March 31, 2018

#27thMarch1948 -The Baloch Political Awakening

#27thMarch1948 -The Baloch Political Awakening. By .Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

   Recently Brahamdagh Bugti the leader of Baloch Republican Party through a tweet subscribed to the Pakistani version of the events of March 27th 1948, which Baloch observe as a ‘Black Day’ as Balochistan was illegally annexed to Pakistan. He said it was only Kalat and not Balochistan that was annexed and then in further tweets said that “After the annexation of #Balochistan (sic), our forefathers always tried to adjust within #Pakistan. With all forms of struggle, the entire Baloch leadership, at one time or another strived for the Baloch rights inside Pakistan.” Incidentally in the very next tweet after claiming that only Kalat was annexed he refers to ‘annexation of #Balochistan’.

   All evidence regarding the annexation belies this Pakistani claim and moreover not all ‘forefathers’ tried to adjust. Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri was told by Davies, then a Political Agent of Marri-Bugti Agency, in 1953 that ‘Why don’t you let them build roads and bring development for your wretched people” to which Nawab Sahib had said “Davies, say if Germany had conquered Britain in Second World War and someone had come and told you why don’t you allow development for your wretched people, what would your answer have been?” To this Davies had said, “Khair Bakhsh I’ll be dammed if I ever again ask you for development.” Nawab Khair Bakhsh never adjusted so it is wrong to impute that ‘our forefathers’ tried to adjust in every way.

    I wrote this piece in October 2013 and it was printed in ‘Viewpointonline’. I felt it necessary to ask ‘Balochistan Times’ to put the annexation issue in its proper perspective and also tell people how and why our forefathers struggled. Subscribing to the Pakistani version of annexation distorts Baloch history and belittles the enormous sacrifices the Baloch Nation has given moreover it damages and subverts the present Baloch Struggle.

      The political awakening in Balochistan like all other places in the sub-continent was gradual and gained momentum after WWI due to the influence of Soviet Union and anti-colonial movements. Mir Abdul Aziz Kurd initiated “Young Baloch” a clandestine political movement in 1920 and in 1929 he joined Anjuman-e-Itahad-e-Balochistan formed after Yusuf Ali Khan Magsi was jailed for his demand of constitutional reforms in an article “Faryad-e-Balochistan” in which he had criticized the British and Kalat State Prime Minister, Sir Shams Shah a Punjabi from Gujarat. The Anjuman had Balochistan independence as its aim and demanded constitutional reforms and was opposed to the British appointed PM who was eventually dismissed due to their opposition.

      Prince Mohammad Azam Jan was appointed the Khan in December 1931 with support of the Anjuman and he dismissed the PM. Though the Anjuman had helped the Khan he was not supportive of its aims. The Anjuman’s goal of independence of Balochistan expressed in unequivocal terms by its General Secretary Aziz Kurd faced a lot of criticism in the Indian press from leaders of different parties in India.

     The Khan Ahmad Yar Khan, who became the Khan after Azam Jan’s death in 1933, sent Mir Yusuf Ali Magsi as his personal representative to Britain to discuss sovereignty of Khanate but the response was disheartening. In the Great Quetta Quake of 1935 Yusuf Ali Magsi died and this brought an untimely end to his radical leadership. In February 1937 the Anjuman met in Sibi and The Kalat National Party was formally formed and it garnered a lot of support among different sections of Baloch society. The British as well the Sardars for reasons and interests of their own opposed the party on different grounds and reasons but the common ground being their privileges and authority.

    The party’s annual meeting on July 6th 1939 which was disrupted by followers of some Sardars who demanded of the Khan that the party be banned. On July 20th the Prime Minister of Kalat declared the Kalat National Party illegal within boundaries of Kalat State. It leaders Malik Abdul Rahim Khwaja Khel, Mir Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo, Abdul Karim Shorish, Mir Gul Khan Naseer and other activists were exiled. The party established its headquarters in Quetta but due to the World War II political activities were banned  but the party continued its activities underground. 

     The National party joined the India States People Congress (pro-Congress) and leaders like Mohammad Hussain Anka and Bizenjo favoured merger of Kalat with India and opposed the Khan’s demand for independent Balochistan. This shift divided the party as Aziz Kurd and others opposed the new policy and a split occurred. However in 1947 the National Party realized its mistake and revised its policy and once again demanded independence of Balochistan.
Thanks  There were two other significant parties at work in Balochistan one Anjuman-e-Watan Party formed and led by Abdul Samad Achakzai and it supported constitutional reforms in British Afghanistan and was affiliated with the Indian Congress Party. It represented the Pashtuns and demanded rights for them. The other Muslim League was founded in 1938 and led by Qazi M. Isa and it too was dominated by Pashtuns and demanded their rights.

      In June 1947 British Government announced plans for Partition of India. British Afghanistan and Baloch Tribal areas which included Marri-Bugti, Khetran and Baloch Tribal areas of Dera Ghazi Khan fate was to be decided by a referendum. There was difference of opinion on the voting of the referendum with British confining the voting rights to the hereditary Shahi Jirga, Jinnah suggested expanding the voting rights, Nehru suggested consultation of as large a number of people as possible along with the Shahi Jirga.

     The British Government did not agree with both and though Mountbatten favoured referendum by elected Jirgas but there was no time for that. On June 29th the Pashtun Jirga favoured the merger of British Afghanistan with Pakistan. Baloch term this referendum as spurious because preliminary meeting for Jirga was held on 21st July 1947 and it ended in pandemonium and it was decided to hold the Jirga on the 30th of June but was deviously held on the 29th without informing all the members. With this referendum as its basis the British Balochistan including the leased and leased and tribal areas which were constitutionally part of the Khanate were quite illegally acceded to Pakistan on 15th August 1947.

   Baloch chiefs of Marri-Bugti areas Sardar Doda Khan Marri, regent for Sardar Khair Baksh Marri, and Sardar Muhammad Akbar Khan made a written representation to the British Government about their decision to join Khanate yet they weren’t federated to the Khanate. Requests of several Baloch Chiefs of Derajat for the same were also ignored by the British.

    It is interesting to note that after partition the Chiefs of Derajat were given the choice to relinquish their privileges by joining Balochistan or retaining them by joining Punjab. This British Administered Balochistan area of DG Khan was misappropriated by Punjab in 1950. The Tumandars signed the agreement under threat of forsaking their large land holdings if they didn’t opt for Punjab. A monument to that injustice stands at Fort Munro, 6470 feet above sea level. The British did not give the British administered Balochistan people the same rights as the British administered Afghanistan.

     The British authorities in India did always consider Balochistan as an independent and sovereign entity and never as part of the Indian subcontinent. The 1854 and 1876 treaties between British government and the Khan of Kalat duly recognized Balochistan as a sovereign country outside India. In the partition plan of 3rd June 1947, both Pakistan and the British had accepted Kalat State’s sovereignty.

   On 4th August 1947, a tripartite agreement was signed between Pakistan, the British and Balochistan called The Standstill Agreement in which the sovereign status of Balochistan was accepted. The article I of this agreement stated that: The Government of Pakistan recognizes the status of Kalat as a free and independent state which has bilateral relations with the British Government, and whose rank and position is different from that of other Indian states. In the Kalat’s memorandum to the Cabinet Mission which Jinnah presented in May 1946 stated that Kalat was a non-Indian State and its independence was supported. Jinnah held that position till June 1947. During British colonial rule in India, Nepal and Kalat were the only states authorized to appoint ambassadors.

    The Khan declared Balochistan independent on 12th August 1947, two days before the independence of Pakistan. The Khan affirmed his intention to build Balochistan as a prosperous sovereign country in which Baloch could retain their identity and live in accordance with their traditions and establish relations through treaties of friendship with neighboring states of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan as well as with India and outside world.

