By Casey Michel
THE DIPLOMAT - February 13, 2016
Ever since the Eurasian recession began in earnest — or, predating that, when it was clear that Russia’s economic engine would stall under Vladimir Putin’s third term — there has nonetheless been a source of hope for Central Asia’s economies: China. On the backs of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) platform, Beijing has stepped in to provide Central Asian economies with the necessary trade, transport, and internal investment to offset a reeling Russia and sinking hydrocarbon prices. For the past few years, China has stood as the region’s economic trump card — a rising Chinese tide would, as the regional governments assumed, raise their fortunes as well.
Despite China’s recent economic troubles, there was little outward sign that this prognostication would change anytime soon. The OBOR’s schematics proceeded as planned, and the recent rail transit from China to Iran further illustrated the potential integration Beijing can provide.