China launched the Gaofen-6 earth observation satellite on June 2. It was launched using a Long March 2D rocket from Jiuquan Satellite launch center. This marks the 276th mission of Long March 2D. It will be used for agricultural resource research and disaster monitoring.

This satellite is part of the Gaofen satellites already in orbit. This is a family of remote sensing satellites.

Sina, a major share holder in Weibo plans to have a secondary listing in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It is already listed in NASDAQ.

This comes after Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Market the show runners at The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited decided to loosen norms to attract mainland Chinese tech firms. Shanghai and Shenzhen based stock exchanges have also been trying to lure the same companies using Chinese Depository Receipts. According to Chinese securities regulator: China Securities Regulatory Commission’s norms only Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and JingDong are eligible for the depository receipts.


Seeking Arrangement an American dating platform with a twist might face regulatory restrictions in China. This portal has seen rapid growth in the Chinese market. However its ability to connect couples for financial reasons is something that has been frowned upon.

In the last one month the Taiwan (Republic of China) government lost two diplomatic allies Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso. With this Taiwan is left with eighteen diplomatic allies in the world. The list can be found here

On May 25, the Taiwanese military flew its jets close to PLA Airforce bombers carrying out a drill close to Taiwan.

The diplomatic lives of these two leaders are somewhat neatly separated by the Second World War and the accompanying international order. They never met personally, although a series of letters which Smuts called ‘paper bombs’ passed between them after the UN Resolution of 1946. When Jan Smuts died and the Cambridge University chancellorship fell vacant, Nehru was the leading choice. However, Nehru did not contest and withdrew because he thought it would be looked upon unfavorably in India.

Their personal biographies have much in common: both were Cambridge-educated lawyers who returned home to immerse themselves in their respective struggles for freedom from British rule, and both were central to the negotiated transitions that followed. These two nation-builders, both scorned by critics at home for being more concerned about international affairs than domestic politics, made defining contributions to world affairs and emerged as world statesmen cut from the finest cloth. Drawn towards the Fabian ideas of English politics, both were often criticized at home for being ‘too English’. Yet, they were Fabians of their respective times.

Smuts was a pre-Second World War politician whose views on race were quite consistent with the mainstream liberal thinking within the Empire. The interwar period of international politics may be remembered for its lofty but misplaced ideals, such as World Government, but there is – even now – little scrutiny of the racism that passed as common sense among white intellectual, supposedly progressive elites. The idea of World Government – the liberal utopia of the times – was as much a racist idea, for ‘uncivilized’ non-Europeans were to be governed through mandates and colonial trusteeship. In contrast, Nehru embodied the post-Second World War moral order of political and racial egalitarianism thrust upon the white world by the decolonized nations. Judged according to the world they lived in and made, Smuts was the most important liberal statesman from the non-Western white world in the post-First World War era, while Nehru emerged as the distinctive liberal statesman of the colored peoples of the world in the post-Second World War era. Just as Smuts was a champion of the decolonizing white world, Nehru spoke as the voice of the decolonizing colored world. Smuts was the brain behind the Wilsonian moment in world politics; Nehru was at the heart of the Bandung moment.  Smuts’ ‘romance of the veld’ and Nehru’s ‘revolt against the west’ were both crucial in decentering the international, albeit with different moral, racial and geopolitical consequences.

One can even find strong resonances between Smutsian pan- Africanism and Nehru’s pan-Asianism. From his first public speech in 1895, pan-Africanism appeared in Smuts’ speeches time and again. While more often than not his schemes for Africa were imperialist, towards the latter part of his life he denounced any notions of a ‘United States of Africa’ and a ‘Monroe Doctrine for this continent’ as utopia. Relatively secure of the white rule in the continent by now, in a speech in April 1940 he had suitably modified his pan-Africanism to being an idea about a socially and economically integrated continent.  Likewise, Nehru, although sufficiently circumspect about any ideas of a pan-Asian federation that Indian nationalists had started advancing from the early 1920s, organized the Asian Relations Conference in 1947, the first ever conference of Asian leaders. Nehru’s pan-Asianism was imagined more in terms of an alternative world order. Asia, for him, could emerge as an ‘area of peace’, comprising countries outside bloc politics. Finally, if Smuts imagined the British Commonwealth of Nations as the most apt representation of his holism, Nehru went a step further and imagined ‘One World’. Both, in some ways, cautioned against arriving too early at a conception of evil within the liberal paradigm. Smuts sympathized with a defeated Germany after the First World War and Nehru pushed for a more sympathetic consideration of communist countries such as the USSR and China. In their own ways, they engineered ideas that were subversive in one context but terribly imperialist in another. For every South-West Africa that Smuts was not willing to sacrifice for his idealism, Nehru had his Kashmirs.

