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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr David Kerr

Kerr, David. (2012). "China and Inner Asia: New Frontiers and New Challenges". International Affairs Forum (Summer 2012.): 21-28.

Author(s) from Durham


Inner Asia is an ambiguous region in the sense that sometimes it is there and sometimes it is not. 40 years ago Inner Asia had largely disappeared from view, obliterated not by one Cold War but three: the Cold War between the USSR and the West and the West’s clients in Central Eurasia - Turkey and Iran; the Cold War between the USSR and the PRC that began in the 1960s but intensified with China’s lean towards Washington after 1972; and the Cold War between China and India that began with the border war of 1962 but again intensified in the 1970s with Mrs Gandhi’s lean towards Moscow and the dismemberment of Pakistan. At that time Inner Asia had nominally four states - the USSR, PRC, Mongolia and Afghanistan - but since the latter two had very significant Soviet military and intelligence presence in practice the region had two states and two proxies. At this time, therefore, Inner Asia was divided, isolated and militarized. This division, isolation and militarization was particularly notable for China. China’s boundary in Inner Asia from the USSR, PRC, DPRK border in the Northeast round in an arc of some 16,800 kilometers to the India, Burma, PRC border in the Southwest was closed except for a single point of access to the interior of Asia over the Karakoram Range into Pakistan. So one principal effect of the multiple Cold Wars in Asia was to isolate China from interior Asia and to force its Inner Asian provinces into the role of Cold War frontiers. This Cold War Inner Asia has now been fully dismantled and the region has re-emerged in new configurations driven by internal, social changes and external, geopolitical changes.


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