   Soon after the independence elections were held to Diwan, Balochistan’s bi-cameral legislature and a period of tranquility and peace was ensured in the country. The diwan consisted of the Darul-Umara, the House of the Tribal chiefs or the Upper House and the Darul-Awam (the House of Commons or Lower House). Darul-Umara was composed of the hereditary Chiefs of the tribal provinces of Jhalawan and Sarawan, 35 in number. Darul-Awam had 52 members, 47 were elected and 5 nominated by the Khan

  The Assembly held sessions in September and December 1947 and most favoured alliance and not accession with Pakistan. On December 14th 1947 Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo made a landmark speech and it is considered as a valid argument for independence.

   He said, "We have a distinct civilization and a separate culture like that of Iran and Afghanistan. We are Muslims but it is not necessary that by virtue of being Muslims we should lose our freedom and merge with others. If the mere fact that we are Muslims requires us to join Pakistan then Afghanistan and Iran, both Muslim countries, should also amalgamate with Pakistan. 

      We were never a part of India before the British rule. Pakistan’s unpleasant and loathsome desire that our national homeland, Balochistan should merge with it is impossible to consider. We are ready to have friendship with that country on the basis of sovereign equality but by no means ready to merge with Pakistan. We can survive without Pakistan. But the question is what Pakistan would be without us? 

     I do not propose to create hurdles for the newly created Pakistan in the matters of defense and external communication. But we want an honorable relationship not a humiliating one. If Pakistan wants to treat us as a sovereign people, we are ready to extend the hand of friendship and cooperation. If Pakistan does not agree to do so, flying in the face of democratic principles, such an attitude will be totally unacceptable to us, and if we are forced to accept this fate then every Baloch son will sacrifice his life in defense of his national freedom.”
      In the mean time Pakistan began to pressurize the newly independent Kalat State to join Pakistan and an uneasy calm appeared in relations between Kalat and Pakistan. Talks between Pakistan and Kalat dragged on. Pakistan continued to harass the Khan and Baloch State machinery on various pretexts and was engaged in conspiracies and underhand tactics to compel the Khan to join Pakistan.

    When Pakistan was convinced that the Khan would not accede, separate instruments of Accession by the states of Lasbela and Kharan, which were feudatories of the Khan, and of Makran which was never more than a district of the State of Kalat, were announced on March 18th. Accession of Makran, Kharan and Lasbela robbed Kalat of more than half its territory and its access to the sea.
      The following day the Khan of Kalat issued a statement refusing to believe that Pakistan as champion of Muslim rights in the world would infringe the rights of small Muslim neighbours, pointing out that Makran as a district of Kalat, had no separate status and that the foreign policy of Lasbela and Kharan was placed under Kalat by Standstill agreement.

      On 26th March 1948 Pakistan army was ordered to move into Baloch coastal region of Pasni, Jiwani, and Turbat. This was the first act of aggression prior to the march on Capital Kalat by Pakistani military detachment on 1st April 1948. The Khan capitulated on March 27th after the Army moved in to coastal region and it was announced in Karachi that Khan of Kalat has agreed to merge his State with Pakistan. Under the constitution of Kalat, the Khan was not authorized to take such a basic decision. The Balochistan assembly had already rejected any suggestion of forfeiting the independence of Balochistan on any pretext. The sovereign Baloch State after British withdrawal from India lasted only 227 days.

      The merger of the Khanate into Pakistan in 1948 resulted in unrest and Anti-Pakistan rallies throughout Balochistan. The National Party, which had espoused the cause of a "Greater Balochistan" rejected accession and was behind much of the agitation. Its leaders, Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Mir Abdul Aziz Kurd and others were arrested. A short-lived rebellion by the younger brother of the Khan was brutally crushed by Pakistan army and the leader of the uprising Prince Abdul Karim was imprisoned. This first encounter between the Baloch and the forces of the Pakistan state was crucial in shaping nationalist insecurity and fear of repression at the hands of a new colonial power.

    The forced merger of Kalat State with Pakistan which ended three hundred years of independent and semi-independent Baloch State was one of the epoch-making events in the history of the Baloch people. Colonialism be it of Iran, Afghanistan, Britain or Pakistan played the most important role in molding the consciousness of nationalism which had been present in formative shape all through their history but had remained latent and therefore unable to push their struggle forward in the manner that it is doing now. The consciousness acquired at a bitter price is now becoming the determining factor in their struggle to be the masters

March 30, 2018

Bugti should tweet about his family's ugly history rather than Baloch history

Bugti should tweet about his family's ugly history rather than Baloch history

March 30, 2018

Nawab Bugti with assassinated premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto at the wedding of Nawabzada Rehan Bugti, father of Brahumdagh Bugti

For lack of a better comparison, a twitter account in the hands of a failed Baloch “nawab” hand is like a bull in the China shop. Or let us ask this way: when does a person find himself in a “golden cage” bored to death?

Answer is when you are only one of the three claimants to a tribal fiefdom that is bigger than Cyprus, or almost as big as Lebanon, or half the land size of Israel, and  you are surrounded by a group of sycophants whose dream in life is to carry your suitcase and that too in Geneva, Switzerland. Even if your wine closet has the best alcohol that you drink every night and puff cigarettes in the manner of a dejected lover of Pakistan—not caring for other family members in the house--, you will feel little joy and lot of frustration, even if you some rumors say own a gold kalashnikov. Especially when you make simple demands to your tormentors in Islamabad as a condition to stop blowing gas pipelines-- and perhaps blow whatever they want like the rest of your nawab clan--, but the army generals humiliate you by refusing those small requests and minor demands then you are more frustrated than the beautiful young lady who feels scorned – hell hath had known no fury than a woman scorned.

Much happens in Baloch high society, if there is one. For instance a nawab can marry his aunt and one main intent of that action is just to prove to the world his uncle is impotent.

In a series of tweets, Brahumdagh Bugti, grandson of Nawab Bugti, whose main qualification is just that grandson of the assassinated nawab, shocked the Baloch Diaspora by his uncalled for tweets, whose primary aim was to undermine the political position of Cardiff-exiled Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Daud Ahmadzai. Brahumdagh Bugti is also great great grandson of a man who got “Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE)” for licking the boots of British imperialists, Sir Shahbaz Khan Bugti.

In a series of tweets on the 70th anniversary of the occupation of Balochistan, Brahumdagh Bugti opened a can of worms by tweeting, “On March 27th 1948, Pakistan attacked and forcefully annexed Kalat, one of the states of #Balochistan. The other states and tribal areas had joined Pakistan before that. It is factually incorrect to 27 March occupation day of entire Balochistan.” His second tweet said, “After the annexation of #Balochistan, our forefathers always tried to adjust within #Pakistan. With all forms of struggle, the entire Baloch leadership, at one time or another, strived for the Baloch rights inside Pakistan.” A thirsd tweet said “It is as a result of constant treatment of #Balochistan as a colony & repeated injustices against the Baloch people by the Pakistani state that Baloch people now demand freedom from Pakistan.” A fourth tweet said, “Therefore, it is completely wrong to call Kalat's forceful annexation with Pakistan as occupation of entire Balochistan and calling for its restoration is equivalent to dividing Balochistan into several states & tribal areas (which were not part of Kalat). It is not acceptable.”

Many of his party colleagues, specially the good Baloch who do not believe in spooning the nawab, made their disgust known. However, Bugti stuck to his guns and if to say his tweets were not his personal tweets but of his entire one-man party, he said, "Baloch Republican Party rejects 27 March as occupation of #Balochistan. Our struggle is based on facts and we strongly discourage the use of twisted facts which damage Baloch struggle."

In staed of discouragaing his minions from attacking other party leaders, Brahumdagh Bugti retweeted a tweet of Jawad Baloch of Afshani Gulli, Lyari, who now lives in Germany. “Lies and twisting facts undermines the legitimate movement not the historical facts. Biggest shame is manipulating naked truths to gain political advantage.”

Brahumdagh Bugti also in juvenile fashion retweeted the tweets of one of his other fans, Abdul Nawaz Bugti, son in law of Sher Mohammed Bugti, spokesperson for the Baloch Republican Party. “In my view, the biggest shame is to build a just cause on twisted facts. Nothing can undermine a legitimate movement more than lies.” Abdul Nawaz Bugti also tweeted, “You cannot expect the world to believe your facts and support your struggle against oppression when you misrepresent well-documented historical facts.”

