China Social Science Forum 2023 By Zahid Anwar


The China Social Sciences Forum (2023) was held on 7TH November 2023 in the beautiful building of the Chinese Academy of History. The theme of the forum was the 10th Anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Achievements and Development Prospects of Cooperation between China and Neighboring countries. It was organized by the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies, CASS, Beijing, China. In the Opening Ceremony, Dr. Fan Enshi Deputy Director and Research Fellow, Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies in his inaugural address talked about the objectives of the China Social Science Forum 2023 in the context of the 10th Anniversary of Belt and Road Initiative: Achievements and Development Prospects of Cooperation between China and Neighboring countries.

Dr. Liao Fan, Deputy Director of the International Cooperation Bureau, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in his speech discussed the achievements of the BRI in the last ten years. Prof. Victor Larin, the Vice-President of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences conferred an honorary doctorate on Prof. Xing Guangcheng, Academic Division Member, Director and Research Fellow, the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies, CASS. After the group photo and break the next session started. It was moderated by Dr Zou Zhibou, Deputy Director and Research Fellow, Institute of World Economics and Politics, CASS. In his keynote speech Prof Victor Larin, Academician and Vice-President, of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences brought to the limelight the strengthening of relations between the Russian Federation and China in the era of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Dr. Fazal-ur-Rahman, Executive Director of Understanding China Forum discussed in his keynote address the achievements of China Pakistan Economic Corridor in the last ten years. Prof. Xing Guangcheng, Academic Division Member, Director and Research Fellow, at the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies, CASS in his keynote speech discussed the historical links of BRI in the context of the legendary Silk Road. He highlighted that BRI is a platform for win-win cooperation.

The next session was moderated by Dr. Wang Lincong, Deputy Director and Research Fellow, Institute of West-Asian Studies, CASS. In the first speech of the session Dr. Tai Yitao, Former Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee and Secretary of the Discipline Inspection Committee, Shenzhen University. Director and Professor, China Center for Special Economic Zone Research, Shenzhen University. Director and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Professor, Institute of BRI and International Co-operation and Development (Shenzhen) in the Keynote speech said that Peace, openness, connectivity, inclusion and diversity, development and justice are necessary conditions for realizing economic globalization.

He further added that politics is the highest expression of economics, while war is a continuation of politics. The important thing in war is to seek political results, not just military success. No one will desire war, but there will always be people who will provoke it in various ways. “Connectivity” is the basis for the spatial realization of economic globalization and is the material carrier and system that carries the movement of elements, including information. The more convenient and complete “connectivity” and infrastructure is what mankind has been tirelessly pursuing for centuries. The opening of sea routes, the improvement of land transportation efficiency, and the breakthrough of aviation technology have all contributed greatly to the development of economic globalization. The development of financial information exchange, and fund delivery. database sharing and other virtual connectivity technologies have opened up a vast new “connectivity” space. In today’s globalized economy, cutting off any of these backbone connectivity facilities will have a domino effect on economic globalization. Therefore, cutting off any country’s access to these facilities may lead to the country’s departure from the main path of economic globalization.

Prof. Lilia Larina, Director, Department of Public Opinion Research, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences shared her survey results in her keynote speech about contemporary Russian people’s perceptions about China. Russian people have a very favourable view of China and that they consider China the most precious partner due to economic reasons. Dr. Song Zhouying, Director and researcher, Regional Sustainable Development Modelling Research Office, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Deputy Secretary-General of the Belt and Road Academic Forum on High-Quality Development highlighted that BRI is a new cooperation model and discussed the trade cooperation between China and other BRI member countries. Besides opportunities, she also threw light on the challenges and risks of BRI.

Dr Zou Zhibo, Deputy Director and Research Fellow Institutes of World Economics and Politics in his keynote speech said that despite challenges China stands with neighbouring countries to build a shared future. He discussed the impressive achievement of BRI in the last ten years and underlined that disputes should be resolved through negotiations. Dr Ye Hailin Deputy Director and Research Fellow of the Chinese Institute of International Strategy, CASS in his address discussed hard and soft connectivity and said that after ten years of development, BRI should be shifted to a multilateral project than a Chinese initiative and talked about the Commonwealth of BRI.

After lunch, the distinguished guests visited the Museum of Archaeology and then the next session started which was moderated by Dr.  Ye Hailin Deputy Director and Research Fellow of the Chinese Institute of International Strategy, CASS.  Prof. Zhang Wansheng, Director, the Department of Processing Trade and Bonded Supervision, General Administration of Customs; Vice President (presiding) and Secretary-General, China Association of Export Processing Zones; Adjunct Professor, of Shanghai Customs Institute discussed Chinese special economic zones in comparative perspective and underlined that China trade with the world in the context of world trade organization(WTO).

Prof Dr. Zahid Anwar, Chairman, Peace, Education and Development Foundation, Peshawar, Pakistan in his keynote speech focused on, “The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): A Great Leap Forward to Regional Harmonious Economic Development.” After the economic reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping, China became a global economic power and it embarked to realize its cherished dream of the revival of the legendary Silk Road in the 21st century as the BRI. The BRI reflects the international community’s demand for a global governance system that is fair, egalitarian, open and inclusive. It has become an important platform for building a global community of a shared future. CPEC is a flagship project of the BRI.

