Mackinder in Beijing

A long, but insightful look at the planetary strategic environment puts recent developments in theoretical context:

After decades of quiet preparation, Beijing has recently begun revealing its grand strategy for global power, move by careful move. Its two-step plan is designed to build a transcontinental infrastructure for the economic integration of the world island from within, while mobilizing military forces to surgically slice through Washington’s encircling containment.

The initial step has involved a breathtaking project to put in place an infrastructure for the continent’s economic integration. By laying down an elaborate and enormously expensive network of high-speed, high-volume railroads as well as oil and natural gas pipelines across the vast breadth of Eurasia, China may realize Mackinder’s vision in a new way. For the first time in history, the rapid transcontinental movement of critical cargo — oil, minerals, and manufactured goods — will be possible on a massive scale, thereby potentially unifying that vast landmass into a single economic zone stretching 6,500 miles from Shanghai to Madrid. In this way, the leadership in Beijing hopes to shift the locus of geopolitical power away from the maritime periphery and deep into the continent’s heartland.

As a trivial point of perspective, it might be worth noting that this blog’s ferocious Atlanteanism completely overwhelms its Sinophilia in regard to this question. If the emergence of a diasporic-maritime China, attuned to its Pacific Rim ethnic offshoots, is to be forestalled by a revival of dreams of dominion on the world island, the 21st century is about to take a peculiarly unfortunate turn.

June 10, 2015admin 17 Comments »


17 Responses to this entry

  • Frog Do Says:

    “Mackinder was a bit premature in his prediction. The Russian revolution of 1917, the Chinese revolution of 1949, and the subsequent 40 years of the Cold War slowed any real development for decades. In this way, the Euro-Asian “heartland” was denied economic growth and integration, thanks in part to artificial ideological barriers — the Iron Curtain and then the Sino-Soviet split — that stalled any infrastructure construction across the vast Eurasian land mass. No longer.”

    This would surely have been the greatest political triumph of the twentieth century, if communism is as American as apple pie.

    If China links the Great Western Island together with a bunch of railroads, how does this affect migration of Africans, Central Asians, and Indians; especially considering past patterns of Chinese investment in these areas? The step towards geopolitics is a step in the right direction, but you could get trapped in the Guns, Germs, and Steel attractor and miss interesting racial analyses. Will this resource explosion cause a Chinese population boom, or introduce various migrant races to new areas? Is the Great Western Island setting itself up for another wildfire of a plague?

    As an afterthought, I do think the panic of Chinese territorial domination is rooted more in projections of the American viewpoint. How much of this is sovereignty insurance and how much is expansionism.


    Posted on June 10th, 2015 at 12:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    “If the emergence of a diasporic-maritime China, attuned to its Pacific Rim ethnic offshoots, is to be forestalled by a revival of dreams of dominion on the world island, the 21st century is about to take a peculiarly unfortunate turn.”

    I wish I could just hop into my time machine, fast-forward at decade increments, just to see how things shake out. Life is too damn short.


    Posted on June 10th, 2015 at 12:58 pm Reply | Quote
  • Chris B Says:

    Go long Muslim disruption in central Asia. As and aside, your outlook and position in regards to reaction is more attuned to Szabo than MM.


    Contemplationist Reply:

    It’s interesting in this context that Muslim disruption is, at its heart, funded and supported by the West (mostly) and China (slightly, as in Pakistan). As the Chinese Big Brother has turned his eyebrow upwards a bit looking across the Central Asian corridor down through Afghanistan, the Pakistanis have quietly begun diverting their jihadi proxies (i.e. the Taliban) away from where the Chinese investment would pass through, and begun using them to pacify the secular, ethnic separatist Baloch tribal militias.


    Posted on June 10th, 2015 at 1:07 pm Reply | Quote
  • Mackinder in Beijing | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on June 10th, 2015 at 1:38 pm Reply | Quote
  • Duke of Qin Says:

    I’m sorry, but the Western idea of a geostrategic Eurasian heartland projected onto the Chinese Communists is a laughable joke. This is ascribing strategic foresight and ambition to a sclerotic moribund party apparatus filled with cowardly, incompetent, venal, time-fillers that it just doesn’t possess. Even worse, if they actually possessed such ambition or intent, it only proves their gross delusions.