An instructive example of this is their approach to the Commonwealth and how each engineered subversive shifts in the understanding of this institution. When Smuts first articulated his idea of the British Commonwealth in the mid-1910s, it was proposed against the idea of a unitary colonial state – Imperial Federation – in circulation at the time. Smuts’ idea of a British Commonwealth was more of a spiritual unity under the British Crown within which the dominions and India would enjoy relative autonomy (even in foreign policy). The autonomy of the dominions and India was important for Smuts, and the Commonwealth developed along these lines after the First World War. However, for Smuts, two institutions were central to the idea of the Commonwealth: the British monarchy and the imperial conferences.

This understanding of the Commonwealth was first challenged by Nehru and India’s independence.  In the decolonizing Commonwealth, both the monarchy and the control of Britain were seen as signifiers of a colonial past. For Nehru, the Commonwealth was not a spiritual Empire, as Smuts had argued, but an organization for the people, united by a common history and liberal values. He redefined the Commonwealth by doing away with the physical hegemony of Britain, while retaining its intellectual and moral hegemony. In his last days, Smuts regretted this change and was deeply critical of India remaining in the Commonwealth despite being a republic.

Towards the end of their lives both looked like misfits in the world they helped make. Smuts’ liberalism was past its sell-by date, as he increasingly faced jibes of being a hypocrite at the UN in 1946. He never visited the UN again. Likewise, Nehru’s proclamations of a human rights-based world order were contrasted against his government’s violent actions in Kashmir, Hyderabad, Goa and Nagaland. Two years before his death, Nehru received a rude shock that his visions of a new world order, based on what the Australian scholar Priya Chacko calls Nehru’s theory of friendship, were hopelessly unrealistic. He never recovered from military defeat at the hands of China in 1962 and died a dejected man.

The worlds and worldviews of Jan Smuts and Jawaharlal Nehru were separated by what Du Bois called a ‘color line’. The global visions of Smuts and Nehru were informed by two opposite racial imaginings of liberalism. But within the liberal framework, Nehru also plays the role of Smuts’ successor as one who makes liberalism racially and politically inclusive but is also constantly troubled by the sometimes hypocritical nature of his own actions

David İmoisi, originally from Nigeria, is currently studying international relations at Yakin Dogu Universitesi in Cyprus. His interests revolve around international politics and diplomacy.

As the world anxiously looked forward to the historic moment of a diplomatic deal between Washington and Pyongyang in Singapore by June 12 this year, the president of US, Donald Trump made a diplomatic stopgap in his letter where he momentarily called off the summit. He said in the letter which he dictated and dated May 24, 2018 and addressed to the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, that “We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel like it is inappropriate at this time to have this long-planned summit.”

There is high propensity to take the decision to call off the summit as nothing unusual  judging from other recent diplomatic deals Trump’s administration backtracked from or caused to fall through but constructivism as a theory of international relations requires us to look at the social construction of reality, and question what is frequently taken for granted.

The White House, before the abrupt turn of event, had primed preparation for the epochal diplomatic meeting with the minting of dozens of commemorative coins embossed with the words “peace talk” and headshots of Trump and Kim. This is preponderant to accentuate and justify Trump’s reference to himself in recent weeks as a candidate for Nobel Peace Prize. Analyzing the reasons why the peace talk hit the wall through the lens of constructivism presupposes that we explore the logic of consequence and appropriateness behind the action of the two leaders.

Constructivism is about human consciousness and its role in international life. It emphasizes the role of collectively held idea such as knowledge, language, symbols and rules.

Washington and the Logic of Consequence and Appropriateness

The logic of consequence attributes action to the anticipated costs and benefits mindful that other actors are doing the same. The logic of appropriateness, however, highlights how actors are rule-following, worrying about whether their actions are legitimate. The legitimacy of action here is determined by the way it is viewed in the society.

Implicit in Trump’s letter is the perception that North Korea was not reciprocating the commitment the US had shown towards the summit which reminds one of the similar claim that US was making a greater concession which plagued and frustrated former president Bill Clinton’s earlier efforts. Trump expressed this citing the “tremendous anger” and open hostility from Pyongyang. The lack of commitment as some of the officials of the White House explained include failure to show up when the US sent an advance team to Singapore, inability to verify North Korea’s claim that it destroyed its nuclear testing site which was done without inviting nuclear experts, and objection to routine annual military exercise. The last straw was the slamming of the US vice president, Mike Pence by one of the aide’s of Kim who referred to him as a political dummy over his statement that North Korea will go the way of Libya if both sides fail to agree to a deal.

There has been a longstanding mistrust between North Korea and US since the early days US discovered the secret nuclear project at Yongbyon through its satellite. The republicans have never considered diplomatic negotiation as the appropriate action to make North Korea give up its nuclear programme thereby vehemently opposed to the efforts of Clinton in the 1990s to build two plants for the North Korea with light fuel, in place of uranium. North Korea also failed to keep its side of the agreement and went ahead with producing uranium. The relations between the two countries deteriorated further with former president George Bush designating North Korea as one of the “axis of evil” in the post September 11.

