EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Chinese Eurasianism, which – if the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is successful – will give Beijing new foreign policy tools to use against Washington, could prove more threatening to the US in the long run than the USSR was during the Cold War.
Many powers throughout history have tried to bring large parts of the Eurasian landmass into their folds. The Achaemenid Empire in antiquity, the Mongols and Tamerlane in the Middle Ages, and many others worked prodigiously to create a unified Eurasian space. After their military successes, though, the invaders could not offer any clear economic or cultural benefit to the various Eurasian peoples. The result was more or less rapid disintegration of their conquests.
The Russians of the 16th century, on the other hand, embarked on a project wherein they gradually built an empire with a clear philosophical vision of its role in world history. A strong Russian military was backed up by relatively attractive economic incentives for the peoples of Central Asia, the Caucasus, and parts of Eastern Europe.