Developmental Peace? Perceptions of China’s Engagement in Pakistan and Afghanistan (AsiaPeace)

Led by Ilaria Carrozza

Apr 2023 – Jun 2026

Through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s investments and development aid are now spread across over 140 countries. Although China has traditionally claimed to pursue a foreign policy guided by non-interference, BRI projects are increasingly implemented in countries with high levels of conflict and insecurity. This had led Beijing to become more active in peace and security activities abroad.

Its engagement in such activities has so far been characterized as the “developmental peace”, a model of state-led development and economic growth that privileges sovereignty and the legitimacy and stability of the government over political reforms and democratization. Yet, we know little about whether and how China can maintain this hands-off approach in countries affected by conflict and internal tensions or how local stakeholders perceive and respond to China’s engagement.

This project examines China’s developmental peace approach in Pakistan and Afghanistan from the perspective of local stakeholders. Combining stakeholder interviews and monitoring of traditional and social media, AsiaPeace offers an innovative comparative analysis of how a large-scale foreign presence impacts political, social and conflict dynamics, domestically and geopolitically.

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