There are those in the US who posited  that certain matters in the diplomatic negotiation between the two countries needed to be done with high confidentiality till there was substantial agreement as a complete pack, to sell at home. Ilan Goldenberg for example made a prognosis that the deal with the North Korea might be scuttled in a similar way the leaking of sensitive negotiation positions to about 52 million followers of the President on twitter hamstringed the US  trade negotiation with China.

“The Libyan Model”, North Korea and the Logic of Consequence and Appropriateness

Constructivists contend that not only material elements such as level of armament that matter in international relations but also non-material elements such as language, idea and symbol. The allusion to Libya by the US vice president and how it was interpreted by North Korea provide a good instance for this. The late Libyan leader, Muammer Gaddafi was persuaded by the  Bush administration to give up his secret nuclear program in 2003 only to be deposed eight years later and beaten to death by rebels backed by NATO forces. The “Libyan Model”, to Pyongyang, therefore signified a threat of regime change and capitulation. Although the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo tried to clarify that the concept was only misconstrued and rather meant the process used by the Bush administration in 2003-2004 to make Libya totally denuclearize and welcome it into the international community, North Korea had every reason to think otherwise.

Possible Way Forward

Positively, Donald Trump did not rule out the possibility of reconsidering the summit in his letter, giving room for addressing salient issues raised. He concluded saying, “The world and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth.” It could be argued that no opportunity is lost yet.

Other parties to the negotiation such as Japan and South Korea have a great role to play. Also, rather than suggesting that China may be meddling with the diplomatic efforts and disinviting her from military exercises, it will give more assurance to North Korea to have her ally as part of the negotiation process. The two countries need to relieve the world of the incessant threats of nuclear war. As Ilan Gudenberg rightly observed, high-stake diplomatic negotiations are difficult and domestic politics apply additional pressure. But, if you do not do the very simple, basic things right such as ensuring the negotiation teams are on the same page, ensuring some level of secrecy while simultaneously building domestic support , there is no way you will even get close to an international breakthrough.

Kamal Ololade Ahmed is a postgraduate student at the Nigerian Defence Academy where he is pursuing a Master’s degree in Defence and Strategic Studies.


China launched the Gaofen-6 earth observation satellite on June 2. It was launched using a Long March 2D rocket from Jiuquan Satellite launch center. This marks the 276th mission of Long March 2D. It will be used for agricultural resource research and disaster monitoring. 

This satellite is part of the Gaofen satellites already in orbit. This is a family of remote sensing satellites.

Sina, a major share holder in Weibo plans to have a secondary listing in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It is already listed in NASDAQ.

This comes after Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Market the show runners at The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited decided to loosen norms to attract mainland Chinese tech firms. Shanghai and Shenzhen based stock exchanges have also been trying to lure the same companies using Chinese Depository Receipts. According to Chinese securities regulator: China Securities Regulatory Commission’s norms only Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and JingDong are eligible for the depository receipts.

Seeking Arrangement an American dating platform with a twist might face regulatory restrictions in China. This portal has seen rapid growth in the Chinese market. However its ability to connect couples for financial reasons is something that has been frowned upon.

In the last one month the Taiwan (Republic of China) government lost two diplomatic allies Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso. With this Taiwan is left with eighteen diplomatic allies in the world. The list can be found at

On May 25, the Taiwanese military flew its jets close to PLA Airforce bombers carrying out a drill close to Taiwan

China is effectively using its economic muscle in the changing world order. Today, China uses geoeconomic instruments effectually to achieve its geopolitical ends. China is playing its geoeconomic cards to expand its markets from its neighbouring countries to other Asian states and to Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. China has overtly declared that it does not desire to seek hegemony. However, every state including the US and Russia is suspicious of China’s extensive practice of geoeconomics.

China reaching out to its purse instead of a gun

Harris and Blackwill (2016) argue in their book War by Other Means that China looks to geoeconomic means often as its first resort to undermine American influence and power. They criticize the US for abandoning economic techniques of statecraft which China has aptly adopted. “Despite having the most powerful economy on earth, the United States too often reaches for the gun instead of the purse in its international conduct, “they addedHowever, China has started reaching out to its purse to advance its geopolitical ends in the changing world order.

While referring to the US geoeconomic power, Glen Diesen (2017) argues that the US has an ample potential to revive its geoeconomic power because of the ‘Shale Revolution.’ Moreover, he argues that since China is the principal geoeconomic rival of the US, so the realist theory would expect that after reviving its geoeconomics, the US would contain China.

Geoeconomic power of China and the US

Ian Bremmer (2016), President Eurasia Group argues that for frenemies geoeconomics is the perfect instrument. What means China uses and what are its aims behind using those means are the questions raised by China’s geoeconomic power in relation to the US. According to Bremmer (2016), there are four areas in which China’s geoeconomic power against the US plays out:

  1. In China

China’s economic muscle is its geopolitical power. Geoeconomic agenda of China begins at home. It has really become difficult for foreign firms to do business in China because of the various laws and restrictions. However, China’s population of 1.4 billion would make Chinese economic policymakers to realize that they would need foreign direct investment from the US. They have already started working on it (Bremmer, 2016).

