The changes taking place in the region stretching from Turkey and the Caucasus to China have been so rapid that no country in the West or elsewhere was adequately prepared to deal with the region. American and European elites had little knowledge of the histories and cultures of the region's peoples, let alone of their languages. The newly independent states of Eurasia were not treated as something in the own right, but were subsumed under other headings, usually "post-Soviet", in spite of their highly distinctive and diverse nature. Afghanistan and Xinjiang, intimate parts of Central Asia for millennia, were sliced off and treated exclusively under the rubric of South Asia, or China, respectively. Although the divisions between the former Soviet states on the one hand and Turkey, China, and Afghanistan and South Asia on the other are rapidly giving way to common problems and solutions, western governments and international organizations typically retain the geographical divisions dating back to Soviet times.
In spite of these problems, western interest in the region has gradually been rising. Energy issues have been a major contributor to this, followed by the global war on terror after September 11, 2001, which brought Central Asia and the Caucasus to the international agenda. Meanwhile, the rise of China is having significant implications both for the west and Central Eurasia as a whole.