The people of China and Pakistan are transforming the challenges of CPEC into opportunities through their iron brotherhood and trusted friendship. Gwadar Deep Sea Port, Gwadar International Airport, Rashakai Special Economic Zone, CPEC Consortium of Universities beside other important CPEC projects are connecting the region for harmonious economic development. CAHE and HEC under the CPEC Consortium of Universities are strengthening cooperation in higher education between China and Pakistan. Rashakai SEZ is a flagship project under the industrial cooperation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework. Rashakai SEZ will be constructed in 3 phases: Phase : 247 acres (2021-2022); Phase : 355 acres (2023-2024); Phase : 400 acres (2025-2027).

The Gwadar Port project is the centrepiece of the China–Pakistan strategic partnership and the construction of Gwadar Port and related connecting routes with Afghanistan reduce the distance for Pakistan-Central Asia traffic by approximately 500 km. The Silk Road represents an early phenomenon of political and cultural integration due to inter-regional trade.

BRI is inspired by the ancient Silk Road. BRI is based on the win-win model of development. CPEC is the flagship project of BRI. There are 9 special economic zones under CPEC and Rashakai Special Economic Zone is one of the four prioritized special economic zones. Its successful completion will economically develop the less developed KP Province and it will also connect China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Central Asian region. Gwadar port will boost regional connectivity and all the stakeholders will benefit from this project.

The expanded KKH highlights that where there is well there is a way, despite COVID, geo-hazards and other natural and man-made difficulties the sheer commitment of the peoples of China and Pakistan made this road now operational around the year. The BRI promotes international trade and people-to-people exchanges, but also enhances understanding between countries and reduces cultural barriers, to ultimately achieve peace, harmony and prosperity. BRI & CPEC have great potential and people of the member countries consider it a form and manifestation of the joint march towards a peaceful, prosperous and shared future.

 Prof Zahid Anwar further highlighted the significance of Xinjiang for CPEC and applauded the pro-active role of Kashi University and its CPEC Center under the leadership of Prof Chen Ruihua for strengthening linkages with bordering countries especially Pakistan through different platforms including Muztagata Forum, Kashgar SEZ Forum and also thanked the Center for CPEC studies at kasha University, Xinjiang, China. for honouring him as a Senior Research Fellow.

Prof. Tang Mengsheng, Professor and Director of the Center for Pakistan Studies, Peking University discussed in detail of the achievements of CPEC in the last ten years and elaborated on the projects to be completed in the second phase of CPEC which has already been started. His comprehensive report on CPEC to a great extent helped the audience to understand the current development of CPEC projects.

Muhammad Naseem Khan Advisor to the speaker of Baluchistan Provincial Assembly and Executive Director of Grandview Institution, Pakistan in his keynote speech elaborated on the unique features of Baluchistan province, its multi-ethnic aspect and the Bostan Special Economic Zone. He highlighted the significance of track II diplomacy and the need to cover the gap between the common man, experts and policymakers.

Dr Wang Lincong, Deputy Director and Research Fellow, Institute of West-Asian Studies, CASS in his presentation said that China is the largest trading partner of the Middle Eastern Countries. China is deeply cooperating with Middle Eastern Countries in different fields including climate change, water resource management and solar power plants. China has given eleven thousand scholarships to Arab students. People-to-people interaction between China and the Middle East has increased and Confucius Institutes were established in fourteen Arab Countries. The Middle East is a volatile region and there is a need to work together with the Middle East and build a green and digital Silk Road.  BRI and GDI will surely bring a promising future.

The last session was moderated by Dr Lei Xiaofang, Deputy Head of the Human Resources Development Strategy Division, Professional Qualification Center of the Ministry of Transport. Dr Dai Xuefeng, Research Fellow, National Academy of Economic Strategy, CASS in his speech explored the cooperation under BRI in different fields including tourism, finance connectivity, policy connectivity and connectivity of languages. He highlighted the prospects of tourism in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China, plantation and road construction in Tarim Basin and investment of seven billion yuan in Xinjiang.  He said that tourism benefited local people and they have also started learning Mandarin. Being the core area of the ancient Silk Road Xinjiang in the era of BRI is destined to flourish.

Luo Lihua, Professor, Assistant to the President, of Kashi University, in her speech, highlighted the importance of Kashi University and its expansion after the advent of BRI. She discussed the plan and firm commitment of the University leadership to improve the ranking of the university through the quality of teaching, research, linkages development, and student and faculty exchanges. Dr. Katarzyna Golik, Associate Professor, Institute of Political Science, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland focused in her presentation on urbanization and ecology of Mongolian State as well as in Inner Mongolia.

Prof Dr. Chen Ruihua, Director and Research Fellow, Research, Center of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in a keynote speech said that BRI is a multi-lateral and win-win cooperation and the role of China in restructuring the global governance. China goes global by BRI and BRI increases the economic growth of the global south. He underscored that CPEC is critical for comprehensive, multi-lateral cooperation and also highlighted the significance of Xinjiang for strengthening connectivity between South and East Asia. Prof Chen explained BRI and CPEC in the context of President Xi Jinping`s vision of a shared future.

Dr Wang Yao, Associate Research Fellow, Department of Xinjiang Studies, Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies explained different corridors of BRI, the Eurasian continental bridge, oil and gas pipelines, and rail and road connectivity. He also threw light on the impact of BRI on tourism development and border areas` gate cities. The closing ceremony was moderated by Dr. Wang Yuting Head and Associate Fellow of the Research Division, Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies Borderland Studies. In the concluding remarks Prof Fan Enshi, Deputy Director and Research Fellow, Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies thanked and highlighted the contributions of the distinguished speakers of the forum from China and abroad. A large number of the young researchers of the China Academy of Social Sciences and the Institute of Borderland Studies attended the Social Science Forum 2023.

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