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Autumn 2017

CHINA-BENGAL TRADITIONAL RELATIONS IN THE PRE-EUROPEAN TIMES: AN ENQUIRY
MD. SAFIQUL ISLAM
The paper focuses on the nature of traditional relations between China and Bengal in the pre-European times. Cultural exchange, trade, and diplomatic relations between the two countries had existed since the ancient period, particularly, during the Han, Tang, Yuan, and Ming dynasties of China. The ancient Silk Road and Maritime Road facilitated them in establishing their cultural, commercial, and diplomatic relations. This paper finds out the nature of bilateral traditional relations between China and Bengal before European merchants came to Bengal. In particular, it explores cultural, diplomatic, and trade connectivity between the two countries in the period. The paper concludes that warm bilateral relations between China and Bengal prevailed in the period and that the regions were connected with each other through the ancient Silk Road and Maritime Road. Significantly, political and diplomatic relations between the two regions reached their highest level during the Ming dynasty of China and Muslim rule in Bengal.

IS CPEC REALLY A GIFT? CHINA’S MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION AND ITS RISING ROLE AS A DEVELOPMENT ACTOR IN PAKISTAN
MURAD ALI
With the rise of China as a leading development actor at the global stage, especially following the launch of President Xi’s signature foreign economic plan under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), there is an unprecedented focus on China’s model of international development financing. This paper aims to unpack China’s foreign aid policy and practice. Unlike traditional donors belonging to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), where most development assistance is in the form of grants prioritising social sectors, China’s model of economic cooperation is a blend of aid, investment, and concessional loans. Similarly, unlike most traditional aid donors, China does not attach specific policy conditionalities while providing aid and concessional loans and also avoids interference in the domestic affairs of its development partners. Focusing specifically on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) within the framework of the ‘gift theory’ and the financing model of the initiative, the paper illustrates that besides bringing socio-economic benefits to Pakistan, the corridor is aimed at addressing China’s domestic concerns and bringing development to its less developed regions. Mostly, China’s aid and development financing are demand-driven, where partner countries’ priorities are addressed. At the same time, there is also evidence both in the existing academic literature, as well as in the case of its increasing engagements with Pakistan under CPEC, that China’s trade and commercial interests are also promoted along with its political and strategic objectives.

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL AND ITS FUTURE UNDER TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
SHAMS UZ ZAMAN
The successful nuclear deal signed between Iran and P5+1 nations, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), limited Iran’s nuclear activities, placing these under the watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The deal has not only increased Iran’s breakout time to develop nuclear weapons to more than a decade but has also diminished the threat of Iran-Israel confrontation. The JCPOA only applies to Iran’s nuclear programme and does not take into account other issues like Iran’s missile programme and its role in the Syrian conflict. Iran has used this deal to influence the situation in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen in its favour, which antagonised several regional states, including Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. The newly elected Trump administration in Washington has threatened to scrap the JCPOA if Iran would not stop its other controversial activities, especially its missile development programme and interference in other parts of the region, including Syria, Iraq, and Palestine. Israel and Saudi Arabia are in favour of scrapping the deal and support a tougher line against Iran. The EU, China, and Russia are supportive of the deal and fear that in case the deal is terminated, it would create more instability in the region, besides encouraging Iran to resume its controversial nuclear activities, thus, drastically cutting down the breakout time to develop a nuclear device.

MARITIME FUTURE OF THE INDIAN OCEAN: NEED FOR A REGIONAL COOPERATIVE SECURITY ARCHITECTURE
SANA SAGHIR
The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has morphed into the geopolitical epicentre of the 21st century. The shifting global balance of power, evolving traditional and non-traditional security challenges, and a vigorous ensuing arms race are the harbingers of renewed tensions in the Indian Ocean. The IOR is replete with multifarious issues that cannot be rectified or resolved by any single political entity. To ensure stability across the oceanic sphere of the IOR, a coordinated and sustained effort towards cooperation at a regional as well as the international level is the only way forward. Order at sea can be ensured through cooperative mechanisms amongst states driven by their own national interest and stakes in the region.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” —William Arthur Ward

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Regional Studies is a quarterly journal. It is Higher Education Commission Recognized peer-reviewed journal. It covers a wide spectrum including foreign and internal affairs, economy and industry, science and technology, sociocultural aspects and security related issues. The countries that fall within the purview of the study are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives in South Asia, Afghanistan, Iran and the Gulf States in Southwest Asia and five republics of Central Asia, beside China and Indian Ocean.