1st Edition

China and Eurasian Powers in a Multipolar World Order 2.0 Security, Diplomacy, Economy and Cyberspace

Edited By Mher Sahakyan Copyright 2023
    274 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book argues that the world order is no longer unipolar, and the war in Ukraine proves this fact. As this study describes and theorizes, it has been transformed into a Multipolar World Order 2.0 stage. This title critically examines Chinese, US, Russian, EU, Indian, and a number of other powers’ cooperation and competition over security, diplomatic, economic and cyberspace issues.

    Accomplished scholars from various regions of the Eurasian continent consider the impact of the Russo–Ukrainian war, the Sino–Russian strategic partnership, China’s relations with the United States and the European Union, the influence of the Belt and Road Initiative, the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Eurasian Economic Union, China’s policies in the Middle East, Central Asia, Indo-Asia Pacific, the South Caucasus, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as focus on details of growing contradictions and collaboration in the Eurasian continent over markets, technologies, digital leadership, vaccine distribution, and financial institutions in the Era of Multipolar World Order 2.0.

    Showing that the US-centred unipolar world order is replaced by Multipolar World Order 2.0 where conflicting powers fight to keep or extend their spheres of influence, this volume is of great interest to decision makers, diplomats, scholars and students of international relations, politics, global governance, Eurasian studies, Chinese studies, cybersecurity, and economics, and for those studying human security, international organizations, and geopolitics.

    List of figures

    List of tables

    Notes on contributors

    Foreword: Great power conflict


    Preface in Chinese



    Introduction: China, Eurasia and the Multipolar World Order 2.0


    PART I
    China, Great Powers and Eurasian Security

    1. Political and Economic Security in Multipolar Eurasia: English School Perspective

    3. Eurasia and the Pacific as the "Golden apple of discord" between the US and China: The Cases of Afghanistan, Ukraine, the Quad and the AUKUS

    5. The US and China as Main Powers in the Multipolar World Order 2.0: A Case Study in Turkey and the Middle East

    6. PART II
      Sino-Russian Strategic Partnership in Eurasia: Politics, Economy, Trade and Interregional Interaction

    7. The Strengthening of the Sino-Russian Partnership in the Era of the Multipolar World Order 2.0

    9. Russo-Chinese Trade and Economic Cooperation: Achievements and Challenges

    11. Interregional Cooperation Between China and Russia in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

    12. PART III
      Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Belt and Road Initiative’s China-Central Asia-West Asia and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridors

    13. China in Central Asia: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, New Developments and Roles in 2013-2021

    15. China’s Belt and Road Initiative and South Caucasus in the Era of the Ukrainian war and Multipolar World Order 2.0

    17. Bangladesh and Belt and Road Initiative: Strategic Rationale and Plausible Repercussions

      PART IV
      European subcontinent and China

    19. China and the European Union: More Partners than Rivals?

    21. Chinese Relations with Central and Eastern European Countries in a Multipolar World Order 2.0

      PART V
      Cybersecurity challenges, Digital Silk Road, and innovations in Eurasia

    23. China’s Digital Silk Road: Empowering Capabilities for Digital Leadership in Eurasia

    24. BRI’s Digital Silk Road and the EU: The Role of Innovation and Communication in the Italian Case Study

    26. Cybersecurity Challenges Between the EU and China and the Way Forward: Thoughts and Recommendations

      PART VI
      The Strategy of Communist Party of China: The Historical Experience and Roadmap for the Future

    28. Comprehensive Analysis of Resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century

      PART VII


    30. Colliding Interests in Ukraine, Eurasia, and Cyberspace in the Era of Multipolar World Order 2.0: Conclusion




    Mher Sahakyan is an 2022 AsiaGlobal Fellow of the Asia Global Institute of the University of Hong Kong. Mher holds a doctorate in international relations from China’s Nanjing University. He is the founder and director of the China-Eurasia Council for Political and Strategic Research, a foundation in Armenia. Mher Sahakyan also founded the annual international conference, Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia. He is an elected advisory board member of the International Institute for Peace, Austria, and the School of Liberal Arts & Humanities, Woxsen University, India. Mher is also a member of the British Association for Chinese Studies, the Asia Society of Hong Kong and the International Political Science Association. He is a lecturer at the Russian-Armenian University and Yerevan State University. He is the author of the book China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Armenia, which was published in Armenian and in Russian and was shortlisted by the International Convention of Asia Scholars in Leiden, Netherlands, for its 2021 book prize. He is also author of The New Great Power Competition in Central Asia: Opportunities and Challenges for the Gulf, a contribution published in 2021 by the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy in the United Arab Emirates. He is co-editor (with Heinz Gärtner) of China and Eurasia: Rethinking Cooperation and Contradictions in the Era of Changing World Order, published by Routledge in September 2021.

