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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/29/19

The New Silk Roads reach the next level

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I have reported extensively on the crucial BRI-Greater Eurasia symbiosis. And this was exactly the focus of the discussion when Putin met Xi on the sidelines of the forum. The Chinese Foreign Ministry vigorously stressed how Xi asked Putin to merge Eurasian Economic Union's (EAEU) infrastructure projects with BRI.

What should be expected from the in-progress BRI-EAEU merger, which also includes the economic arm of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as well as ASEAN, is a massive, concerted Eurasian integration push.

Putin could not have been more specific. "The Eurasian Union...has already signed a free-trade agreement with Vietnam and a provisional agreement with Iran, paving the way to the creation of a free-trade area. The preparation of similar instruments with Singapore and Serbia is nearing completion, and talks are underway with Israel, Egypt and India. We cooperate actively with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations."

All the pieces fall into place

Addressing the forum, Putin added another enticing dimension, with the China-driven Maritime Silk Road possibly joining the Russia-driven Northern Sea Route, "a global and competitive route connecting northeastern, eastern and southeastern Asia with Europe" will emerge. Once again, Eurasia integration in practice.

And then there are the other key Eurasian hubs, Iran and Pakistan.

After Tehran and Islamabad clinched a deal for joint border patrol on both sides of Balochistan, the next logical step would be closer BRI-related integration from Southwest Asia to South Asia.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan was a key participant in the forum, explaining the expansion that will transform Gwadar from a tiny fishing village to a global port and CPEC terminal that will link the Pacific via the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean. Imran confirmed that Turkey had also been invited to be part of CPEC.

Many pieces are slowly falling into place across the immensely complex Eurasian integration chessboard. A key vector now depends on China being able to develop, refine and project soft power.

BRI, apart from its status of being the one and only 21st-century global development project, is also a global PR exercise. Compared to childish US geopolitical demonization, Beijing's game is not that hard -- just learn how to appropriately sell the ultimate geoeconomic paradigm shift to International Community 2.0.

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)
 

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