The Silk Road Economic Belt: Considering Security Implications and EU–China Cooperation Prospects

The Silk Road Economic Belt (the 'Belt') is a component of the Belt and Road Initiative, announced by Xi Jinping over four years ago, and represents an ambitious Chinese vision to promote infrastructural development and connectivity, and stimulate economic integration across the Eurasian continent. Ostensibly an economic initiative, the Belt also has important strategic implications, and is likely to interact with local security dynamics in many of the states with which China is partnering in a significant way.

The report The Silk Road Economic Belt: Considering Security Implications and EU-China Cooperation Prospects by Richard Ghiasy and Jiayi Zhou is the result of a joint project by FES and SIPRI. The authors examine the wider security dynamics related to the Belt, at a geopolitical as well as intra-state level - and present a number of cooperation avenues for the EU and China. The report is based on a one-year desk study and five regional workshops conducted over the course of 2016 and facilitated by FES and its regional partners.

Map of Central Asia illustrating Silk Road Economic Belt projects. Graphic: Christian Dietrich. Used with perMap of Central Asia illustrating Silk Road Economic Belt projects. Graphic: Christian Dietrich
Map of Central Asia illustrating Silk Road Economic Belt projects. Graphic: Christian Dietrich.

It consists of three parts. First, it describes what the Belt is, what has driven China to initiate it, and how it relates to China's security interests. It then examines security implications of and security risks to the Belt in two important regions of Central and South Asia. Finally, the report assesses how the Belt fits into EU interests, and provides recommendations for EU-China cooperation, to maximize positive spill-overs of the Belt and to mitigate common security concerns.

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