CONNECTIVITY CONVERSATIONS #3: Infrastructure in high-risk environments: the case of the BRI

Webinar · 23.03.2023 14:30 - 15:30

China’s ’Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) has attracted significant attention, based on expectations that it will have a transformative impact in fields ranging from economic integration to geopolitics. One aspect that has so far been mostly overlooked is the BRI’s impact on conflict dynamics in fragile states throughout Africa and Asia. These countries have been able to attract significant amounts of Chinese infrastructure investments despite the high levels of conflict risks. This may turn out to be a boon for reconstruction and development efforts and promote sustainable peace, but also carries the danger of exacerbating conflicts through an uneven distribution of costs and benefits, increased corruption or geopolitical tensions.



Pascal Abb

Senior Researcher, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF)

Pascal Abb is a Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), focusing on how a rising China is interacting with global conflict environments. He is currently conducting a research project on the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on conflict states. His publications on this issue include "All geopolitics is local: the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor amidst overlapping centre–periphery relations“, Third World Quarterly (; and "Road to peace or bone of contention? The impact of the Belt and Road initiative on conflict states“ (with Robert Swaine and Ilya Jones), PRIF Report 1/2021 (


Tyyne Karjalainen

Research Fellow, FIIA

Tyyne Karjalainen is a Researcher in the European Union research programme at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Her research focuses on European Union foreign and security policy and differentiated integration in the EU. Her publications also cover peace-building, crisis management and peace mediation. Before joining FIIA, Karjalainen worked at the Civilian Security Sector Reform Component at the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM) in Ukraine, the Research and Development Unit of the Crisis Management Centre (CMC) Finland, and the Finnish Permanent Representation to the United Nations in New York. Karjalainen is a doctoral student in political science at the University of Turku focusing on the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood policies. She holds a degree from the Master’s Programme in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research at the University of Tampere.


Bart Gaens

Leading Researcher, FIIA

Bart Gaens is a Leading Researcher in the Global Security Research Programme at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. From May 2021 to April 2023, he leads a project on connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region. He also holds the title of Docent at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki. In the past he has worked as Project Director for the Center on US Politics and Power (CUSPP), as Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Helsinki, and as Specially Appointed Associate Professor at Osaka University, Japan. He has published widely on Europe-Asia inter-regionalism and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process, Japan’s foreign policy and regional role, India’s foreign policy and relations with the EU, domestic politics in Myanmar, and security-related issues in the Indo-Pacific region. He has also (co)edited volumes and reports on connectivity, EU-Asia relations, the US-China rivalry, transatlantic relations, and Japan’s search for strategic partnerships.