  1. In the US

Bremmer (2016) further argues that Chimerica (China-US Relations) is characterized by mutually assured destruction (MAD). China is not only US’s largest trading partner but it is also the leading holder of its treasuries. These reasons are not captivating for China because of China’s approach to direct investment in the US. China is interested in having a strong foothold in the US. What’s most intriguing in this situation is that China is coming close to beating the US in its own game by understanding the capitalism rules.

  1. In International Institutions

Bremmer (2016) argues that China seeks to adapt and scrap the US’s global economic and political system. He refers to the Chinese efforts to maximize its leverage within the Bretton Woods institutions. China’s Asian Infrastructure Investments Bank (AIIB), according to Bremmer (2016) is its attempt to defect from the Bretton Woods system. This is debatable. However, US’s allies like the UK, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia etc., have opted to be part of AIIB which in fact support Bremmer’s argument. Moreover, Harris and Blackwill (2016) argue that Chinese promotion of AIIB is to rival the Bretton Woods system. AIIB is also a threat to Manila-based Asian Development Bank in which the US and Japan are the two largest shareholders.

  1. In third-party countries

Because of its ability to deliver fast cash, China has been successfully outplaying the US in Africa and Latin America. Bremmer (2016) however sees this suspiciously because he believes that China’s economy will become fragile and third-party countries will see what good the US represents for them because of liberal world order beliefs.

Trade War between China and the US

In 2017, the trade deficit of the US was $375 billion with China. The US exports to China were $130 billion while its imports were $506 billion. Trump’s imposition of tariffs on imported Chinese goods, met with a tit-for-tat response from Chinese authorities which gave rise to the trade war between China and the US. However, it is reported that both the countries have reached a trade deal this month. In this regard, Edward Elden (2018) comments, “If nothing further is done, the US-China trade deal reached this month will be remembered, to quote a phrase coined by the current president of the United States, as ‘the single worst trade deal’ ever negotiated.” It is yet to be found out what comes out of this China-US trade war and subsequent trade deal.


The US, indeed, is a military power and will remain so for unforeseeable future. According to Andrew Hurrell, the US has a vast global network of 750 overseas military bases in over 100 countries. This clearly shows the US hard power. However, China followed a different suit to cater the US. China used its soft-power rather smart power to advance its geopolitical aims. The US is going to remain the superpower and a hegemon in the world politics. China, on the other hand, would use its geoeconomic muscle to advance its geopolitical ends and shape a China-centric world order.

Muhammad Murad has been writing for different magazines and blogs since 2011. He initially started writing on social issues of Pakistan and later on, he began writing on internal and external issues related to Pakistan. Currently, he is Young Diplomats’ ambassador in Pakistan. He believes in a peaceful liberal democratic world away from war and conflict which would be possible by the power of the pen, not the gun. Muhammad is a business graduate turned  social scientist and aspires to be a writer.

Today, it is nearly impossible for any region to avoid China. China has adapted itself to have this current position in the world order. From free-market economic reforms to the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), China has worked smartly to strengthen its economic might which it currently uses to advance its geopolitical ends. 

China has started promoting its investment and trade in Eurasia to advance its geopolitical aims. In this regard, Sergei Guriev, Visiting Professor, Paris Institute of Political Science, says that the trade and investment in Eurasia is one of China’s key foreign policy initiatives. He adds that China’s investment in Eurasia is significant for the new Silk Road vision connecting China to the North African, Middle Eastern and European markets.

In this article, China’s use of economic tools to gain the geopolitical advantage in Eurasia will be discussed. In this context, China-Russia geoeconomic relationship will also be discussed.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Eurasia

Glenn Diesen (2017) writes in his book Russia’s Geoeconomic Strategy for Greater Eurasia that China’s Silk Road Economic Belt aims at connecting Eurasia with land-based energy and transportation infrastructure. Belt and Road Initiative was first announced in this region. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the One Belt, One Road Initiative in September 2013 during his speech in Kazakhstan. He underlined the role of Central Asia and Kazakhstan in connectivity projects of Eurasia.

Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC)

China is efficiently using Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) to export its goods and meet its energy needs. According to Diesen (2017) Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) is a transportation connectivity program connecting China to Central Asia. It was initiated in 2001 before the Belt and Road Initiative.  CAREC includes 11 countries; China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Kazakhstan. It aimed at facilitating 5% of all trade between East-Asia and Europe by 2017. In 2008, the first trains ran between Germany and China. However, it was by 2013 that the transportation route became competitive to maritime routes by clearly announcing set time schedules, improving travel time and reducing transportation cost. In order to make the transportation route economically viable, adequate trade volume along with infrastructural development and mechanisms is indispensable. By 2011, approximately 200 containers used to pass from the Central Asian Territory which increased to 42000 containers by 2016. Moreover, in order to meet its energy needs, China has constructed pipelines through Central Asia and it is a consumer of Turkmenistan’s majority of gas exports. In this regard, China is also developing, Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan which is world’s second-largest gas field (Deisen, 2017 p. 85).