When you are approaching 60 you like to dig facts from the world of your memories so I recall a wedding ceremony many years ago. That was my first face to face meeting with former governor of Balochistan, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. Nawab Bugti was accompanied by his more decent, polite and educated younger brother Ahmednawaz Bugti. I remember in plain sight a high society woman shake hands with nawab bugti but then the nawab did not let the woman’s hand go. Maybe it was three minutes or five minutes, but it looked forever as even the facial expression of the lady conveyed she was not feeling comfortable.

But you could expect anything from Nawab Bugti since he was among the first significant tribal chieftain from Balochistan who proudly shook hands with the villain of history, tuberculosis ridden Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Nawab Bugti was described as a “bloodthirsty character” by alleged MI6 agent Sylvia Matheson, who made no secret she was romantically inclined towards Nawab Bugti.

“About this man you killed,” Sylvia Matheson wrote in her book Tigers of Baluchistan about the Bugti tribe. “Er – I mean why … ?”

“Oh, that! Well, the man annoyed me. I have forgotten what it was about now, but I shot him dead.  I’ve rather a hasty temper you know, but under tribal law of course it wasn’t a capital offence, and in any case as the eldest son of the Chieftain I was perfectly entitled to do as I pleased in our own territory.  We enjoy absolute sovereignty over our people and they accept it as part of their tradition. As a matter of fact my own father was murdered – he was poisoned – and what’s more, I know who did it. It was his half brother  whom I call uncle, and who’s been acting as Regent while I was in College…”

Matheson wote she choked on her tea. “I knew that the chieftain had only just left Aithison College in Lahore, one of the then so-called Princes’ Colleges of India. I knew that he had just come into full ruling powers over 42,000 Bugtis, all agitating for an independent Baluchistan (just as 20 years later they are full of impossible ideals). I knew, too, that while the tribe was notorious for its murders, its robberies and kidnappings, its Chieftains were remarkable for their audacious courage, their heroic accomplishments on the battlefield, their inborn hankering after any kind of a scrap, and their arrogant good looks.”

She wrote she tried to pretend she was used to hearing such tales of violence over the teacups. “So what are you going to do about it?” I asked. “Will you poison your uncle?”

The late Nawab Bugti seemed shocked at the suggestion.

“‘Good heavens no – poisoning’s too good for such a man. Besides, I don’t want a blood feud on my hands, which is what that would mean. No, I shall wait until I get rid of the whole family – discreetly o course’ and he smiled deprecatingly like some Medici nobleman discussing the removal of a tiresome fellow Florentine.’

But of course what Nawab Bugti did in 1973-77 may never have been forgivable had he not thrown the gauntlet at gen Musharraf  30 years later. So Mr Bugti, please forget Balochistan history and concentrate on your family history. You have lots of dirty linen piled up the Aegean stables of your rotten fiefdom.

What I could understand was your disrespect for me and also for one of the most qualified female workers ever to join your party, Professor Naela Quadri., last fall I was shocked to see some of your minions trying to stop people from saying hello to Professor Quadri in stead of you inviting her to confer honors on her. Trust me had you given her due respect you might have been in Delhi today with tens of thousands of crazy Indians worshiping your nonsense, not in exile in Geneva surrounded by your family and the larger family of one of your waderas, Sher Mohammed Bugti, and tweeting during unearthly hours as you have nothing better to do.

Let me point out how your tweet can be best described. According to Mohinder Gulati, former World Bank and UN official, and member of the American Friends of Balochistan, "What the Baloch are doing is standing outside and pissing inside while what they need to do is stand inside but piss outside." So please stop pissing inside Baloch history. You know nothing Mr Bugti


Mar 8, 2018




Sohaela Amiri








At a time when many don’t agree with federal foreign policy direction, local governments at the state and city levels seem to successfully position themselves as influential actors in international affairs.

Climate change, immigration and countering violent extremism are just a few tangible areas that exhibit the global footprint of cities.

The gridlock in Washington, D.C. is disheartening, but action-oriented pragmatic mayors who are not as constrained by party politics, have become a beacon of hope. Cities are not signing international treaties, nor do they have embassies around the world (yet). However, cities can engage in all kinds of negotiations, reach agreements and influence world politics, one step at a time.

Cities form networks, engage in dialogue with counterparts, share best practices, and encourage collaboration between international private and public entities.

Even though membership of C40—similar to the G20 summit—has been primarily based on economic advancement, the mission, combating climate change, is not purely related to financial and economic issues.

It can be argued that G20’s political clout and ability to influence international policy goes beyond regulating the global financial market. The C40 network which consists of “city practitioners and mayors around the world” can potentially have an even bigger political clout and ability to influence international policy beyond climate action. C40 cities might begin with implementing policies at the local level, but with a global vision and network, their agenda is much more likely to be adopted internationally, one city at a time.

We need to understand international affairs in the current context, and with an eye on the rise of unconventional actors winning hearts and minds, punching above their weight, and influencing foreign policy in ways that were previously unfathomable.

It is perhaps inevitable that our national hard power is exerted and controlled by Washington, but our soft power assets, for better or worse, go beyond the U.S. Department of State’s initiatives.

In our globalized, hyper-connected world, more unconventional actors are entering the arena of global politics and diplomacy. The system is becoming less hierarchical and more inclusive of networks of non-state and sub-state actors. While it is true that the primary driver for city diplomacy has been trade, additional objectives seem to have been added to the list: the security of residents and businesses of any city as well as the influence they hope to have on international politics, especially when their priorities are different than those of their fellow country(wo)men.

When the U.S. was acing public diplomacy through United States Information Agency (USIA) during the Cold War, there was a great appreciation for the roles cities played in winning the hearts and minds of people around the world. The sister cities initiative is a well-known example. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the program became less of a priority for many. But, in the face of rising nationalist and populist movements, it seems like such programs might make a comeback to prioritize the global interests of the local population, when the federal government fails to do so. This time, the primary objective of city diplomacy might not be set by the national government.

Considering the effects of globalization as well as advancements in communication and transportation technologies, cities’ new and improved global role is one to watch closely.

Traditional theories and practices in international relations are not enough to explain what is happening around us today. We need to understand international affairs in the current context, and with an eye on the rise of unconventional actors winning hearts and minds, punching above their weight, and influencing foreign policy in ways that were previously unfathomable.

How is the field of international relations theory and practice evolving to account for a more polylateral international system? What are the implications for national security? For foreign policy? What frameworks can we use to assess and debate what happens when federal foreign policies are not aligned with local policy interests? What historical lessons are to be learned from a time when the notion of ‘country’ did not exist, and when cities ruled the world

Reading list on Public Diplomacy by Bruce Gregory

Intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, here is an update on resources that may be of general interest.  Suggestions for future updates are welcome.


Bruce Gregory

Institute for Public Diplomacy

   and Global Communication

George Washington University


Melissa Conley Tyler, Rhea Matthews, and Emma Brockhurst, Think Tank Diplomacy, Brill Research Perspectives in Diplomacy and Foreign Policy, Volume 2.3 (2017).  One of the most interesting conversations in diplomacy today turns on new ideas about diplomatic activities and spaces within and beyond states, and whether some civil society actors are independent diplomacy actors.  Pioneers include: Geoffrey Wiseman (“polylateral diplomacy”), Brian Hocking (“catalytic diplomacy”), Hocking, Jan Melissen, Sean Riordan, and Paul Sharp (“integrative diplomacy”), Andrew Cooper (“diplomatic afterlives”), Jorge Heine (“network diplomacy”), and John Robert Kelley (“new diplomacy”).  Conley Tyler, Matthews, and Brockhurst (Australia National University) advance these ideas with this carefully argued exploration of think tank diplomacy.  Their central claim is “that think tanks do have a role in diplomacy, not only in supporting diplomatic activity but playing roles in diplomacy in their own right.”  They engage in at least four diplomatic functions – negotiations, communication, information gathering, and promoting friendly relations and minimizing frictions – when acting in circumstances “reasonably described as diplomatic” and where governments and other stakeholders regard them as legitimate.  Their study begins with a conceptual framework and a working definition of think tanks.  They continue with a discussion of modern diplomacy, evolving roles of non-state actors in diplomacy and international relations, and a matrix enhanced analysis, citing numerous examples of direct and indirect diplomatic roles of think tanks.  Theoretical ideas are grounded in a firm grasp of the literature and eight in-depth multi-regional case studies:  Korea National Diplomatic AcademyChinese Association for International Understanding, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael)International Crisis Group, Brazil’s Fundacao Getulio Vargas, the UK’s International Institute for Strategic Studies, the South African Institute of International Affairs, and the Australian Institute of International Affairs.  The cases illustrate how think tanks perform diplomatic functions; assess strengths, limitations, and challenges; and foreshadow further research.  A cutting edge book in diplomacy studies that gives true meaning to the term “must read.”


