Energy Competition in Central Asia in the Context of Neomercantalist Policies: The United States, Russia and China

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Russia, China, and the United States are vying for political influence and control of natural resources in Central Asia in what has been labeled a twenty-first-century Great Game.1 Among the conditions drawing these major powers to the region are its location at the heart of the Eurasian landmass and its bountiful natural resources. China and Russia are driven in roughly equal measure by political and economic considerations. They have adopted neomercantilist policies (i.e., state-directed efforts aimed at making asymmetric economic gains at the expense of competitors, a concept I discuss at length below) to realize their goals in the region. The neomercantilist energy policies of China and Russia contribute to what is largely a competitive relationship among all three great powers in Central Asia. While neomercantilist policies do not negate the possibility of cooperation and the development of norms, rules, and institutions designed to promote collective action, they certainly erect formidable barriers.

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