China-Russia Geoeconomic Relationship

According to Sergei Guriev, Russia traditionally looked suspiciously at China’s growing influence in Central and Far East Asia. The Russian government did not allow investment of Chinese companies in Russia until recently and in order to keep away the same, it would expand Eurasian Economic Space and Customs Union to its neighbouring countries. Owing to western sanctions on Russia after the war in eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, the west isolated Russia and Russia looked towards East as a counterforce. Since then Russia has become part of Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) and New Development Bank (NDB) and Chinese companies have been permitted to buy stakes in energy industry of Russia. Moreover, Chinese investors have also been leased a large area of land in the Far East.

In addition to this, Glenn Diesen (2017) writes that in order to connect China with Russian Pacific Coast ports, to develop Arctic Sea Route and rail and road development to Europe, Russia has become a significant transportation partner of China. Furthermore, with the Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline, Russia supplies oil to China and it aims to supply gas with the power of Siberia – 1 and Siberia – 2 pipelines by 2019 (Diesen, 2017 & The Moscow Times, 2018).

In a way, western sanctions proved to be a blessing in disguise for both Russia and China. It has become a win-win situation for both the countries and that is what politics of geoeconomics is all about.

China’s geoeconomic influence and Russian apprehensions

Moscow’s biggest apprehension is China-US bipolar system disguised as a unipolar system. The Road and Belt (BRI) initiative also undermines Russian influence in Central Asia which was maintained by the transportation and energy infrastructure of USSR era until a few years ago. Moreover, with the increasingly assertive Chinese naval activities in South and the East China Sea, Russia is afraid that they could be extended to the Sea of Arctic and Okhotsk (Diesen, 2017, p. 89).

China’s geoeconomics and attitude of Russia’s Neighbours

Sergei Guriev believes that Russian neighbouring countries are welcoming Chinese involvement in the region because they are worried of “Big Brother’s” efforts to restore its geopolitical muscle. Kazakhstan is most importantly worried about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s words, “there was no Kazakh State before Nursultan Nazarbayev.” Putin has given such statements about Ukraine before the annexation of Crimea. Therefore, Russian neighbouring countries, most importantly Kazakhstan, are worried about Russia’s next moves. That is why they are interested in Chinese investment as a major economic counterweight to Russia’s dominance in the region.

China and Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is the most developed ex-Soviet ‘istan,” writes Rapoza in Forbes. He further adds that Kazakhstan is effectively taking advantage of the Chinese Silk Road. With around $8 billion in 2017, China has invested around $20 billion in Kazakhstan since 2014. Rich in oil, sharing the border with China and connecting China with Europe via its rail network, Kazakhstan holds a great significance for China.

To seek the internal insight on China’s geoeconomic moves in the region generally and Kazakhstan particularly, this author contacted a journalist from Kazakhstan.

China is becoming more and more active in the region. Astana particularly very much welcomes the Chinese cooperation, I believe for several reasons,” comments Yerbulan Akhmetav, a journalist from Kazakhstan. Some of the reasons are obvious while others are latent. “Kazakhstan welcomes China because it wants to diversify its economy and move away from exports of natural resources. It wants to start manufacturing good with the help of China by attaching itself logistically to Chinese industries,” he adds them as obvious reasons. These reasons are economical in nature. However, latent reasons are more of political in nature. “Cooperation with China is to diversify foreign interests in Kazakhstan,” he remarks. Moreover, the rationale behind such cooperation is to secure the national interests of Kazakhstan. “The logic is to keep Russian, Chinese, American and if possible European Union investors in Kazakhstan so that they all will have something to lose if there is a political or military aggression towards Kazakhstan,” reflects Akhmetav. Sino-phobia is inevitable when people see so many Chinese walking in their streets. Akhmetav talked about the same phobia taking place in Kazakhstan. While talking other Central Asian countries, he added that it is likely that their relationship with China is motivated for similar economic and political reasons. China is one of the biggest importers of oil in the world and it is interested in the region for oil. Kazakhstan old importance for China because it is an oil-rich country which also happens to share a border with it, he concludes.


Geoeconomics is a positive sum game. China has become vital for Eurasia while Eurasia is crucial for China to meet its energy needs and reach out to its markets. Russia, however, is somewhat suspicious of Chinese moves in Eurasia. Despite this, it could not ignore China’s investments pouring into Russia. Russia’s neighbours being afraid of the “Big Brother’s” next moves welcomed the Chinese investments in their countries.

Muhammad Murad has been writing for different magazines and blogs since 2011. He initially started writing on social issues of Pakistan and later on, he began writing on internal and external issues related to Pakistan. Currently, he is Young Diplomats’ ambassador in Pakistan. He believes in a peaceful liberal democratic world away from war and conflict which would be possible by the power of the pen, not the gun. Muhammad is a business graduate turned  social scientist and aspires to be a writer.

