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Fri, 26 Jan


Via Zoom (Recording is available.)

The BRI in National Peripheries: Gwadar and the Limits of Outsourced Development

Speaker: Muhammad Tayyab Safdar (University of Virginia)

The BRI in National Peripheries: Gwadar and the Limits of Outsourced Development
The BRI in National Peripheries: Gwadar and the Limits of Outsourced Development

Time & Location

26 Jan 2024, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm HKT

Via Zoom (Recording is available.)

About the Event

Watch the recording of the event HERE.


The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is an important pilot project of China's Belt & Road Initiative. Within CPEC, Gwadar in Pakistan's Balochistan province enjoys a privileged position in the development imaginaries of both Chinese and Pakistani policymakers. Even though Gwadar is central to the discourse on CPEC and development, the impact on the ground remains limited. What explains this lack of progress despite Gwadar’s privileged position within CPEC and the BRI? The paper argues that the lack of progress in Gwadar is a function of multiple variables, including the region’s history as peripheral to Pakistan’s development imaginary, persistent violence and a growth model predicated on land speculation. Furthermore, Gwadar signifies what the paper refers to as an ‘outsourced development’ model in the BRI. In this model, Chinese actors, especially State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), take on the responsibilities of the state in providing public goods and other social services. The state within the host country further abdicates its limited role in providing peripheral regions with public goods and social services. The paper argues that although these non-state transnational actors are filling the void left by a weak domestic state, they have limited space for independent action and must work through local power structures.

Speaker's Bio

Tayyab Safdar completed his MPhil and PhD in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge. His research explores the evolving dynamics of South-South Development Cooperation, with the rise of emerging powers in the developing world like China and India. His research also looks at the implications of increasing Chinese investment in developing countries that are a part of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), like Pakistan. Using evidence through in-depth fieldwork from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Tayyab is especially interested in understanding the rules and incentives that inform the interaction between Chinese stakeholders and elite actors in Pakistan. Tayyab’s research has been published in the Journal of Contemporary Asia, Journal of Development Studies, and Energy for Sustainable Development. In 2022, he gave testimony before the US-China Economic and Review Commission on China’s response to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and China’s engagement with Pakistan.

Tayyab was the inaugural BRI Post-Doctoral researcher at the Department of Politics & East Asia Center UVA. Prior to joining UVA, Tayyab was a Newton Trust Post-Doctoral researcher at the Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge.


Global China Local Cultures (GCLC), ASIAR Research Cluster, HKIHSS, HKU

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