The Geopolitics of the New Silk Road:
Western Asia’s Reaction to China

In recent years, Beijing has signaled a new interest in the states of its western periphery by announcing plans for a “Silk Road Economic Belt,” “Maritime Silk Road,” and a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, all of which are now part of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiatives. China’s westward interests start with the vast energy resources of Central Asia and the Middle East, but other security and economic concerns are leading Beijing to focus greater attention westward, from Kazakhstan to Sri Lanka, Pakistan to Saudi Arabia.

What are the likely consequences of China’s expanded commercial, diplomatic, and strategic activity? Will China exacerbate or soothe tensions between India and Pakistan, or between Iran and Saudi Arabia? Will Afghanistan benefit from Chinese investment and enhanced diplomatic attention? Will Russia’s influence in Central Asia be displaced by China’s wealth and unquenchable thirst for energy?

For the United States, the answers to these and other questions will determine whether China’s westward march presents a geostrategic threat, a new opportunity for greater cooperation, or merely a distraction from other pressing global concerns.

These topics are at the center of a roundtable series at Johns Hopkins SAIS. This research and travel will culminate in a book to be published by Oxford University Press.

The Future of U.S.-Pakistan Relations

Pakistan’s internal troubles already threaten U.S. security and international peace, and Pakistan’s rapidly growing population, nuclear arsenal, and relationships with China and India will continue to force it onto the United States’ geostrategic map in new and important ways over the coming decades.

To address these issues, occasional roundtable discussions are convened at Johns Hopkins SAIS with U.S. government officials, academics, and private sector analysts.