EFSAS calls upon Research Associate of Clingendael Institute and discusses CPEC
Dr. Mohammadbagher Forough, professor at the University of Leiden and Research Associate at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations-Clingendael, met with a delegation of EFSAS and discussed the geopolitical and geo-economic implications of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of the wider China's Belt & Road (B&R) initiative. In his research, Dr. Forough specifically investigates implications of B&R, with a focus on connectivity, infrastructure, and energy security of the Middle East and Asia. Potential benefits and other effects of the CPEC were thoroughly deliberated upon, particularly regarding infrastructure projects, human rights, economic development, and energy security both in China and Pakistan, as well as with regard to the disputed territory of Gilgit Baltistan. Dr. Forough argued that China's approach to security is 'security through development' which aims to safeguard various Human Rights including the right to education, health care and food security.
Dr. Forough argued that the project could indeed bring certain economic benefits to the region, nevertheless he asserted that the benefits must outweigh the costs and that it is of utmost importance that those profits reach marginalised areas and population groups. The environmental implications resulting from the building of the CPEC were further assessed while Dr. Forough emphasised the necessity for any economic projects (such as B&R) of abiding by the principles of environmental sustainability. During the meeting, both EFSAS and Dr. Forough emphasized how the flagship project of China’s ambitious Belt and Road initiative should take place with the consultation of local populations in Pakistan and elsewhere along the B&R.
Ms. Yoana Barakova with Dr. Mohammadbagher Forough at the University of Leiden
Mr. Dušan Vejinović (Senior Research Analyst EFSAS) and Ms. Yoana Barakova (Research Analyst EFSAS) argued that not only is the CPEC being built in the midst of inter-ethnic conflicts, but it is also in breach of international law, since it goes through the disputed territory of Gilgit Baltistan, which legally is part of Jammu & Kashmir.
Dr. Forough disagreed with EFSAS' legal perspective, arguing that the legal approach will keep the conflict frozen indefinitely. Pragmatically and geo-economically speaking, he argued, without such Chinese investments no one else would be willing to invest in such disputed regions and the local populations would remain deprived and impoverished indefinitely in the absence of economic investments and development.
Dr. Forough and the delegation of EFSAS discussed the possibility of holding a seminar or conference at the University of Leiden in order to continue the conversation, further elaborate on the different viewpoints, shed light on these underreported issues and raise understanding among students, scholars and the general public regarding BRI and CPEC.