This article evaluates the present and considers the future of the intermediary role of Central Asia in overland trade routes from China to Europe. Focusing primarily on technical and pragmatic issues, it discusses the advantages and costs of potential freight modes and trade routes from China to Europe, finding that rail freight already operates successfully and at high efficiency via Central Asia, albeit at a small scale. Central Asian countries play a successful economic role in the overland trade, but could further benefit if they took part in, rather than just facilitated, China-Europe trade. China and Europe benefit from faster and cheaper trade with each other, and would further benefit from the inclusion of nations in between for either their import demand or their potential development as low-cost manufacturers. On the other hand, Russia’s policy regarding overland trade is driven by the opportunity of continued re-integration with Central Asian nations in the name of facilitated trade. The first section discusses the advantages and costs of potential freight modes and trade routes from China to Europe. The second section describes the Central Asian route’s emergence and the current state of its freight operations. The third section considers the long-term outlook of the route and the challenges of high-speed upgrades mooted by China. The fourth section analyzes Central Asian economies’ current roles in the trade occurring between China and Europe on the Central Asian trade route, as well as potential opportunities for their further engagement with China-Europe trade, while the last section discusses risks for the route’s future importance and growth. Finally, the report concludes by considering the relevant state actors’ potential future policies regarding overland trade between China and Europe.
How to Cite:
Debreczeni, G., 2016. The New Eurasian Land Bridge: Opportunities for China, Europe, and Central Asia. The Public Sphere: Journal of Public Policy, 4(1), pp.39–54.