“Cultural Value: Cultural Relations in Societies in Transition: A Literature Review,” Cultural Value Project, British Council and Goethe-Institut, January 2018.  The stated purpose of the cultural value project of the British Council and Goethe-Institut is “to build a better understanding of the impact and value of cultural relations” – the conditions, places, and contexts where they can work (and not work), their relative strengths, and different kinds of value.  This report, written in collaboration with academic partners, contains a review of recent academic literature in English and German on cultural relations concepts and practice.  The authors find “fluidity in definition” and “conceptual confusion” in what is “primarily a practitioners’ term.  This “confusion can enable useful flexibility,” they argue, but it also means cultural relations organizations need to communicate their goals “openly and clearly” if “mutuality – a key aspiration is to be achieved.”


Angus Deaton, “The U.S. Can No Longer Hide From Its Deep Poverty Problem,” The New York Times, January 25, 2018.  Pew Research surveys, soft power rankings, nation branding indices, and other metrics portray a decline in US soft power based on perceptions of US leadership, policies, and various cultural and social indicators.  Princeton University economist Angus Deaton uses United Nations and World Bank studies to suggest some of the reasons.  A recent UN report finds “today’s United States has proved itself to be exceptional in far more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights.  As a result, contrasts between private wealth and public squalor abound.”  For many Americans life expectancy is falling and mortality rates from drugs, alcohol, and suicide are rising.  World Bank poverty line data show that of the 769 million people worldwide who live on less than $1.90 a day, 3.2.million live in the United States (3.3 million live in other high-income countries, mostly Italy, Japan, and Spain).  Deaton argues the World Bank, although it adjusts for price differences, ignores differences in needs.  Some necessities in rich, cold, urban, and individualistic countries, such as the cost of housing, are not required in many poor countries.  Needs based analysis puts the poverty line in India at $1.90 a day and $4.00 a day in the United States, which means 5.3 million Americans are in dire poverty by global standards.  Deaton points to ethical, political, and practical choices in tradeoffs between foreign assistance and the social contract at home.  See “Statement on Visit to the USA, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.”


Jonathan Israel, The Expanding Blaze: How the American Revolution Ignited the World, 1775-1848, (Princeton University Press, 2017).  This is a huge book – a sweeping, deeply researched, well-written, masterfully indexed 755 pages.  Princeton University historian Jonathan Israel transforms the American Revolution from the standard narrative of an isolated drama in the formation of a nation state into an event with “immense social, cultural, and ideological impact” on democratic modernity in Europe and the Americas.  To use today’s vocabulary, it’s about soft power, democratization, public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, propaganda, and human rights.  It’s about gaps between liberty and egalitarian ideals and compromises with slavery, dispossession of native populations, and varieties of idealism’s accommodation with the old order.  Nuggets abound in this global context.  Benjamin Franklin as accomplished court and public diplomat.  Iroquois chief Joseph Brandt’s ceremonial diplomacy in Boston and London.  Thomas Jefferson’s diplomacy in France.  And how the radical ideas of Jefferson, Thomas Paine, James Madison, James Monroe and others influenced democratic movements and new forms of governance in Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Greece, Canada, Haiti, Brazil and Spanish America.  Israel concludes with a meditation on populism and the radical Enlightenment’s demise beginning in the 1850s.  Whether your lens is general satisfaction with America’s vision of democracy and civil rights, or rejection of an exceptionalism convinced that America’s cause is the universal cause of all, Israel’s book has much to offer.


Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael D. Rich, Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life, RAND, January 2018 (the 301-page report’s pdf version can be downloaded or read online.)  RAND’s Kavanagh and Rich identify “Truth Decay” as related trends in two decades of growing disregard for facts, data, and analysis in political and civil discourse: (1) increasing disagreement about facts and facts-based analysis, (2) a blurring line between opinions and facts, (3) a rise in the volume and influence of opinion and personal experience over fact, and (4) declining trust in respected sources of factual information.  Their report compares differences in three historical eras, the 1890s, 1920s, and 1960s, with what is occurring in the 2000s and 2010s.  They assess four causes of “Truth Decay.”  First, characteristics of cognitive processing that influence how people think and behave – mental shortcuts, personal experiences, and preferences for information that confirms pre-existing beliefs.  These cognitive biases, straight from Walter Lippmann’s century old Public Opinion, are not new, but their impact is heightened by “Truth Decay’s” other causes.  A second cause includes the rise of social media, transformation of media markets, and intentional actions of agents disseminating misleading and biased information.  A third cause derives from complex competing demands on an education system that limits its capacity for civic education, media literacy, and critical thinking.  A fourth cause turns on political, socio-demographic, and economic polarization.  RAND’s report provides a deep dive into these causes and their consequences, and recommends priority areas for further research.  See also George Will, “When the Whole Country Becomes a Campus Safe Space,” The Washington Post, January 24, 2018.  (Courtesy of Tom Miller)


Roger J. Kreuz and Richard M. Roberts, Getting Through: The Pleasures and Perils of Cross-Cultural Communication, (MIT Press, 2017).  Kreuz (University of Memphis) and Roberts (US Foreign Service) combine scholarship (psychology, sociology, linguistics) and diplomatic practice in this study of language, cognition, and culture in cross-cultural communication.  Key concepts include the importance of emotions, distinctions between cognitive and emotional empathy, understanding how language is used, varieties of cultural classification frameworks, and speech act theory.  Their central argument seeks to explain cross-cultural communication through “pragmatics” – understanding “how language is used and not just what words mean.”  Kreuz and Roberts are adept at illuminating complex ideas with an abundance of examples, cartoons, popular culture, and personal experiences in diplomacy.


Barbora Maronkova, From Crawling to Walking: Progress in Evaluating the Effectiveness of Public Diplomacy: Lessons from NATO, Paper 1, February 2018, CPD Perspectives, USC Center for Public Diplomacy.  Maronkova (NATO, Public Diplomacy Division) explores the development of evaluation and measurement in NATO’s public diplomacy – experiments with models and methods and lessons learned – since the launch of a reform process in 2012.  Her study contains a chapter on concepts and practical approaches to public diplomacy evaluation with references to the work of scholars in the field and recent reports on evaluation from the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.  Particular attention is paid to NATO’s OASIS model (a campaign approach to setting objectives, analyzing audiences, and identifying strategies that “allow for focused impact and impact measurement”).  Maronkova concludes with a case study, “NATO Warsaw Summit 2016: Measuring Impact of Its Public Diplomacy.”


“The Meaning of Cities,” The Hedgehog Review: Critical Reflections on Contemporary Culture, Summer 2017.  As cities take on new importance in diplomacy and governance, essays in this edition of THR offer provocative overviews for diplomacy scholars and forward leaning practitioners.  Joshua J. Yates (University of Virginia) in “Saving the Soul of the Smart City” discusses dangers in a highly technocratic urbanism devoted to optimization of convenience, comfort, profit, or pleasure.  In “The New Urban Agenda,” Noah J. Toly (Wheaton College) argues cities are an optimal scale and site for global governance – “the most proficient actor in addressing global challenges, and the true school of civic virtue.”  Marc J. Dunkelman (Brown University) explores challenges to neighborliness from gentrification, ethnic diversity, and digital immersion in “Next-Door Strangers: The Crisis of Urban Anonymity.”  Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein (Louisiana State University) look at gaps between metropolitan areas and rural regions and small towns in “Cosmopolitanism vs. Provincialism: How the Politics of Place Hurts America.”


