On 12 March the OSCE Academy jointly with the International Political Science Association RC 34 launched a 3-day online-workshop: “China's Belt and Road Initiative: curse or blessing for democracy in Eurasia?”, organized and moderated by Dr. Anja Mihr, DAAD Associate Professor at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and Dr. Brigitte Weiffen, Senior Lecturer at The Open University in the United Kingdom.
The Workshop was opened with a Keynote Lecture on the Future Impact of BRI in Eurasia by Richard Pomfret, Professor of Economics from the University of Adelaide in Australia.
“The Belt component of the BRI has strong economic foundations and will have a durable impact on Eurasia. COVID has also emphasized the advantage of rail transportation. While maritime shipping and air transportations were disrupted, 547,000 containers shipped between China and EU by rail in 2020. For Central Asian countries, the rail Landbridge and BRI provide a window of opportunity that allows diversifying their economies away from reliance on resource exports.”- highlighted Prof. Pomfret in his lecture.
The second day of the event was opened by a Keynote Lecture of Heike Holbig, Professor at the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in East Asia, Department of Political Sciences, University of Frankfurt, Germany. Prof. Holbig spoke on “Official visions of democracy in Xi Jinping's China”.
During the 3 days 15 Speakers presented their works on BRI and political and economic transformation; BRI’s impact on Regime Change in wider Asia, Africa, and Europe. Despite the online format, Experts had a lively discussion and debate on each topic together with about a hundred participants throughout the workshop days.
The online conference was closed by a Keynote Lecture on “Varieties of Authoritarianism in Eurasia” by Edward Schatz, Professor, University of Toronto, Canada.
The workshop brought together experts from Albania, Austria, China, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.