US Perspectives on China's Belt and Road Initiative in Central Asia adn the South Caucasus
By S. Frederick Starr
To date, the US response to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Central Asia and the Caucasus has been calm, if not tacitly supportive. Two main reasons for this are: (a) the reopening of age-old east–west trade corridors as one of the most important legacies of the collapse of the USSR and (b) it views the engage- ment of both China and Europe in east–west trade across Central Asia as fur- thering the Central Asians’ own ability to achieve balanced and positive relations between all the major powers, thereby constraining hegemonic aspirations from any quarter. Further, the United States supports the emergence of Central Asia as a defined world region akin to ASEAN or the Nordic Council and believes that reforms under way in Uzbekistan and elsewhere in the region serve that end as well as increase east–west and west–east trade across the region. Finally, the United States realizes that the ultimate judgement on the viability of BRI in Central Asia and the Caucasus will be that of the market and not geopolitics.