Jan Melissen, “Fake News and What (Not) To Do About It,” Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael), February 2018.  Melissen (Clingendael, University of Antwerp) begins this brief paper with an overview, citing examples, of multiple problems: technologies that change the nature, scale, and speed of disinformation; fabricated stories that look real; fake news as a form of 21st century propaganda; destabilizing effects on societies and a potential threat to international stability.  His “what to do” menu includes greater critical awareness of context, consuming news that does not affirm one’s beliefs, transmitting content with journalism norms in mind, legal solutions, taming excessive corporate power, and fact checking.  There is no “quick fix” he concludes.  Understanding problems comes first.  Civil society involvement, greater resilience of individuals, and systematic meta-literacy in education systems are “probably” the best antidotes.


Iver B. Neumann, “A Prehistorical Evolutionary View of Diplomacy,” Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, (2018) 14:4-10.  In this original and thought-provoking essay, Neumann (University of Oslo) gives new meaning to high altitude perspective.  His purpose is to frame diplomacy in the context of evolutionary tipping points understood as culminations of long-term trends.  He begins with the advent of big game hunting as a precursor to human cooperation.  He then identifies five tipping points: “classificatory kinship as a template for regular cooperation; regular and ritualized contacts between culturally similar small-scale polities; regular and ritualized contacts between culturally different large-scale polities; permanent bilateral diplomacy and permanent multilateral diplomacy.”  In his conclusion, Neumann speculates that “hybridized diplomacy” is an emerging tipping point in which state and non-state actors are becoming more alike, and non-state actors are taking on diplomatic roles.


Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “How Sharp Power Threatens Soft Power,” Foreign Affairs, January 24, 2018.  Nye (Harvard University) warns against overreaction to “sharp power” – a term coined and explained by the National Endowment for Democracy’s Christopher Walker and Jessica Ludwig in Foreign Affairs and a lengthy Endowment report.  Sharp power, they argue, is used by Russia and China to exploit open political and information environments in democracies.  They contrast sharp power with soft power (attraction and persuasion) and urge more assertive defensive and offensive responses by democracies.  Nye responds by arguing Russian and Chinese “information warfare” is real, but that sharp power is a form of hard power.  What’s new is not the deceptive use of information; what’s new is its speed and low cost.  Democracies, Nye contends, should not imitate these methods.  Overreaction to sharp power undercuts advantages that come from soft power on its own and when coupled with hard power as a force multiplier.  In a response to Nye, Walker points to a paradox:  Russia and China do poorly in soft power surveys, yet they are “projecting more influence . . . without relying principally on military might or even on raw economic coercion.”  “Sound diagnosis” and “more precise terminology” are pre-requisites to an appropriate response.  See Christopher Walker, “The Point of Sharp Power,” Project Syndicate, February 1, 2018.


James Pamment, “Foresight Revisited: Visions of Twenty-First Century Diplomacy,” Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, (2018) 14:47-54.  In 1999, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook tasked a group of young “fast stream” British diplomats, known as “Young Turks,” to challenge conventional thinking and provide a radical bottom up view of how the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) should change by 2010.  Pamment (Lund University) examines their Foresight Report, an internal 104-page study never publicly released, which he obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.  The controversial report, widely discussed within British diplomatic and political circles, contained 97 findings and recommendations for transformational FCO changes in an era of digital technologies, newly empowered non-state actors, understanding public diplomacy as a term and category of practice in a British context, and the changing roles of foreign ministries.  The report also voiced a critique of relations between diplomats and elected officials.  Pamment provides an analysis of the report’s key judgments and impact.  He concludes it is a significant document in British diplomacy, in global debates on the future of diplomacy, and in our contemporary understanding of digital diplomacy and the centrality of public diplomacy in diplomatic practice.


[From Pamment’s analysis, the Foresight Report appears similar in purpose and some content to the nearly contemporaneous Reinventing Diplomacy in the Information Age,  Report of the CSIS Advisory Panel on Diplomacy in the Information Age, (Project Director, Barry Fulton; Project Cochairs Richard Burt and Olin Robison), Center for Strategic and International Studies, December, 1998.  In the latter study, a 63-member panel of American diplomats, scholars, journalists, business executives, and NGO representatives recommended moving “public diplomacy from the sidelines to the core of diplomacy” and sweeping changes “in every aspect of the nation’s diplomatic establishment.”]


Giles Scott-Smith, “Special Issue: The Evolution of Diplomacy,” Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, (2018) 14, 1-3.  In his introduction to articles in this issue of PB&PD, Scott-Smith (Leiden University) briefly surveys perspectives of diplomacy scholars and practitioners on how diplomacy is changing and should evolve in the context of radical trends in today’s global environment.  He summarizes each article’s point of view and argues that collectively they “provide a useful discussion on the question of evolution as a relevant concept for the study of (public) diplomacy.”  Articles by Iver Neumann and James Pamment are cited elsewhere in this list.  Other articles include Geoffrey Allen Pigman (University of Pretoria), “The Populist Wave and Global Trade Diplomacy Besieged: A European Approach to WTO Reform;”Christina La Cour (European University Institute), “The Evolution of the ‘Public’ in Diplomacy;” Hak Yin and Seanon Wong (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), “The Evolution of Chinese Public Diplomacy and the Rise of Think Tanks;” Katarzyna Jezierska (University West Trollhättan, Sweden), “Taming Feminism? The Place of Gender Equality in the ‘Progressive Sweden’ Brand;” and Noé Cornago (University of the Basque Country), “Beyond the Media Event: Modes of Existence of the Diplomatic Incident.”


Philip Seib, As Terrorism Evolves: Media, Religion, and Governance, (Cambridge University Press, 2017).  Seib (University of Southern California) turns in this slim volume to what he calls a new and durable “terrorism era” in which evolving terrorist organizations are capable of mounting attacks with global reach and acting as state-like entities that take and hold territory.  Five chapters divide into conceptual frameworks: definitions of terrorism and terrorists’ motivations, connections between terrorism and religion, organizational skills of growing sophistication, the role of the media, and responses to terrorism through political, military, and public diplomacy means.  Much of the focus is on Islamic State, but attention is paid also to Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, the Haqqani network, Jamaah Islamiya, and other organizations.  In a brief section on “the value of public diplomacy,” some provocative ideas warrant discussion and further research.  For example: “part of counterterrorism is focused on messaging and countermessaging, with heavy emphasis on social media.  Credibility is crucial to such work, and so governments’ fingerprints on online products should be as invisible as possible” (p. 166).  What priority should be given to messaging?  Where should lines be drawn between attribution, non-attribution, and “attributable” content?  Are government’s voices ipso facto less credible than civil society’s voices, an underlying assumption for many in today’s discourse?  Seib writes for students and general audiences with the organization and clarity readers have come to expect from this professor of journalism, public diplomacy, and international relations.


Scott Shane, “America Meddles in Elections, Too,” The New York Times, February 18, 2018.  National security correspondent Shane compiles examples from decades of US efforts, covert and overt, to interfere in foreign elections – Italy, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Serbia, Russia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere – since the early Cold War.  Quotes from former CIA officers, National Endowment for Democracy activists, and Defense and State Department officials provide kick-starters for many a seminar and think tank discussion.  Russia’s methods in the 2016 US election “were the digital version of methods used both by the United States and Russia for decades” (Dov H. Levin).   Blatant US efforts to prevent Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s re-election in 2009: “our clumsy and failed putsch” (Robert Gates).  America’s democracy promotion and Russia’s democracy disruption are not morally equivalent.  “It’s comparing someone who delivers lifesaving medicine to someone who brings deadly poison” (Kenneth Wollack).  It’s “like saying cops and bad guys are the same because they both have guns – motivation matters.”   Heavy-handed intervention is “not what democracy means” (Thomas Carothers).


