Eurasia and the geography of connectivity
The rise of Eurasia is spectacular in terms of world trade. While the United States is the most important trading partner for 52 countries, China is now the number one trading partner for 124 countries.
Eurasia and the geography of connectivity
Ancient Knowledge in a Modern World

Eurasia and the geography of connectivity

Photo: MIT Future Lab 2019
Norbert Csizmadia 31/05/2024 13:42

The rise of Eurasia is spectacular in terms of world trade. While the United States is the most important trading partner for 52 countries, China is now the number one trading partner for 124 countries. The US and Europe trade more than a trillion dollars a year across the Atlantic. However, trade between Europe and Asia already exceeded 1 trillion dollars before 2020 and has grown to 1.6 trillion dollars in recent years. And the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is expected to further expand trade links between Europe and Asia.

The main objective of the BRI initiative is to restore and rebuild Eurasia's former economic, political and cultural role. In fact, the long-term programme is a complex network of mutually beneficial win-win relationships that can be expanded in time and space. It represents about 40 percent of world GDP and 70 percent of the world's population. The routes are not new, but have been in operation and interconnected for thousands of years. An interconnected network of maritime routes and land-based economic corridors. The "New Eurasian Land Bridge" economic corridor alone connects 108 cities. Since the plan was announced, hundreds of projects have been completed. Forty-one pipelines, 203 bridges and motorway developments, a series of new railways and, in early 2019, twelve new port developments in Europe alone. More than 1.1 trillion tonnes of goods exchange hands between the European Union and China as a result of rail freight.

The term connectography was coined by Parag Khanna in his 2016 book Connectography: Mapping of the Future Civilizaton. Since the turn of the millennium, geo-economic systems have been organised into new types of geographic networks, which operate according to new methodological principles. Connectivity has become a new paradigm of the world, and maps of the classical political boundaries can be extended to include the symbols of the global network society: transmission lines, highways, rail networks, Internet cables, airplane routes. Geopolitical competition is complemented and transformed by struggles over the interconnectivity of supply systems.

Competitive connectivity is the most important geopolitical factor of the 21st century. As our world becomes more complex, we need to be aware of the value of connectivity, regionalism and other forces that shape the world far more than traditional geopolitical theories based only on territory, size and military power. Every region matters because it is part of the network. Those who use the strategy of connectivity can gain a competitive advantage. Eurasia's connectivity has been the most important route at many times in world history. The regions, countries and cities that have been at the hubs of these trade networks have risen and prospered because they have taken advantage of the competitive advantage of connectivity.

Geography is becoming increasingly important and we need new maps to understand the connections. Networks are being damaged in the process of bloc-formation with economic sanctions. If one part of the network is cut off, it is strengthened through another network and route. And the main question of networks is where nodes are located on them. This is why it is important that new nodes become more important through interconnectivity: this is a huge opportunity for Hungary as an important gateway and bridge centre for the new interconnected Eurasian region.

The author is a geographer and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Pallas Athene Domus Meriti Foundation and the John von Neumann University Foundation

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