    The Current Context: Understanding China and Eurasia in the Multipolar World Order 2.0

    A conventional assumption in geopolitics today is that the post-Cold War "unipolar moment" has passed, and that what has emerged is an international system in which the United States is no longer the dominant global power. This transition has played out over three decades, marked by signal events and trends that have given impetus and credence to the narrative: the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the American misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, the global financial crisis, the degradation of the American political system and democracy (so shockingly demonstrated by the January 6, 2021, coup attempt and insurrection on Capitol Hill), heightened tensions with China and Russia, the inept handling of Covid-19, and the bungled withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

    Arguably the deterioration of American authority and influence began long before the collapse of the Soviet Union – the Watergate scandal that brought down a president in 1974 and the military retreat from Vietnam a year later being twin portents of imperial decay. Indeed, the slow-melt of American primacy has been prompted by its own actions and domestic deficiencies and dysfunctions, as well as by the drive and daring of challengers – mainly regional, such as Russia and Iran but also global, China. Consider Fareed Zakaria’s (2008) assertion that the "rise of the rest" has diminished America’s ability to "dictate to this new world", but not its ability to lead. The advent of Donald Trump and his disruptive approach to international relations, alliances, and partnerships seemed to confirm for much of the world that the United States was drifting downward, by its own devices hastening the arrival of a new world order.

    The term "multipolar" has come into vogue to describe this new condition, the implication being that the US is now only one of three or more poles or centres of power in the world. This geopolitical imagery evokes the concept of "trilateralism", an idea of three-sided global governance, still in currency as recently as the 1980s: North America, Western Europe and Japan, acting as a tribune for Asian countries – though certainly not on an equilateral basis. "Multipolarity" implies a world of regional powers, even hegemons, and a framework of balancing and/or bandwagoning – a fluid dynamic of non-alignment (not having to choose sides) and competition (among economies and clusters of economies).

    But the idea of multipolarity does not fully capture the asymmetry of a constellation of clusters around, but at varying distances to, the two principal poles: the incumbent (the United States) and the ascendant (China). It is a complex system of relationships, partnerships, and alliances no longer roughly in the bifurcated Cold War arrangement. The US-China strategic competition and decoupling narrative, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Ukraine war have fuelled the impression of a return to a take-sides power duopoly or an East-West dichotomy. But greater clarity is not likely; ultimate decoupling is not possible. Rather, uncertainty due to geopolitical, geo-economic and geotechnological contestation and shifting allegiances is the probable global steady state, however fuzzy and difficult to navigate.

    In this context, China and Eurasian Powers in the Multipolar World Order 2.0 is a significant contribution to the understanding of this complicated and still-evolving order. The use of the term "Multipolar World Order 2.0" is purposeful and critical, as the editor and authors adopt a more nuanced and textured understanding of multipolarity than conventional analysts. This predicate is an important aspect of this wide-ranging study. The context is current.

    Indeed, coming after the publication in 2021 of China and Eurasia Rethinking Cooperation and Contradictions in the Era of Changing World Order, this new collection of papers moves forward the leading edge of scholarship on China and emerging Eurasia, what Kent Clader of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies dubbed the "super continent" (2019). As with the earlier volume, the book offers on-the-ground research and perspectives on the many different dimensions of China’s role in the Eurasia project, the shaping of what might arguably be the centre of gravity of the global economy.

    This essential and comprehensive tour d’horizon of the region starts with an overview that presents the strategic and geopolitical landscape from Europe to the Indo-Pacific, an important effort to connect the dots in light of the Ukraine war, which has sparked discussions of risk and security comparisons and linkages between the transatlantic theatre and the East Asia. Consider the landmark participation of the Japanese prime minister and the South Korean president in the NATO summit in Madrid in June 2022, the parallel (but unconnected) discussions and debates over the expansion of NATO and the evolving role of the Quad, and NATO’s (2021) geographic stretch in June 2021 to characterize "China's stated ambitions and assertive behaviour" as "systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to Alliance security."

