Power Shift to Asia & the Future of Georgia

Op-ed By Emil Avdaliani

Though European powers waged two devastating world wars and defeated each other, seeing geopolitical power transferred to Washington and Moscow, still the Soviet Union and the US were prolongations of European political and economic culture, which since the 17th century had stood victorious over the Islamic world. In other words, the power remained in European hands (as long as one considers the Soviets as Europeans too). And this is a phenomenon in itself - Western world order has lasted for almost four centuries. 

But recent developments in the world show that the above order has become fluid; there are fluctuations and it is very likely that we are in the midst of something important - nominally called a “change in the balance of power.” 

Asian powers, China among them, are rising, and this constitutes the first time in history, perhaps since the Achaemenid times, when the a purely Asian power dominates the world order.

But China now has more than any other Asian power of the past: a powerful economy and modern technologies. This makes the shift of global trade and politics to the Asia-Pacific region inevitable, with all concomitant effects, in global economy and military affairs.

And amidst these changes, the Russian government is considering its Asian Pivot. What the Russians miss outright is that, civilizationally, they, together with the US and Europe, constitute a center of geopolitical gravity. They might detest each other and have waged wars, yet they are nevertheless representatives of one group of powers.

The Chinese power is different, and it is unclear how this will impact the world order, but the challenge to the West is immense.

Countries like Georgia need to track those changes as they are prone to changing geopolitical landscapes.

It is likely that we are going to see the slow creation of alliances in the near future, where China and the US (the West) will spend resources on attracting potential allies. Georgia will be in between: culturally close to the West and financially to wealthy China. Both sides will do much to entice Tbilisi and in fact the scramble has already started. The recent statements from US Officials regarding the Anaklia Deep Sea Port indicate that Georgia is now a very active part of the China-US competition over world trade routes and vital infrastructure.

Tbilisi will face a tough choice, but it will nevertheless tilt towards the West.

Thus, it is likely that the future in the world is increasingly becoming an unstable one with a probable rise of political and military alliances. Georgia will be drawn closer to the West, but crucial to this scenario will again be Russia's position. In an unfortunate chain of events, the West, pressured by China's rise, might flatter the Russians to get Moscow on its side, making it likely that Washington and European states would relegate the influence over former Soviet states to Moscow. 

That is arguably the only scenario which could spell problems for Tbilisi.

27 June 2019 12:51