China has the largest aircraft carrier building program in the world, after USA. The pace of carrier building and the development of the relevant air crafts has been without any major delays or issues till now. Will China People’s Liberation Army- Navy(PLA-N) one day challenge the US Navy in the Pacific?



Glen Diesen (2017) defines geoeconomics as the economics of geopolitics in his book Russia’s Geoeconomic Strategy for a Greater Eurasia. He further adds that with more destructive weapons and growing economic interdependence in a globalized world, the power derives progressively from control over financial institutions, transportation corridors and strategic markets rather than territory. Moreover, in their book War by Other Means Jennifer M. Harris and Robert Blackwill (2016) define geoeconomics as “the use of economic instruments to promote and defend national interests, and to produce beneficial geopolitical results and effects of other nations’ economic actions on country’s geopolitical goals.” Thus, one can define geoeconomics as an economic instrument or set of instruments to achieve geopolitical ends.

China effectively uses the geoeconomic instruments to achieve its geopolitical aims in the twenty-first century.

China’s Economic Might in a Glimpse:

A specialist in Asian Trade and Finance, Wayne M. Morrison, argues that before the Chinese economic reforms of 1979, the Chinese economy was isolated from the other economies of the world besides keeping its economy centrally-controlled, poor, inefficient and stagnant. The economic reforms resultantly brought in foreign investment and trade into China. China, since then, has witnessed one of the fastest growing GDP growth rates in the world. China’s economy saw almost a double-digit GDP growth rate on an average in last three decades. According to the Trading Economics Website, China’s GDP growth rate from 1989-2017 on an average was nearly 9.66% which is slightly lesser than the two-digit growth rate that China maintained from 1989-2014 on an average. Besides this, China is not only the largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity but also the largest holder of foreign exchange reserves, largest manufacturer and merchandise trader. In 2017, China’s exports were $2.3 trillion.

Changing China Story:

According to Mark Leonard, ECFR Director, “If the big China story of the past few decades was about growth, exports and investments, the story of the next decade will be about the creation of a Chinese economic and political order.” He, furthermore, argues that despite its slow growth rate in the past few years, China has become part of the fabric of economic life of most countries around the world. Rather than overthrowing existing institutions as many had feared, China is utilizing its economic might to develop a series of relationships which connect world in a more China-Centric world order, Leonard adds. Moreover, Leonard says that the new world order (economic and political order) is designed differently from the Western-led multilateral institutions because China prefers to craft a series of bilateral and multilateral relationships with different states and also with regional forums or organizations.

China’s Geo-economic muscle in the 21st Century:

Jennifer M. Harris and Robert Blackwill (2016) in their book War by Other Means state that there are at least seven economic tools apposite to the geopolitical application: trade, investments, sanctions, cyber, aid, financial and monetary policy, and national policies governing energy and commodities.

China effectively uses all these tools to meet its geopolitical ends. However, Wu Xinbo (2016), Executive Dean, Fudan University China, argues that China’s geoeconomic power particularly lies in five areas.

1. Trade

China, owing to its large exports and the largest domestic market, uses Trade as a geo-economic tool commendably. From Asia-Pacific to Africa and from Europe to Latin America China maintains trade relations with over a 100 countries. Xinbo (2016) in this regard claims that China is the largest trading partner of over a 130 states.

  1. Investment Policy

China became an active provider of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) after the global financial Crisis of 2008. Behind only from US and Japan, China became the third largest investor country from 2012 to 2014 (Xinbo, 2016). However, according to World Investment Report 2017, China has become the second largest investor country in the world, leaving Japan behind. It is, furthermore, estimated that China is going to take over US in this regard by 2020. China’s investments are focused on infrastructure and energy mostly. These investments contribute to China’s geoeconomic power in the twenty-first century.

  1. Financial Institutions

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and New Development Bank (NDB) are established recently. AIIB aims at providing financial support to the One Belt-One Road (OBOR) Initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping which he announced in 2013 in Astana, Kazakhstan. NDB is BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) bank which aims at providing financial assistance to infrastructure projects in BRICS countries (Xinbo, 2016). Xinbo (2016) adds that China holds over 30% of shares in AIIB and 41% of shares in NDB which give China more leverage in operations and making of rules of both the institutions. China’s economic power will enhance as states start taking assistance from these institutions.

Moreover, some argue that main objective behind AIIB is to compete with and eventually replace Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Bretton Woods Institutions in Asia-Pacific. However, it would be premature to compare and contrast between these at this stage.

  1. Internationalization of Renminbi (RMB)

China started the policy of internationalizing of Renminbi from 2009. Internationalization of Renminbi includes its use in international investment and trade and also its inclusion in the reserves assets held by central banks in other countries (Xinbo, 2016). In 2015, Yuan (Renminbi) received the status of a reserve currency from IMF. Renminbi was added to IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket in 2016. Yuan (Renminbi) is included in the Special Drawing Rights basket of IMF along with Euro, US dollar, British Pound and Japanese Yen.

