develop the countries of Central Asia and the western regions of China to ensure security and political stability in China. Therefore, China’s approach in Central Asia is economic and trade dominance as an important prerequisite for ensuring stability and security in western China. However, China’s emergence as a major power in Central Asia has become an undeniable fact due to its economic dominance, energy interests, and political influence. However, it should be emphasized that increasing China’s influence by using strategies such as the Silk Road Initiative, despite its declared policy, is not merely economic, but pursuing political and security interests and providing necessary grounds for expanding China’s influence and hegemony in the periphery. At the heart of the plan, of course, is China’s denial of this approach in the international arena, given the considerations of peaceful development.
To further its interests in the region, China has put on the agenda a comprehensive effort to expand its hegemony in Central Asia; the Silk Road Initiative, with its large investment volume. Its vision is taking important steps toward achieving its strategic goals internationally. Based on the results of the study, China, relies on economic growth and development, to counter the US unilateralism in the international system, to establish regional influence and hegemony by using the capacities of the Silk Road initiative. In this regard, in order not to arouse the sensitivity of the United States and preventing it from taking precautionary measures and interventionist steps in this field, it has pursued a cautious foreign policy and has focused its activities on economic relations with the countries of Central Asia.


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