于洪君:共建“中国-中亚-西亚经济走廊”(英文)
2020年09月14日  |  来源:清华大学战略与安全研究中心/Baku Dialogues  |  阅读量:7701

There are major differences in the history, religion, level of development, political system, and especially international relations postures among Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia. However, there are also many ties and mutual influences among the three countries that cannot be overlooked. As a result of the region’s location between the Black and Caspian Seas, the South Caucasus has broad links with Central Asia, Western Asia, and even the Mediterranean, and complicated relations with Russia, which makes it very geopolitically important and sensitive.


Fully utilizing the opportunity on offer is not only in the present interest of the South Caucasus countries, but will also, in the long term, promote peace and stability in the region.


The South Caucasus currently has a total of around 14 million people; thus, the scale of the regional market there is not very large. All three countries have, since regaining independence, experienced various degrees of civil strife and warfare, leading to a significant issue of lagging economic development. They all need to renovate aging infrastructure, modernize public services, and improve welfare systems. This provides a rare historical opportunity for China to combine existing cooperation with the three states into the wider framework of creating the China–Central Asia–West Asia Economic Corridor. Fully utilizing the opportunity on offer is not only in the present interest of the South Caucasus countries, but will also, in the long term, promote peace and stability in the region. An examination of the ties linking each of the three countries to China in general and BRI in particular is thus warranted and will be presented below.


Azerbaijan


Within the South Caucasus, Azerbaijan is the most populous, and generally the strongest country: it has significant economic vitality and is an important member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. As President Heydar Aliyev of Azerbaijan had conceptually proposed a restoration of the historic Great Silk Road as early as September 1998, China’s concrete proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 has been warmly welcomed by Azerbaijan. Its status as a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which actively promotes BRI, is clear evidence for this.


In December 2015, when President Ilham Aliyev traveled to China on a state visit, the leaders of the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Promotion of the Silk Road Economic Belt. Since then, he has made numerous constructive comments on increasing Sino‑Azerbaijani cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.


In August 2016, during a meeting with the new Chinese ambassador to Baku, Azerbaijan’s president reaffirmed the great importance his country places on relations with China, indicating his desire to actively promote comprehensive cooperation between the two countries under the Belt and Road Initiative framework. In January 2019, Aliyev agreed to an interview with Chinese media while at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He again emphasized that BRI is very important for Azerbaijan, that his country fully supports this Chinese initiative, and that it will do everything it can to become an active participant in BRI. In April of the same year, he actively participated in the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing, and held high level talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. China and Azerbaijan signed more than ten important documents, on top of many signed previously.

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