Janet Steele, Mediating Islam: Cosmopolitan Journalisms in Muslim Southeast Asia, (University of Washington Press, 2018).  Steele (Director, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, George Washington University) brings the strengths of an accomplished journalism and media scholar and twenty years of field research in Southeast Asia to a book that explores important questions.  (1) Is there an Islamic form of journalism, and if so how does it relate to democratic reform?  (2) How do Muslim journalists think about their work in the context of Islam, and what do they mean by truth, balance, verification, and independence from power?  (3) What are the varieties of practical approaches in their work?  Her book seeks answers to these and other questions in case studies of journalism practices in five diverse publications in Indonesia and Malaysia: Sabili (“scripturalist Islam”), Republika (“Islam as market niche”), Harakah (“political Islam”), Malaysiakini (Islam in a secular context), and Tempo (“cosmopolitan Islam in practice”).  Among many conclusions, Steele argues that Muslim journalists in Southeast Asia and their Western counterparts agree on basic principles of journalism, “but the ways in which they explain these principles to themselves are different.”  Not least among many contributions in this important study is the way the author, a self-described Western, secular, female scholar, has engaged in sustained, productive cross-cultural dialogue with journalists in majority Muslim countries, many of whom are not liberal or secular.


Rodrigo Tavares, Paradiplomacy: Cities and States as Global Players (Oxford University Press, 2016).  Tavares (Granite Partners, United Nations University) has written an informed guide to the rise of cities and other sub-state actors in diplomacy and global affairs.  His book explores debates on the meaning of paradiplomacy and related terms, a brief history with examples (beginning with Greek city states), and analysis of the varieties of goals, methods, and tools of contemporary sub-state diplomacy actors.  Tavares provides a wealth of case studies (Azores, Bavaria, Buenos Aires, California, Catalonia, Flanders, Guangzhou, Massachusetts, Medellin, New South Wales, New York City, Quebec, Tokyo, and more).  He concludes with thoughts on further research on sub-state diplomacy in an era when foreign ministries face changing roles and challenges.


Keren Yarhi-Milo, “After Credibility: Foreign Policy in the Trump Era,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2018, 68-77.  Yarhi-Milo (Princeton University) begins with a survey of credibility (signaling reputation as it affects threats and promises; general reputation for whether an actor is trustworthy, sincere, and cooperative), the relevance of contexts, and the skepticism of some that reputations matter.  After a nod to effects of President Obama’s “redline” on Syria’s chemical weapons, her article turns to a discussion of President Trump’s inconsistencies, lies, bizarre outbursts, exaggerated threats, and lack of concern for reputational consequences; discussion of whether some strategic “rational irrationality” exists; and whether Trump should be taken literally.  Yarhi-Milo concludes with observations on the adverse impact of damaged reputation on diplomacy, US security guarantees, emboldened adversaries, and the presidency as the ultimate voice in US foreign policy.  Foreign actors, she argues, will pay more attention to whether and how other US institutions and American civil society respond with bipartisan and univocal signaling.


Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest


Mark L. Asquino, “A Lost Opportunity for Diplomacy,” February 14, 2018, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, George Washington University, Take Five Blog.


Corneliu Bjola and Ilan Manor, “From Digital Tactics to Digital Strategies: Practicing Digital PD,” February 14, 2018, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.


Hal Brands, “Not Even Trump Can Obliterate America’s Soft Power, But the Damage May Take Years to Undo,” January 18, 2018, Bloomberg View.


Helle Dale, “Voice of America is Undermining the US Abroad. Trump Can Easily Change That,” February 5, 2018, The Daily Signal.


Vasily Gatov, “How To Talk With Russia,” February 26, 2018, The American Interest.


Gardner Harris, “State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling, It Has Spent $0.” March 4, 2018, The New York Times.


Albert R. Hunt, “Trump Erodes the Global Power of American Values,” January 21, 2018, Bloomberg View.


David Ignatius, “China’s Fingerprints Are Everywhere,” January 9, 2018, The Washington Post.


John A. Lindburg, “Soft Power and the Lessons of History,” December 2017, Letter to the Editor, Foreign Service Journal.  


Ilan Manor, “Using the Logic of Networks in Public Diplomacy,” January 31, 2018. USC Center on Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.


Amy Mitchell, Katie Simmons, Katerina Eva Matsa, and Laura Silver, “Publics Globally Want Unbiased News Coverage, But are Divided on Whether Their News Media Deliver,” January 11, 2018, Pew Research Center.


Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “China Turns Soft Power Into a Sharp Tool,” January 10, 2018, The Globe and Mail.


Princeton University, “Birkelund Gift Funds New Certificate Program in History and Diplomacy,” Stephen Kotkin and Admiral Mike Mullen to Co-direct, February 2018.


Josh Rogin, “University Rejects Chinese Communist Party-linked Influence Efforts on Campus,” January 14, 2018, The Washington Post.


Lawrence Rosen, “A Liberal Defense of Tribalism: There’s Nothing Wrong With Political Tribes That Can’t Be Fixed With What’s Right With Them,” January 2018, 


Paul J. Saunders and Kristin M. Lord, “As U.S.-Russia Tensions Rise, Rekindle People-to-People Relations,” January 10, 2018, The National Interest.


Aaron Smith and Monica Anderson, “Social Media Use in 2018: A Majority of Americans Use Facebook and YouTube, But Young Adults Are Especially Heavy Users of Snapchat and Instagram,” March 1, 2018, Pew Research Center.


Ray Smith, “The Dissent Channel,” November 2017, Letter to the Editor, Foreign Service Journal.


Ian Thomas, “British Council on Evaluating Arts & Soft Power Programming,” January 19, 2018, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.


Nahal Toosi, “State, Defense Agree on $40M Fund to Fight Foreign Propaganda,” February 26, 2018; “Tillerson Scales Back State Department Restructuring Plan,”February 7, 2018, Politico.


Hans J. Tuch, “The Voice of America and Public Diplomacy,” December 2017, American Diplomacy.


Matt Wallin, “Reductions To Exchanges In The FY2019 Budget Are Shortsighted,” February 12, 2018, American Security Project.


Julie Zauzmer, “The Challenges Facing Sam Brownback, the Next U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom,” January 25, 2018, The Washington Post.


Gem From The Past


Walter Lippmann, Liberty and the News, (Harcourt, Brace, and Howe, 1920, republished by Princeton University Press with a foreward by Ronald Steel in 2007).  Shortly before he wrote Public Opinion nearly a century ago, now a classic in media, journalism, and public diplomacy courses, Lippmann published a small less remembered volume on the role of the press in a democracy.  His core argument in Liberty and the News is that the press threatens democracy and abdicates its basic responsibility to report facts and seek truth whenever journalism is “confused with the work of preachers, revivalists, prophets, and agitators.”  The goal, Lippmann wrote, without illusion it could be fully achieved, is “disinterested reporting” in which journalists “serve no cause, no matter how good.” 


In an era of “fake news” and merged news and entertainment, Lippmann’s views are getting a fresh look.  See Roy Peter Clark, “Walter Lippmann on Liberty and the News: A Century-Old Mirror For Our Troubled Times,” Poynter Institute, March 1, 2018.  (Courtesy of Donna Oglesby)  Clark’s assessments of Lippmann’s book point to rich insights with contemporary relevance:  “Public confusion from the helter-skelter flow of news.”  “Escape from the responsibility of misinformation.”  “The problem of fixing truth when the new is complex and subtle.”  “How the habits of news gatherers can limit access to truth.”  “Propaganda and its consequences defined.”  “Danger of the demagogue.”  “Birth of the echo chamber.”  “Why words matter to journalism and democracy.”  “What it means to fight for truth.”


