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Serbia/China: Can Brzezinski's "Great Chess Game" be considered over in China's favor? Is Serbia destined to become a client of Beijing?


The Balkans, as the intersection of the three continents Europe, Asia and Africa, have clearly highlighted their importance in geopolitics. This area is not only an important land passage into Europe, but also an important waterway, guarding the transit point for transportation into and out of Europe. For this reason historians and geopoliticians often define it as the meeting point between East and West. In a contemporary work on geopolitical theory, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the chief engineer of U.S. geopolitical strategy, stated that the Balkan states "are not only unstable, but also attract and induce invasions by their more powerful neighbors, each of which is determined to oppose domination of the region by any of the others" of the region.




China and Serbia on Wednesday agreed to follow a "shared future" as President Xi Jinping visited the Balkan country as part of his bid to forge stronger relations with allies at the edge of the European Union.


Xi is on his first European tour in five years, and the trip was seen as an effort to strengthen ties with eastern European countries that are pro-Russia and large recipients of Chinese investment.


On the evening of May 7, 2024 local time, President Xi Jinping arrived in Belgrade by special plane for a state visit to Serbia at the invitation of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. Photo Xinhua.

The list of final documents signed between the two countries can be read here.



The unique alore of the Serbian corridor in the geopolitical environment


The fulcrum of geopolitics can be identified in a key area for the development, intersection and collision of human civilization.The Balkans, as the intersection of the three continents Europe, Asia and Africa, have clearly highlighted their importance in geopolitics.


This area is not only an important land passage into Europe, but also an important waterway, guarding the transit point for transportation into and out of Europe. For this reason historians and geopoliticians often define it as the meeting point between East and West.


In the Balkans the valleys, where the Morava and Varda rivers flow, are particularly critical. This area, called by local people and scholars the "Morava-Varda Valley", opened a reliable and stable channel into the densely mountainous Balkans, making it easy to cross the entire Balkan Peninsula and penetrate deep into the hinterland of Europe.


The north-south flowing Morava River meets the east-west flowing Danube River near Belgrade, making the capital of Serbia not only a geographical transportation hub, but also a crossroads of culture and politics, a truly of diversified intersection.


For thousands of years this place has been a fundamental hub for the migration of different peoples, the spread of wars, the spread of religion, the economy and trade.


It is generally believed that the importance of this passage arises from the fact that it connects the Pannonian Plain with the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, and thus constitutes the shortest and most convenient passage from Western Asia to Europe via the Suez Canal.


Therefore the Morava-Varda Valley corridor still has an extremely important strategic position. Today it is not only an important gateway to Europe, but also carries the Pan-European Highway 10, the Russian "Turkish Stream" gas pipeline and the "Hungary-Serbia Railway", a key project of China's "One Belt, One" program. "Road" initiative. In view of the prominent position of the Pan-European Corridor 10 in modern European roads, many scholars also tend to directly refer to the area of the Morava-Varda Valley as Corridor 10.


However, considering that this area passes mainly through Serbia and that on this road the Serbian nation has experienced wars, sacrifices and invasions, perhaps it would be more appropriate to call it the "Serbian Corridor".


Whenever Serbian farmers are asked how they view the various disasters that the country has experienced, they often cite a popular saying: "Who told us to build our houses on the street?" This sentence profoundly reveals the sensitivity of Serbian geopolitics. Among the Balkan countries, Serbia's geographical position is the most critical. Its territory is like a transport hub at the crossroads of the entire Central and Eastern Europe and Eastern and Western Europe.


Specifically, countries that are friends of Serbia or have influence on Serbia actually control a number of key passages: in the north it leads to the Rhine River and the port of Hamburg, in the west it reaches the Adriatic Sea; to Greek ports and the Aegean Sea; in the east it leads to the Black Sea. At the same time, these countries can also control important plains, mining areas and mountain resources.


If you compare Europe to a chessboard, then the Balkans undoubtedly play the role of the 16 squares in the center of the chessboard, while the regional advantages and importance of Serbia are like the four centers of these 16 squares. These four squares are often the focus of the game between the two sides in the early stage of chess and are also the key to determining victory or defeat in the middle part of the game.


Can Brzezinski's "The Great Chess Game" - dividing the Eurasian continent to implement an "offshore equilibrium" - be considered over?
Will the Belt and Road Initiative connect Europe and Asia?

In a contemporary work on geopolitical theory, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the chief engineer of U.S. geopolitical strategy, stated that the Balkan states "are not only unstable, but also attract and induce invasions by their more powerful neighbors, each of which is determined to oppose domination of the region by any of the others." of the region.


Brzezinski & Carter In the Oval Office - US National Security Advisor Dr Zbigniew Brzezinski (1928 - 2017) (left) speaks with US President Jimmy Carter in the White House's Oval Office, Washington DC, January 21, 1977. The meeting took place on the President's first, full day in office. (Photo by White House via CNP/Getty Images)

It is this combination of power vacuum and attraction to external forces, to which we are no strangers, that justifies the title 'Balkans of Eurasia'." In this strategically important place, the essence of the geopolitical game is still relatively clear. In the U.S. strategy of the late 1990s, this positioning of Brzezinski on the Balkans was fully realized.Brzezinski's strategic intention, therefore, was to divide Eurasia, but in the Balkans he advocated control on a practical level.


Are Western European countries willing to give up the Balkans even without the presence of the United States?

For these European countries, the Balkans are like their own "back garden". From a practical point of view, the ambitions of Western countries in the Balkans are still very evident, which is why conflicts between Serbia and Western countries occurred frequently in past history.


Due to conflicts with Western countries, Serbia would seem more inclined to bond with Eastern and third world developing countries that have had similar experiences in terms of ideological emotions, political environment and historical encounters.Therefore, the “One Belt, One Road” initiative launched by China, as a project connecting Eurasia and even the world, has great appeal for Serbia.


At this stage, could this initiative lead Serbia to resist Western pressure (and therefore become a member of the EU), bringing it closer to Asian countries?
Will the Belt and Road Initiative therefore succeed in promoting a deeper interconnection between Europe and Asia, and will Serbia's role as a hub be fully exploited?

Beijing has no friends but client states. Is Serbia destined to become a client of China?




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