Concepts, themes, institutions and events connected to the BRI

A - H

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank​ (AIIB)


Proposed by China, the AIIB is a multilateral development bank that has the stated purpose of supporting infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region. It has 78 members with its HQ in Beijing. It was proposed by China in 2013 and is touted as a potential rival to the World Bank. The USA heavily criticised the UK when it became the third Western state to join the AIIB, after the US tried to pressure South Korea and Australia to not join in 2015. 

Opinions differ on whether the AIIB is China attempting to help shape the world order or whether it is a plan to replace the current one. It has been noted that its creation does not necessarily mean rivalry as economic cooperation is possible. Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping argued that the AIIB would encourage "economic connectivity and a new type of industrialization [in the Asia Pacific area], and [thus] promote the common development of all countries as well as the peoples' joint enjoyment of development fruits". 


Asia-Pacific (AKA Indo-Pacific) 


There is no clear cut definition of this region, though it is generally taken to include East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania. 

Map showing Asia-Pacific in the world. Dark green indicates core Asia-Pacific countries; light green indicates regions that may be included.


Baren Township Incident

A 1990 uprising by Uyghurs in a region of Xinjiang that was crushed by Chinese police and military. Initial causes of the armed insurrection are unclear, as are whether outside actors played a part. China officially stated that 7900 people were arrested in the aftermath for ‘separatist’ and other criminal offences.


Eurasian Development Bank

A regional development bank started by Russia and Kazakhstan in 2006. It has since added members Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Tajikistan. Russian easily holds the majority share with Kazakhstan second. The other states have nominal holdings. The stated aim of the bank is to increase facilitation and development of market economies and increase mutual trade through investment. The bank has been internationally legitimised, including being recognised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) amongst others.


Eurasian Land Bridge
Russian: Евразийский сухопутный мост / Yevraziyskiy sukhoputniy most

A rail transport system that is used to connect Pacific seaports in Far Eastern Russia and China to ports in Europe, mostly through the Trans-Siberian Express. One interesting aspect is that the train gauges are different sizes in Russia (1,520 mm) from China (1,435 mm), so at the border, trains have to be re-calibrated to work on the two systems. Kazakhstan, as a former member of the Soviet Bloc, uses the Russian gauge.


The Grand Chessboard

Harvard University (and Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor) Zbibniew Brzezinski’s geostrategy that regards the landmass of Euroasia as the centre of global power.

When formulating US strategy, he stated that it is imperative that no challenger should emerge that’s capable of dominating Eurasia, as this would challenge the USA’s position as the global superpower. Using the ‘Heartland Theory’, Brzezinski focuses on the exercise of power in the Eurasian landmass in a post-Soviet era. The Grand Chessboard clearly has a rising power wanting to play.



Heartland Theory (also known as The Geographical Pivot of History or The Pivot of History)

Halford John Mackinder’s 1904 work that first expanded geopolitical analysis to include, for the first time, the entire globe. Mackinder divided the world’s Earth surface into three parts:
– the World Island – Europe, Asia, and Africa
– The offshore islands – the British Isles and Japan
– the outlying – North and South America and Australia

The theory considers the ‘heartland’ – Eastern Europe and parts of Central Asia to be the vital centre of the world. At the time it was ruled by the Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union. It argues that whoever controls this pivot region could have access to 50% of the world’s resources.



The Hundred-Year Marathon

US Hawk idea of Chinese attempts to replace the USA as a unipolar global superpower, as written by Michael Pillsbury.