    The book then drills down into the partnership between China and Russia, which its leaders, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, in February 2022 characterized as having "no limits". The reality, captured in three key chapters, is more complex than that tagline suggests. The focus then shifts to regional cooperation – first, developments in the  Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an often overlooked mixed political, economic, security collaboration of its members, observers and dialogue partners.

    There follow two insightful updates on the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s signature foreign economic policy program, focusing on the South Caucasus and on Bangladesh, a country that to some extent is torn by the classic choice between economic opportunities offered by Beijing and the logic of strategic alignment or association with regional power India. The book also includes two chapters on the DSR, one that looks at developments in Eurasia, and the other presenting a case study of Italy, which signed a memorandum of understanding with China on the BRI in 2019.

    The remaining survey chapters cover China’s relations with Central and Eastern European countries and with the EU. Beijing’s ties with the EU have become more fraught and tense, given sources of friction that led to the freezing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment and disappointment in Brussels over China’s stance on the Ukraine war. There is a separate chapter on China-EU cybersecurity challenges, a notable discussion in light of the US-EU attempts to coordinate data governance and China’s own efforts to set standards with neighbours, participants in the Digital Silk Road initiative, and partners in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, essentially the ten members of ASEAN and four other dialogue partners. The area of data governance and cybersecurity is notably an area on which the Quad members are aiming to collaborate.

    The book ends with a concluding chapter that examines the "colliding interests" in Eurasia, by Mher Sahakyan, the editor, neatly tying up the threads of analysis that run through the volume. Sahakyan, who is fortuitously based in Yerevan, Armenia, and was with Heinz Gärtner (2021) the co-editor of the earlier book, is a rare scholar in the Eurasia space who has deep experience across the region, including China, where he earned his doctorate. It takes a specialist with a transregional background and expertise built from on-the-ground knowledge to get a handle of the fast-moving developments in the region, especially in the context of major global disruptions such as the pandemic and the Ukraine war.

    Sahakyan asserts from the beginning the death of unipolarity, and he and his fellow contributors are firmly focused on setting their analysis within the parameters of the multipolar world order. Their contribution to the study of Eurasia within the global context as it is, however difficult it is to take an accurate snapshot of these volatile times, is invaluable to all scholars and analysts of China and how its continued surge in status, significance and sway is changing the world.

    Professor, Dr. Alejandro Reyes, Director, Knowledge Dissemination, Asia Global Institute, The University of Hong Kong.


    Calder, K. E., 2019. Super Continent: The logic of Eurasian integration. Redwood: Stanford University Press.

    Fareed, Z., (2008). The Post-American World. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

    NATO, 2021. Brussels Summit Communiqué, Press Release 086.

    Sahakyan, M. and Gärtner, H., eds., 2021. China and Eurasia rethinking cooperation and contradictions in the era of changing world order. Abingdon/New York: Routledge.


    One of the main results of the "III Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia" Conference in 2021 was the unification of the international team of scholars. In 2022 this team continued cooperation and prepared this book China and Eurasian Powers in a Multipolar World Order 2.0: Security, Diplomacy, Economy and Cyberspace book. The authors analyze China’s politics in the Asia-Pacific, Central Asia, South Caucasus, Middle East, and Central and Eastern Europe. They also discuss China’s relations with Russia, the United States, European Union, and other powers in the era of a Multipolar World Order 2.0. Special attention is provided to the great powers' competition in Eurasian cyberspace, which has become one of the main engines of human life. This edited volume addresses core issues and priorities of interrelations between these two essential parts (China and Eurasia) of Geopolitics, raising points of mutual interests and benefit based on comprehensive analysis of the existing situation and perspectives for the future. Thanks to initiators, and in particular to editor Dr. Mher Sahakyan, this contribution gathers top-class researchers and analysts both from policy-making centres and academic institutions. This edited volume is highly appreciated and welcomed by policy advisors and professionals from the Eurasian states as well as China.

    Professor, Dr. Armen Darbinyan, Former Prime Minister of Republic of Armenia, Rector of Russian-Armenian University, Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, and Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.