  1. Infrastructure alliances under Road and Belt Initiative (BRI)

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will connect China with the world from Asia-Pacific to Europe and from Latin America to Africa. Currently, there are 65 countries part of China’s Belt and Road initiative. China is building infrastructure, pipelines and helping countries to get rid of their energy woes.

Besides these instruments, China also uses Cyber as an effective geoeconomic tool to achieve its geopolitical ends.

Cyber as a Geo-economic Instrument for China

Jennifer M. Harris and Robert Blackwill (2016) in their book War by Other Means state that although it is quite uncertain to gauge the magnitude and nature of cyber-attacks yet there is a good reason to consider cyber as the most powerful and the newest instrument of geoeconomics. They further argue that most of the IP addresses of the cyber-attacks can be traced inside China and Russia. They quote a private study and state that in any given day, cyberattacks account for nearly 15% but this figure plunged to 6.5% on October 1, 2011, when many workers in China took leave owing to China’s National Day. Furthermore, with regards to China’s use of cyber, Farid Zakaria opines in his article published in The Washington Post on April 5, 2018, “Look at the Chinese economy today. It has managed to block or curb the world’s most advanced and successful technology companies, from Google to Facebook to Amazon. Foreign banks often have to operate with local partners who add zero value — essentially a tax on foreign companies.” He adds that during these attacks intellectual property and secrets of American companies are shared with their Chinese competitors. Thus, cyber proves to be an effective and the most powerful geoeconomic tools in this era of social media and technology. However, understanding of Cyber as a geoeconomic tool needs thorough understanding which is beyond the scope of this article.

In addition to this, Financial and Economic Sanctions is also a geoeconomic instrument but China does not believe in it or at least does not use it overtly. However, China equivocally insinuates that it can use it against countries which support Taiwan’s independence claim and maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.


China’s economic might has enabled it to gain geoeconomic power in the 21st century. Unlike US and other powers of the past, China is using its muscles differently. It is reaching out to its purse instead of a gun to achieve its geopolitical ends as authors of War by Other Means put it. In this regard, China uses several geoeconomic instruments from trade and investments policy to cyber-attacks effectively which are on their way to shape China-centric world order.

Muhammad Murad has been writing for different magazines and blogs since 2011. He initially started writing on social issues of Pakistan and later on, he began writing on internal and external issues related to Pakistan. Currently, he is Young Diplomats’ ambassador in Pakistan. He believes in a peaceful liberal democratic world away from war and conflict which would be possible by the power of the pen, not the gun. Muhammad is a business graduate turned  social scientist and aspires to be a writer.

Modern diplomatic practice as we know it today has evolved from a generous history of traditions, protocols and narratives. While the United States (US) president Donald Trump is a new face in the diplomatic community, he has already built a reputation for being largely unpredictable thus the twist in the possibility of formal diplomatic roundtable discussions between these countries happening is feasible in the near future.

While the winter Olympic games in Pyeonchang, South Korea may have provided a soft takeoff for the possibility of the talks holding following high level delegation from both North Korea (DPRK) in person of Kim’s sister Kim Yo-Jong and the United States vice president Mike Pence both in official capacity; Kim Jon Un unnaounced and hurried trip to China who is DPRK’s biggest market show a sign at these crucial moment that China wants a fair share of the ‘deal’ and will use its economic, geographical, and strategic influence over DPRK to influence negotiation and inturn give China upgraded shots at negotiations for concessions from the US or to merely score a mark for being sidelined in the early process.

Unlike China that has a relative offer to the US, DPRK is at a disadvantage on the table with the US except for longstanding threats of a “mutually assured destruction” thus making the game (negotiation) adopt a zero-sum approach. More so, hurried attempts by long time US diplomatic foe Russia’s attempt to influence the talks are emerging following DPRK’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho’s visit to Moscow  this April and an acceptance of a reciprocal visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the coming days all in a bid to ensure their interests are protected in these conversations

As conversations between the US and DPRK started becoming official and passing through the State Department and DPRK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs despite being sworn enemies at all fronts in decades past, these two countries have actually kept in constant touch through back channels which involved both states secret service officials (Central Intelligence Unit for the US and General Reconnaissance Bureau for the DPRK) and the “New York Channel” which involve using permanent representatives of both countries to the UN. The channels have been effective in negotiating issues like hostage release, prisoners swap, extradition etc. especially when these acts are state funded most notably the 1968 USS Pueblo seizure by DPRK on its territorial waters. More to this is the recent revelationof new CIA chief Pompeo secretly meeting with Kim Jong Un.

As official channels open for talks, it will be about a location with historic and futuristic characteristics of neutrality and favourability for both sides with Sweden, Mongolia and Switzerland making proposals to host. While not much is known of Mongolia’s relevance to the talks, and Kim being partially raised in Switzerland, Sweden may emerge the stand alone contender due to its long standing ties to DPRK and its role of conducting consular responsibilities for US citizens in DPRK.

