The increasing war of words and diplomatic brinkmanship is being witnessed around the world, and the South Caucasus will be no different. In the aftermath of the breakdown of the Soviet Union, the geopolitical competition between the US and Russia was seen to be the most prominent reality in the region.
VOİCEPRESS presents comment of Dr. Monish Tourangbam, Indian Senior Assistant Professor at the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Manipal Academy of Higher Education about the US-China great power competition and what it means for the South Caucasus?
The global balance of power between the US and China has become more confrontational, amid the COVID-19 outbreak. While the Chinese officials seem intent on using aggressive diplomacy, to block any criticism of Chinese policy, the US establishment seems focussed on coalescing international support to make China accountable for mishandling the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China and thus leading to a global pandemic. However, in recent times, the growing power of China and its expanding horizons of interest around the world, has led to the advent of new power dynamics in the region, including China. The South Caucasus has been witnessing a rapidly increasing presence of China, and the way the governments of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia has been engaging with Beijing, reflects an increasing footprint of Chinese investments and businesses in the region.
The region’s geostrategic location was being seen as instrumental in the implementation of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The trade and transport infrastructure that could pass through the region has the potential to make China’s route to Europe, shorter and cheaper. This has increased China’s strategic attention and is turning China into an undeniable influencer, in a geopolitical space, where the US, Russia and the European Union were seen as the major players. The South Caucasus countries have been increasingly receiving a high-level delegation from China, including by the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last year. True to its diplomatic style of functioning, China has chosen non-interference in the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan, an issue that has been largely mediated by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation. The South Caucasus may not be priority areas in the US or Chinese foreign policy, but will not be left untouched by the growing U.S.-China great power competition, and the countries in the region will perhaps be seen engaging in some acute balancing games, to extract favourable outcomes for themselves.