China’s Western Horizon: Beijing and the New Geopolitics of Eurasia Daniel S. Markey (Oxford University Press, 2020, 313 Pages)
Contemporary academic and policy literature on China and its universal goals focus on the country’s external actions and its motivations along with the response options to the United States (US). Western analysts have mainly highlighted the development projects like Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in their literature. They particularly analyze the feasibility, risk, and potential security propositions while seeking to comprehend how this extended reach will influence China’s rise through the lens of great-power antagonism rather than regional development. BRI’s eastward-facing maritime projects have received comparatively more concentration than its westward continental plans, given their immediate impact on the US allies and interests in the Indo-Pacific region. It is also pertinent to mention that whatever have done to examine China’s mounting connection across its western periphery have had a propensity to contemplate on individual countries or sub-regions rather than presenting a broader, proportional analysis. Daniel Markey’s remarkable and well-timed book, China’s Western Horizon: Beijing and the New Geopolitics of Eurasia, carefully supplements these approaches in three prominent ways.
Firstly, Markey focuses on local entities being the center of his analysis, distinguishing their functions as representatives able enough to form the range and impact of Chinese regional investment. He effectively draws the trajectories of China’s relations across the region and better assesses the implications and expected future guidelines of Beijing’s commitment. This approach gives a comprehensive perceptive of how local entities direct and use Chinese resources for their own personal and political aims, which affects the course of individual projects and BRI in the collective. This focal point also permits Markey to review the multifaceted ways in which China’s position is expected to expand in individual states, sub-regions and across Eurasia as a whole.
Secondly, Markey centers his analysis on Eurasia, a region less often considered in the perspective of Chinese engagement and one often unnaturally alienated by Western analysts into its parts as South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. At the same time, going to choose this way, he does not claim that the United States should treat Eurasia as uniformly fundamental to its interests as it does the maritime Indo-Pacific. Instead, he distinguishes the historical and geopolitical significance that Eurasia holds from Beijing’s perspective as the “greater Middle East” and builds a case for its learning as a broader unit.
Thirdly, Markey takes a comparative approach that draws together threads from the accessible state- and regional-level studies of Chinese engagement to disclose general trends across these connected contexts. Without arguing these domestic and sub-regional dynamics, he further explains more or less productively steered local and regional veracities. This approach is predominantly helpful for local officials looking to find out something from the experiences of likewise positioned states along this new Silk Road and for Western policymakers standardizing a suitable retort to China’s Eurasian approaches. Therefore, Markey identifies and suggests better tailoring the US policy responses based on a profound understanding of local and regional dynamics, insights of China, and its rendezvous in each country. A one-size-fits-all approach would menace over committing the United States in areas lacking a clear national interest, under-engaging in other areas more significant to the US objectives, missing possible opportunities for teamwork with China, and missed precise rising threats beyond the broader competition between China and the US. By requirement given time-span and capacity constraints, Markey focuses his analysis on Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Iran in unfolding regional dynamics and enmities in South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.
The contribution of this book to the study of China’s outer reach is noteworthy as it highlights the local entities determining BRI’s capacity and the focus it brings to Beijing’s continental plans, along with the frequent tensions it draws together a broad region. It highlights the future policy of China’s engagement in Eurasia, likely to be determined by the convergence of these factors and the significant trajectory of the US-China relations.