In summary, the use of back channels such as these is almost as old as diplomacy itself but becoming more prominent in our era of constant rivalry; despite admitably having its own forthcomings, historical agreements have been made and crises prevented through these channels. For the US – DPRK talks, the dialogue would certainly involved the “New York Channel” most notably through US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun and Pak Song Il, a senior DPRK diplomat at the United Nations.

Daniel Nwaeze – University of Lagos, Nigeria


We should be clear that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is not an aiding program from China to the involving countries, especially the developing ones. China is not doing any charity with the BRI. The investments, trading and other projects will be profit oriented; it does not matter whether profit could be short or long term.

BRI is an established set of mechanism. I would like to take it as a new concept of regional and global development. If you review the bilateral agreement and relating projects China has signed with countries concerned you may find that there is no such standard version of cooperation under BRI. They were all negotiated and finalized in a mutual trust and win-win spirit. To shoulder the risk and burden together and share the achievements I also believe that more diversified form of cooperation will be adopted as more countries like Nepal are joining the BRI.

While talking about BRI and the Marshall Plan forged by the US after the World War II, I do not find any synchronization between the two. For instance, there might be some political intentions for China to promote this initiative so actively. However, it is totally different from Marshall Plan, which directly aimed at controlling the involved countries politically and economically.

The BRI has been promoted without setting any political precondition and considering the historical anecdotes about China it is difficult to buy the idea of Western scholars regarding the BRI that China might push its Communist ideology along with BRI as a major factor in this commercial world of today.

Although President Xi Jinping has famously said that China is a peaceful nation and will not interfere in the political affairs of any other nation, the recent political debacle in South Asian Countries like Maldives and Sri Lanka (debt trap) has seriously raised the question of Chinese influence in the internal politics of those countries.

The adoption of Mandarin as a national language of Pakistan, another South Asian country, is also a Chinese influence in internal politics of another country. Official consideration of national language seldom might be regarded as a minor issue as it has the potential to replicate the challenges in days to come. These three countries’ politics has been in turmoil within a short span of time due to their over-dependence with China.

These issues can be analyzed in another way too. Those three countries might have envisioned China as the alternate force to balance some other country or power. Similarly, their engagement with China does not seem to have been prepared well. China is a paramount factor in the today’s world unlike its predecessor. The Chinese are much focused on their agenda and they are clear about what they are seeking from their friends and foes.

The interactions between Nepal and China

Is Nepal prepared enough to engage with China in a robust way? To address the asymmetrical dependence of Nepal with India, Nepal needs to cooperate with China in all possible aspects. China and India are the only neighbors of Nepal. We do not have any other choices but to befriend them. Both are our geographical compulsions. To end the asymmetric dependence of Nepal with India, China is only a better choice.

Should the bitter experience of South Asian neighbors with India inspire us to pivot to China? It is true that Nepal wants to escape from political, economic and even psychological hegemony of India over Nepal in many senses. But we should not advocate China as an alternate to India. Nepal needs to take steps to correct the policy courses from equidistance to equi-proximity with two neighbors and reinvigorate relations which could be adapted to changing circumstances with both of our neighbors.

As we can figure out, the modality of International Politics within a decade has distinctly changed with the lasting impacts. Wars, conflict and terror still are in the driving seat; however, the present world is more inclined towards the commercial aspects. Chinese cities are slowly but steadily accepted as modern economic hubs.

Nepal can meaningfully cooperate with China in days to come. Will Nepal be in a position to reap the fruits from the cooperation? If we do not do proper homework in the near future, BRI could be next World Trade Organization for us.

China’s business with Nepal is expanding every year. However, the trade balance vigorously favors China. Considering the statistics presented by the Trade and Export Promotion Center (TEPC) China has surpassed India in the commerce in Nepal. Chinese trade has grown 17 times more in Nepal since 2006. If we look at Nepal’s trade with China in the past one year, exports have decreased by 22.6 percent and import has been increased by 13.8 percent (TEPC, 2017). Can we imagine what might be the condition with the proper implementation of BRI project and its embedded infrastructure?

Nepal hasn’t been able to decrease trade deficit in spite of being given zero tariffs for nearly 9,000 Nepali products in China. The government of Nepal still appears to be unprepared and unclear to deal with this issue. The main objective of BRI is connectivity and infrastructure. China has ample of things to export. But what are we going to export to China? Is only importing Chinese goods and Chinese tourists our purpose in joining the BRI project? BRI will benefit us only if we can re-customize it for our betterment.

With the implementation of BRI, Nepal will be free from singular sea route through India for international trade. Eventually, this could benefit Nepal in many prospects. However, we should also equally be vigilant about security challenges that might occur with Tibetan issues. Security challenges in Nepal ultimately will hamper stability of both the neighbours.