The proposed project explores the challenges and the possibilities of China in the South Caucasus region through geopolitical perspective

The proposed project explores the challenges and the possibilities of China in the South Caucasus region through geopolitical perspective. Strategically, the location of South Caucasus with three independent states: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, sits at the crossroads of vibrant global markets: Central Asia and China to the east; Turkey and Europe to the west; Russia to the north; and Iran and the Middle East to the south. Though the region nexus of various economic, political, and energy interests though gaining huge attention from big powers in international politics. The paper explains, the key factors for China to strengthen the ties with South Caucasus region countries, analyses the role of the region with its challenges and opportunities in OBOR initiative and also the competitive landscape for its geopolitics regarding to leading powers in the world: US, China and Russia. The development of national identity and the statehood in those countries has been difficult, because they have been arrested of Soviet Domination for nearly two decades. The region has made considerable progress in economic and political systems, though those independent states have become important factors in geopolitics and policies of key international and regional players. As the transformational hub between Asia and Europe the region plays big role, especially for the today’s fast growing economic country like China to reach new market of Europe. Eventhough China does not share the direct border with the South Caucasus, it is interested by the region and plans to extend the ties with regional countries. The research will analyses the Chinese perspective for opening up Eurasia by land in terms to make it function One Belt One Road initiative.

Introduction
It has been difficult for Caucasian countries get direction of evolution and trajectory without influential factors. The principal reason of choosing the region is the strategic geographical location in political map and the natural resources, that unities local and external players in one big game. In this ‘homogenous’ region with its rich natural resources made ‘new game’ for local and external players. The location of Black sea as the connection of two continents with its natural resources and the Caspian Sea with Its rich hydrocarbon resources made region attractive for the rest of the world. Theories of Geopolitics to analyse international relation or the politics through geographical content, gives the answer weather the geographical conditions influence the observed outcome. And through the historical evidences one can argue the foreign interest of this region because of its strategic location. The combinations of analyses of geographical and non- geographical factor that influences the relation of the countries demonstrates the impact of location to the relations of not only neighbour countries but other external powers. Discussing and analysing the theory by Spykman, argues the geographical conditions creates a set of opportunities and constraints, a structure that is independent of agency. It can modify the foreign policy of the country or the region. The physical reality of the state and the location deceives the relation to other countries and the development of the country. As Spykman argues: ‘ ministers come and go, even dictators die, but mountain ranges stand unperturbed’. The theory of Rimland by Spykman does not only answers the question the importance of the location of South Caucasus region for the China, but also into the opposite way. One can see the importance the role of politics in the geography and influence of geopolitics in different geographic attributes such as political borders. Another theory by Nichols Spyman countered argues about the importance of Rimland. He suggested that the rimland was the key to global hegemony for location reasons. Whoever would control the rimland, would eventually control the World Island and whoever would control the World Island, would soon control the world. The coastal areas as a key role to control the World Island, that gives the perfect example from the Chinese side as well as in South Causasian region. The region is located between the two big resources – the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, also as a transparent hub for Europe and Asia.
The region became economically and politically important to the world in the twenty-first century. After the stability of the Cold War, geopolitical problems are threatening again this region. Throughout the history, the fate of this region has resided much more on the balance of outside powers than on intentional politics. In he example of the region with the compact of countries with small but open economies, interests the countries like Turkey, Iran, Russia and People’s Republic of China. Since the collapse of Soviet Union, it has gone twenty- seven years and countries has faced new challenges of building new economic or political system. The impact of regional players in this region from Turkey and Middle East is influential. Afterall the independent states had to create frameworks for interacting new neighbours and other international actors. The development of national identity and the statehood in those countries has been difficult, though the progress of the countries after the independence is huge. Every example proves the attempt of powers to recreate common landscape in the region and most of time it was the influence driven for the countries with strategic geopolitical location, which creates bigger economic market in the world. All of the three independent states which creates the region, tracks different lines of economic and political development with its distinctively different policy goals though they have unified factor, regarding to China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative. The effect of regional integration of those independent states can be the next step of their economic development strategy. As the transformational hub between Asia and Europe the region plays big role, as well as for China. The key factors for China to strengthen the ties with South Caucasus region countries, analyses the role of the region with its challenges and opportunities in OBOR initiative and also the competitive landscape for its geopolitics regarding to leading powers in the world: US, China and Russia. The global integration is the process that different states and powers have tried through history, such as Russia with creation Soviet Union, or US expansion through the EU and NATO. Impact of policies of regional and international actors are huge that creates the present view of each states and also creates the future of region. The research is oriented to focus on the PRC’s potential and challenges in the South Caucasus region in terms of analysing the geopolitical factor as a shortcut for China to access to Europe. According to Poghosyan: ‘OBOR initiative may create additional possibilities for the South Caucasus states to diversify their economic dependencies and include additional foreign investments to boost local economies. As for China, the transit routes passing through the region will establish additional possibilities to increase its economic influence both in the Post–Soviet space and the Middle East and diversify its trade routes towards Europe’ .

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