Descriptions of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) often center on China’s agency in other countries—its investments, loans, and even soft-power. However, Azerbaijan’s Baku International Sea Trade Port in Alat, a retroactively labeled “BRI” infrastructure project, is anything but centrally controlled by China.
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What is the reality of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, on the ground? As widespread questions emerge about the true scale and scope of President Xi Jinping’s most prominent foreign policy venture, we followed its route for 23,000km from Italy to China to evaluate its progress.
The first rail connection between Turkey and Georgia is fast approaching completion. When operational, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) line, which extends to Azerbaijan, could integrate all three countries to unlock new trade patterns and shift Eurasia’s economic center of gravity inward. The potential gains are significant, but so are the obstacles in laying the Middle Corridor of the New Silk Road.
Major infrastructure projects… can still fail economically in terms of opportunity costs either because of excessive costs or insufficient demand but their political importance can be very significant, even momentous.
The South Caucasus in a Reconnecting Eurasia examines the full scope of South Caucasus–Eurasia relations and analyzes the broad outlines of U.S. engagement over the coming years. It is part of a four-part CSIS series, “The South Caucasus in a Reconnecting Eurasia,” which includes studies focusing on Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the South Caucasus.