Francesco Sisci: China’s long-term plans shouldn’t be confused with short-term meddling

China works with long terms plans, its way of thinking and its political organization is all geared for long term — and of course they do not have elections every two or four years to press politicians into daily routines.
Therefore their new silk road is a long term plan, for the next few decades, therefore to think on China immediate meddling or intervention in the political workings of countries in the silk road can be highly confusing.
China now wants to make some progress on the development of the Silk Road and it can do it with Russia and Pakistan, the safest bets. Pakistan needs ports and roads, China can build them. Russia now begrudgingly has agreed on a fast railway to Berlin through Moscow. The Chinese will pay for it and use their technology. Infrastructure will be added in former Soviet Central Asia with the incentive of the low-hanging fruit of jobs and development for everybody. This money and development will come with few strings attached: no demands for democracy, or politically-correct anti-corruption measures — only open anti Chinese Islamic terrorism will be shunned.
Can all of these attract the common people of Iran? In fact, according to Spengler’s researches the more the Ayatollah stay in power in Tehran, the more Iranians become alienated from their religious mantra. Then perhaps a few more years of power of the Ayatollahs could make sure that Iran will be the most a-religious country in the world. Just as 30 years of Maoist communism made China now the most capitalistic country.
Also: these workings need peace and stability in the region. De facto an anchor of peace and stability in the region for China in these years has been Israel. That creates a room for greater political collaboration there.
Then one can imagine that in 5 or 10 years the Silk Road that now seems so impossible and difficult could in fact be different. In the process the Chinese will be working with continuity.
Here the Americans would have a lot to offer. They made many mistakes in Central Asia and the middle east but they have been there and know a lot. The Chinese know very little. If the US and China can find a way to collaborate in the Silk road this could provide a real long term project bringing the two countries together. Here Israel can be the accelerator of these new ties, having an interest in keeping the US and China involved for double security.

In theory, old imperial countries like Turkey or Iran may have the same geopolitical interest once they shed religious fanaticism.

Of course this thinking, thought involuted, is rational, whereas in the Middle East there are many irrational forces in play. But a healthier rational framework, a long term prospect (no nervous rush for tomorrow’s headlines could be necessary elements for success in the Middle East — with the extra bonus of bringing China closer to Israel and the US. And the flip side? The Chinese fail, and things can’t get any worse than what they are.



Categories: Chatham House Rules, Francesco Sisci

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