China's "Belt and Road" Initiative has been on the agenda of global economic and political circles for the last two years. With global trade volume expected to increase from $42 trillion to $60 trillion between 2060 and 2100, much of it will be focused in Asia and Africa, where populations will reach 4.9 billion and 4.4 billion, respectively, by the year 2100.
To meet such demands, China is looking to create a mega-trade corridor that will offer a wide range of opportunities and a number of centers on land, sea and air trade routes. This requires China to not only deepen its relations with Myanmar, India, Pakistan, Iran, Russia and Turkey but also carry out multi-faceted projects in the Gulf and in Africa.
Interestingly, however, all the countries with whom China has endeavored to build close relations for a "mega future" are now facing challenges. In 2001, China bought the former Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag from Ukraine, saying it would be turned into a "floating casino." In the ensuing months, Turkey's relations with the U.S. were strained after Turkey allowed the vessel to pass through Bosporus. Contrary to the claim, China later transformed Varyag into its first modern aircraft carrier.
Unexpectedly, two weeks ago, the news was leaked that China was preparing to sell Varyag, now renamed Liaoning, to Pakistan. On top of that, there was a large bomb attack near the Chinese Consulate in Pakistan last November.
Gordian knot of Iran-India-Pakistan
Add to this the attack and killing of many Iranian soldiers in a parade last year and the death of Indian soldiers recently in Kashmir, and the fact that both countries made statements targeting Pakistan following the attacks. And finally, it is noteworthy that Pakistan and India came to the brink of war for the fourth time, with Pakistan and India both downing each other's planes. The fact that Iran, Pakistan and India are almost on the brink of war is clearly a situation that undermines the cooperation China would like to create for its Belt and Road Initiative. Pakistan's call to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was noted once again by the international community in terms of his leadership power.
At the same time, the recent clash between Pakistan and India has the potential to considerably put off the process of shifting the center of gravity of global economic and political order from the Atlantic to the Asia-Pacific region.
It will come as no surprise to international actors that the U.S. will not object to developments that will delay the advance of Asia-Pacific in the global system. Meanwhile, if we also note that Turkey-China relations are strained due to the treatment of Uighurs, the situation becomes even more chaotic and complex. Interestingly, leading countries and Western media have been approaching the Uighur issue with the rhetoric: "Why is Turkey not reacting?" China, on the other hand, is having a hard time managing its relations with Turkey. Meanwhile, the second round of the U.S.-North Korea meetings failed to make progress. Did China also have a hand in this?
Greater chance of Brexit deadline extension
On the European front, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met at Elysée Palace recently, continued their efforts to implement the Aachen Agreement, signed a month ago.
While the discussions were on the EU summit set for March 21 and 22, the eurozone budget, the international agenda, bilateral relations and the Brexit issue, Macron stated that the France-Germany relationship is important and necessary for the advancement of Europe.
Merkel, on the other hand, mentioning that they will be strengthening their activities with France, said the two countries will take part in many common projects. Both leaders pointed out that if the U.K. could put forward reasonable conditions, they can provide additional time for a regular Brexit.