    The so-called Eurasian Heartland, is a useless waste of space filled with all kinds of violent, predatory, primitive, and now islamic turk who will never amount to anything. The population and economic centers of Eurasia have for more than two thousand years been at their latitudinal poles. Central Asia aside from natural resources will not be a font of anything but the export of strutting Churkas in the hearts of China’s cities. Nothing good has ever come from the Steppe and the shitty useless communists forget that at China’s peril.

    All the recent American agitprop regarding Chinese “aggression” is nothing but the empire proclaiming it’s bonafides. As Lord Thomas Sanderson said of the Germans, “It has sometimes seemed to me, that to a foreigner reading our press the British Empire must appear in the light of some huge giant sprawling over the globe, with gouty fingers and toes stretching in every direction, which cannot be approached without eliciting a scream.”


    blahblahblah Reply:

    Fully backing the Duke here. Mackinder idea is nonsense, and the only reason why such might (and it does) have some pull in the real world is because people can believe and act on bullshit.
    Geography is incidental to demographics. The game must be played in Eurasia because Europe is on one side of it, China at the other, and Russia in between. If the Chinese were to suddenly find themselves in South Africa and the Japanese in Madagascar, and the wonderful rainbow people took their place on the banks of the Yellow River, we would be talking about the importance of the great African Island now instead.


    blahblahblah Reply:

    uh, sorry, meant to write “Mackinder’s idea is nonsense, the only reason why such a theory might…”


    Posted on June 10th, 2015 at 1:53 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    If China is smart it will build those railroads, then sell them to the locals. Expand economically and politically stay inside its mountain ranges.

    I doubt China can do expansionism properly. Likely to turn out only slightly better than Alexander’s attempt.


    Posted on June 10th, 2015 at 2:19 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Imperialism was but a pork project with a very good PR machine behind it.

    Chinese foreign investment is the same, but with bad PR. This is just a way to funnel money to construction companies.


    Duke of Qin Reply:

    Precisely, most of China’s so called “foreign” investment in the third world is just a roundabout way to transfer public assets to insiders abroad.

    If the Politburo were actually serious about actually challenging American hegemony rather than playing their stupid internal status games, it would be practicing military Keynesianism instead of throwing away their money on empty concrete shells or African boondoggles. But the military-industrial complex is much politically weaker in China than the real-estate complex so excess liquidity goes to inflate asset bubbles in China and elsewhere instead of building a fleet the Kaiser would have envied.

    The Communist regime as it exists today is simply incapable of challenging American hegemony because as I said, it is led by risk adverse geriatric weaklings who are more interested in their mistresses and foreign real estate than securing China’s prosperity. Anyone who doubts me only needs to see the utter failure China’s Burma policy has been.


    peter connor Reply:

    I disagree. American hegemony is collapsing at an accelerating rate as the economy, the military, and the rate of technical innovation decline. China need only build slowly and await it’s time to take over–I will guess in the 2030s….


    Alrenous Reply:

    A pork project with the risk of making enemies out of natural allies.


    Posted on June 10th, 2015 at 5:41 pm Reply | Quote
  • Orthodox Says:

    TIck tock tick tock, tick tock tick tock.

    That’s the countdown clock to the next Sino-Russo split.


    peter connor Reply:

    I think our idiot government can continue to force them together, out of fear of our country wrecking habits…


    Posted on June 11th, 2015 at 12:25 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    In other news, you might not be interested in Chinese hegemony, but Chinese hegemony is interested in you


    Posted on June 11th, 2015 at 2:51 pm Reply | Quote
  • mico Says:

    Rail shipment is a lot less efficient than ocean shipment. The primary purpose is to keep a backup option open in case the US shuts down Chinese trade, which currently China would not be able to do much to stop.


    Posted on June 14th, 2015 at 1:47 pm Reply | Quote

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