An archive of Diplomacy's Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites (2002-present) is maintained at George Washington University's Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.  Current issues are also posted by the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy, the Public Diplomacy Council, and


RWR Advisory: Belt and Road at a Glance

Belt and Road at a Glance

Subscribe to the Belt and Road Monitor

Top Developments

China National Machinery Industry Corporation, commonly known as Sinomach, has agreed to build a $845 million, 255-mile railway across Iran, building upon a sustained period of growth for Chinese investment in Iran that accelerated after Xi Jinping’s state visit to the country in January 2016. The railway will link the cities of Tehran, Hamedan and Sanandaj. China Civil Engineering Construction, a subsidiary of CRCC, is currently also building a 263-km railway line from Kermanshah to Khosravi. According to Chinese entrepreneur Lin Zuoru, who owns factories in Iran, “Iran is at the center of everything.”On March 23, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced that foreign direct investment by Chinese companies in 50 Belt and Road countries fell by 30.9% year-on-year. While the Ministry stated that this number covers investment across all industries, it did not specify the precise countries covered. In another year-end performance statistic, the Ministry of Commerce found that year-on-year activity was down 1.9% across 59 Belt and Road countries. Confusion over definitions for Belt and Road and the basis for these sorts of official statistics is further highlighted by Chinese state media, which hasstated that the number of Belt and Road countries has risen to 69. While this makes quantifying Chinese Belt and Road performance difficult, RWR’s data corroborates the general trend put forward, showing that overall investment fell 24.5% from year-end 2016 to year-end 2017.In a sign of a readjusted policy towards Central and Eastern Europe, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called the Visegrad countries – SlovakiaHungary,Czech Republic, and Poland – “the most dynamic force within the EU.” Thiscomment comes as some have observed a reassessment by China of the importance it has given to its “16+1” China-Central and Eastern Europe summits, where a commitment was essentially being made to all 16 countries comprising this region. Chinese projects, however, continue in these countries: on March 13, China’s Zijin Mining Group expressed interest in entering a strategic partnership with the Serbian government to invest $100 million in copper mining RTB Bor, which is undergoing a restructuring process to write-off debt.Ties between Russia and China appear to be strengthening, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s upcoming March 27-28 visit to Moscow expected to accelerate planning for President Putin’s state visit to China, which is anticipated to coincide with the June 2018 Shanghai Cooperation Meeting in Qingdao. In this context, on March 12, China National Nuclear Corporation became the first foreign investor in Russia’s uranium mining industry aftersigning an agreement with the Russia-China Investment Fund for Regional Development and Rosatom subsidiaries ARMZ Uranium and Priargunsky Industrial Mining and Chemical Union to develop a uranium mining project in Siberia. However, it is not full steam ahead: there is much to be sorted out regarding CEFC’s pending acquisition of a 14% stake in Rosneft and some strain in relations over the surprise fall from grace of the Chinese energy giant and its chairman, Ye Jianming.Chinese investment in the UAE saw two major steps forward. On March 22, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) agreed to a $1.18 billion deal for stakes in the Umm Shaif Nasr and Lower Zakum oil and natural gas concessions, adding to its 8% stake in an onshore oil concession acquired in February 2017. Then, on March 24, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade signed an MoU with Abu Dhabi Ports, the administrator of the UAE’s Khalifa Port, to strengthen the two countries’ trade relationship. The agreement also encouraged Chinese investment in the Khalifa Industrial Zone (KIZAD) and Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone (KPFTZ). China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Construction Management already has a 50-year agreement with Abu Dhabi Ports to develop 23.7 million sq. ft. of KIZAD. COSCO Shipping Ports has a 35-year concession agreement with Abu Dhabi Ports as well, and is currently building the $700 million container terminal at Khalifa Port.The Export-Import Bank of China approved two major loans in recent weeks. It will fund China Water Electric's construction of the 450MW Souapiti hydroelectric plant in Guinea, which it initially agreed to finance over a decade ago, before political instability in Guinea stalled the project. The bank also agreed on March 13 to provide $300 million in financing for the development of an agribusiness services center in Myanmar, as part of an effort to provide the country with precision technology and technical assistance.Reports emerged on March 23 that Vietnam had halted an oil drilling project off its southeastern coast. The project is located at the “Red Emperor,” which is part of the 07/03 block in the Nam Con Son basin, 440 km from Vung Tau and close to China’s contested "nine-dash line.” Spanish energy firm Repsol, which has the license to the block, is now at risk of losing $200 million that they had already invested in the project. Reports suggest that the work was halted to avoid confrontation with China. In July 2017, Repsol was also ordered by the Vietnamese government to halt its development drilling work on Block 136/03, which is adjacent to “Red Emperor.” This decision was allegedly made after Vietnamese outposts were threatened by the Xi administration. This means that twice in the past twelve months the Chinese government has pressured Vietnam to put two major drilling projects on hold.On March 15, Chilean financial regulator SVS approved China Southern Power Grid (CSG)'s $1.3 billion acquisition of a 27.7% stake in Transelec SA. The purchase is significant as Transelec SA operates approximately 10,000 km of electricity transmission lines throughout Chile and is said to control around 85% of the Chilean market. The State Grid Corporation of China had also participated in the tender process, but withdrew before the end of 2017, when CSG won preliminary approval. The final stake was 2.3% less than the initial bid considered by State Grid and CSG, and may have been reduced in order to gain regulatory approval. The regulatory approval comes two months after the January 2018 China-CELAC Forum, which was held in Santiago, and may signal warming ties between Chile and China. At the forum, China claimed that Latin America was “eager” to join the Belt and Road Initiative.Data from IntelTrak, March 12 - March 26.Subscribe to Inteltrak

What They're Saying

Foreign Policy report on Eurasian perspectives on Belt and Road

"We found an eagerness to participate in projects that support national development, but deep resistance to any westward or northern expansion of China’s practices, ideas, or population…neither [Russia nor Kazakhstan] hopes that China’s power will increase with its investments."

Speaking at the China Development High-Level Forum on Made in China

"More and more countries have been responsive to the Belt and Road Initiative. We absolutely will not export excess production capacity abroad. This is China’s bottom line. In regards to excess iron and steel production capacity, we will destroy the equipment and factories to fulfill this objective."

Report examining debt implications of Belt and Road

"If the [Belt and Road] initiative follows Chinese practices to date for infrastructure financing, which often entail lending to sovereign borrowers, then BRI raises the risk of debt distress in some borrower countries. We conclude that eight countries are at particular risk of debt distress based on an identified pipeline of project lending associated with BRI."

By the Numbers

Data from RWR's IntelTrak tool

Data from RWR's IntelTrak tool

Domestic Developments

Policy Guidance

March 17: Under the 19th Party Central Committee’s State Institutional Reform Plan, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) will merge. Their functions drafting key regulations will be moved to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), which will take on the role of monetary policymaker in addition to its existing role as policy advisor.March 17: Also under the new Reform Plan, the newly-formed National Agency for International Development and Cooperation (SAIDC) will integrate the foreign aid functions of the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This change is designed to create one entity responsible for formulating the strategic guidelines and policies driving China’s foreign assistance programs as well as supervising and assessing their implementation. Ensuring the success of the country’s Belt and Road projects is considered within the merged entity’s mandate.March 21: People’s Bank of China (PBOC) released new rules on market access and supervision for foreign third-party e-payment companies, in an effort to open up China’s payment service market and introduce competition as well as to standardize the treatment of domestic and foreign capital. According to the rules, overseas non-financial institutions providing e-payment services for domestic Chinese transactions (or cross-border transactions with Chinese entities) will be required to establish foreign-invested enterprises in China, in accordance with PBOC regulatory requirements. The foreign-invested enterprises will also be required to store and process all personal and financial client information in China.

