Why the West is Responsible for China’s OBOR Project
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and initiation of Chinese economic reforms in 1979, two approaches have characterised western, particularly the US’, strategy towards Russia and China.
Some attempts were made in the early 1990s to build a closer relationship with Russia, particularly when it was under Boris Yeltsin. In 1997, Russia joined the G7. Earlier, in 1994, it had joined the Nato’s Partnership for Peace programme. Russia, however, was seen as a vanquished power in the context of the Cold War. Beginning in 1999, Nato was expanded to the east to include several former Warsaw pact and Soviet space countries, despite Russia’s objections.
This Nato-enabled expansion of the European Union further contributed to Russia being pushed back from its earlier areas of influence. The differences over Russia’s perception of its own role and areas of influence, and the European/US acceptance, led inter alia to crises in Georgia (over Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008), and more recently in Ukraine/Crimea. Russia’s membership of G8 was suspended in 2014.
In contrast to the attempt to push back Russia, the western approach has been to facilitate and accommodate the rise of China. In 1971, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger effected an opening to China as a check on the Soviet Union in the global balance of power. Since 1979, western corporate interests aggressively pursued economic interests and profits. The strategy projected was to “integrate China in the international mainstream” and within the framework, rules and norms of the “liberal international economic order” pursued, without any countervailing influence, since 1991.