عنوان مقاله [English]
Introduction: Central Asia is geopolitically landlocked, demographically sparsely populated, economically underdeveloped and politically unimportant, but it has often been the subject of great powers competition. In the 19th century, this region was considered the center of the “Great Game” and in the 20th century, it was one of the points of friction between the Eastern and Western blocs. Today, US, China, Russia and India are the four main competing powers in Central Asia which are trying to dominate the region in order to reach the hegemonic position at the regional and international levels. Therefore, it seems that the competition of great powers is among the most effective factors in the international order in different regions, including Central Asia. Among the above-mentioned four great powers, it seems that the role of China and India needs to be investigated more than others because they play an increasing role in the order of this region and have been studied and researched less than Russia and the United States. China and India are usually seen as two emerging powers that sometimes face each other in terms of global power balance, regional rivalries, issues related to hard power and even economic issues. Among the regions where China and India seem to compete is Central Asia. The growing interests of these two states in Central Asia have disrupted the traditional “Great Game” in the heart of Asia. Although India still cannot compete with China’s strong influence in Central Asia, over time it has strengthened its positions in this region. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to address how the regional order of Central Asia is in the light of India-China rivalry.
Research Question: The question raised here is what role India and China have played in maintaining regional order in Central Asia. The answer to this question is especially important because the competition between these two states in Central Asia is expanding and both are great power candidates in the near future.
Research Hypothesis: Here, relying on the model of “Great Power Management”, it can be assumed that China and India have helped to maintain order in the region in the first step by managing their mutual competition in general and in the second step by curbing their regional conflicts in Central Asia.
Methodology (and Theoretical Framework if there are): The hypothesis has been tested using the combined method. On the one hand, by using the comparative method, the practice of China and India in order building in Central Asia is studied and On the other hand, the role of a factor (great powers) in a specific phenomenon (Central Asian regional order) is investigated with the functional explanatory method. In this article, the theory of the English school of IR and especially its emphasis on the role of great powers in the international order is applied. According to the English School of International Relations, one of the institutions that play a role in maintaining international order is “Great Power Management”. The role of great powers in ensuring international order is due to the inequality of governments in accessing power, but its performance also requires the recognition and approval of others.
Results and Discussion: In order to maintain regional order, great powers should focus on managing their bilateral relations in the first step. In this case, we have especially witnessed that China and India have moved in this direction by supporting and maintaining the balance of power at the level of international system. Since the sphere of influence of great powers goes beyond their surrounding areas, therefore, any change in the balance of power in international system also affects their bilateral relations. Therefore, maintaining the balance of power in international system is one of the factors affecting their mutual relations. Bilateral relations between China and India is no exception to this rule. The second step that great powers must take to maintain regional order is related to their behavior in the disputed region. One of the prominent strategies of great powers in managing regional order and preventing conflicts with other powers is to use their local superiority to control conflicts that can turn into crises if they escalate. According to this view, after the Cold War, China has achieved a significant position in Central Asia and in many cases has used its local priority to prevent the spread of existing crises. On the other hand, India has respected China’s spheres of influence and has avoided a strong reaction due to its delayed influence in Central Asia.
Conclusion: The regional order of Central Asia is largely influenced by the approaches and behaviors of the major powers operating there. Although India and China are not “great powers” in the strict sense, but according to their plans, efforts and vision, they can be included among the current main players and great power candidates in the international system. These two countries have played a prominent role in the regional order of Central Asia. In order to maintain regional order, major powers should focus on managing their bilateral relations in the first step. In this context, it has been especially observed that China and India have sought to support and maintain the balance of power in the international system. Moreover, New Delhi and Beijing have not allowed the crisis in their bilateral relations to get out of control and create widespread and uncontrollable tensions. The third strategy in this field refers to the joint action of India and China in Central Asia, which has been carried out in the form of joint institutions such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Therefore, these two powers have played a significant role in the regional order of Central Asia.