Regional Developments


March 13: China’s CITIC Construction signed an agreement with the MyanmarRice Federation (MRF) and Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corporation (MAPCO) to jointly develop a $300 million Agribusiness Services Center. The project will be financed primarily with a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China, and implemented in 33 townships across Myanmar to provide precision technology and technical assistance for the improvement of post-harvest conditions.March 15: China’s Alibaba Cloud launched its first data center in Indonesia, offering the country its first global cloud platform. The data center features a big data facility, networking and security services, and products for small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs).March 16: The Southeast Asia-Japan 2 consortium (SJC2) signed an agreement with Japan’s NEC Corporation to build a high-performance cable that complements the existing SJC cable. The new 10,500-km cable will link 11 landing stations across SingaporeThailandCambodiaVietnamHong KongTaiwan, China, Korea, and Japan. SJC2 companies include China Mobile International (CMI), Cambodia’s Chuan Wei, Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom, Japan’s KDDI, and Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel). Facebook will also play a role in backing the project.

South Asia

March 12: China's CECEP Solar Energy Technology (Zhenjiang) received a contract to supply modules for the Chennai 35MW centralized power plant inIndia. The plant will be developed by Indian contractors.March 13: Alibaba’s affiliate, Ant Financial Services Group, signed a strategic partnership agreement with Pakistan’s Telenor Group to acquire a 45% stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank (TMB) for $184.5 million. TMB launched Easypaisa, Pakistan’s first and largest digital financial services platform, in 2009. Ant Financial plans to help develop Easypaisa’s mobile payment service using Alipay technology.March 15: China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) signed a shareholders agreement with Pakistan’s Hub Power Company (Hubco) and Fauji Fertilizer Company (FFC) to jointly build a 330MW coal-fired power project in Thar under a special purpose company, Thar Energy Limited. The agreement, which is under the CPEC framework, is subject to corporate and regulatory approvals.March 15: China’s Chongqing Water Turbine Works (CWTW) signed an engineering, procurement, construction, and financing (EPCF) contract withNepal’s Peoples Energy Public Limited (PEPL) to develop the 48.8MW Khimti-2 hydropower station project. CWTW will also provide $88 million in financing.March 20: China National Technical Import and Export Corporation (CNTIC) and the China National Corporation for Overseas Economic Cooperation (CCOEC) were awarded an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract by Bangladesh’s Ashuganj Power Station Company Limited (APSCL) for the construction of a 420MW coal-fired power plant.

Middle East and North Africa

March 12: China National Heavy Industry Corporation (Sinomach) signed a cooperation agreement with the government of Iran to build a 470-km railway connecting Tehran, Hamadan, and Sanandaj. Sinomach will serve as the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor for the project.March 18: China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) announced that Chinese banks will extend a $2.5 billion loan to financeconstruction of the Central Business District (CBD) in Egypt’s new administrative capital. Egypt’s Ministry of Housing, Utilities, and Urban Development will be responsible for the remaining $500 million, backed by a sovereign repayment guarantee. CSCEC will build residential buildings, hotels, business complexes, and a skyscraper for the CBD.March 22: China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed an agreementwith Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) to take a 10% stake in theUAE’s Umm Shaif Nasr offshore oil concession and Lower Zakum concession. CNPC paid a total of $1.075 billion for the combined stakes. CNPC already holdsan 8% stake in Abu Dhabi’s onshore oil concession, operated by Adnoc Onshore, acquired last February.March 24: China Development Bank (CDB) and Morocco’s BMCE Bank of Africa (BOA) signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance bilateral trade and investment through infrastructure programs, car manufacturing, and technology parks. BOA plans to open a branch in Shanghai in the near future.March 24: Abu Dhabi Ports, administrator of the UAE’s Khalifa Port, signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade to strengthen the two countries’ trade relationship andencourage Chinese investment in the Khalifa Industrial Zone (KIZAD) and Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone (KPFTZ). The signing took place during KIZAD Business Week.March 25: China’s SAIC Motor is in talks with Egypt’s Ministry of Trade and Industry to build a car manufacturing factory that would serve as a hub for SAIC exports to regional countries that have free trade agreements with Egypt.

Sub-Saharan Africa

March 14: The Export-Import Bank of China approved a $1.3 billion loan to the government of Guinea to finance construction of the 450MW Souapiti hydroelectric plant, which is being built by China Water Electric (CWE). ExIm Bank had originally agreed to finance the project over a decade ago, but construction was stalled by political instability in Guinea.March 19: China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) and TBEA Shenyang Power Design Institute jointly won a bid to design the third phase of the TBEA Zambia power transmission project, which includes the 228-km Kasama-Nakonde overhead transmission line, 330kV Mporokoso substation, 330kV Kasama substation, and 400kV Nakonde substation. The completed project will allow Zambia to receive electricity during the dry season, and transport surplus power to Tanzania during the flood season.March 23: Five development agreements were signed during the president ofCameroon’s first state visit to China. These include an economic and technical cooperation agreement, a memorandum of understanding on human resources development, a protocol agreement to reinforce cooperation on infrastructural development, a capacity-building framework agreement on production, and a concessional loan agreement from the Export-Import Bank of China to finance the second phase of a water supply project in Cameroon. China also pledged to forgive an undisclosed amount of Cameroon’s debt. This is significant, as China indicated at the end of last year that bilateral relations were hindered by payment delays on project financing debt.


March 13: China’s Zijin Mining Group has expressed interest in entering a strategic partnership with the Serbian government to invest $100 million in copper mining company, Mining-Smelting Bor Basin (RTB Bor). RTB Bor is undergoing a restructuring process to write-off debt, and Serbia will launch a tender for the company’s privatization this spring.March 14: China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) won a $15.6 million bid to carry out dredging in two lots at the Chornomorsk seaport in Ukraine. CHEC previously completed another dredging project in Ukraine’s Odesa region at the Yuzhny seaport.March 16: Bulgaria’s energy minister announced that China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) submitted a letter of interest in financing the construction of Belene nuclear power plant in Bulgaria. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has also indicated interest in providing project financing. The plant was originally initiated in 2008 with Rosatom subsidiary, Atomstroyexport, but was subsequently cancelled for a variety of reasons leading to controvery and dispute with Russia.March 20: China signed a $3.2 million grant agreement with Bosnia’s finance ministry, with the use of funds still reportedly to be determined by Bosnia’s Council of Ministers. The two countries are expected to sign another follow-on agreement shortly to define future cooperation on specific projects.March 23: Belgian grid operator Elia announced a decision to exercise its pre-emptive right to buy a 20% stake in Germany’s 50Hertz network operator for $1.2 billion, edging out State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), which had made a play to take the ownership stake from Australian infrastructure fund IFM Investors. The SGCC bid was closely watched by German politicians, whoviewed the asset as having strategic significance. Elia, which operates in Belgium and Germany, will own 80% of 50Hertz after the acquisition is completed.

Russia and Eurasia

March 12: March 12: China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) became the first foreign investor in Russia's uranium mining industry after signing anagreement with the Russia-China Investment Fund for Regional Developmentand two Rosatom subsidiaries, ARMZ Uranium and Priargunsky Industrial Mining and Chemical Union (PIMCU). CNNC will invest $281 million and RCIF will invest $44 million to develop a uranium mining project in Siberia’s Zabaikalsky region.

Latin American and the Caribbean

March 15: China’s Southern Power Grid (CSG) received the necessary regulatory approvals for its $1.3 billion acquisition of Brookfield Infrastructure’s 27.7% stake in Chile’s Transelec. Transelec is Chile’s largest power transmission company.March 17: China agreed to provide Cuba with assistance worth $36 million to carry out six projects involving livestock, renewable energy, and hydraulic infrastructure. The package will include equipment for Cuba’s livestock recovery program, technological modernization assistance, raw materials for photovoltaic solar panels, and machinery for aqueducts. Chinese technicians will work with local experts to install necessary equipment and machinery.March 21: Huawei Technologies signed a partnership agreement with Spain’sTelefónica to provide “big data as-a-service” products over Telefónica’s cloud infrastructure in Latin America. The two companies will also establish a big data and analytic applications marketplace.March 22: Chinese companies and institutions, including Huawei, Wuhan Fiberhome International Technologies, Haier New Energy Company, and GRG Banking, showcased new technologies at Cuba’s 17th International Convention and Fair (Informática 2018).