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Commentaries by Sajjad Ashraf

Sajjad Ashraf

Adjunct Professor, National University of Singapore

Sajjad Ashraf is an adjunct professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He was a member of Pakistan Foreign Service 1973-2008.
  • Nov 09 , 2018

    Following years of disputes and suspicion, China and ASEAN recently completed their first landmark maritime field training exercises. The fact that they took place is a testimony to the broader changes taking place in China’s relations with the ASEAN.

  • Mar 02 , 2018

    The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $62 billion China-funded ‘flagship project’ within China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is fast heading towards the closure of deals on ‘early harvest’ projects. With five energy projects commissioned and several more on course, these should help lift Pakistan’s economic output.

  • Sep 14 , 2017

    The U.S. may be the strongest state militarily, but it needs regional players like China, Iran, Russia and Pakistan to make success of its policy choices on Afghanistan. Operationally it needs to rely on Pakistani ports and road networks to resupply American troops in Afghanistan.

  • May 18 , 2017

    Pakistan’s deep-sea port Gwadar, which the Chinese built and are now operating under a 40-year agreement, is a key part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The U.S. and India are looking at the Chinese initiative with skepticism, believing that the twin initiatives are meant more to secure China’s geo-strategic aims.

  • Jan 21 , 2017

    The CPEC was expected to bring various units of Pakistan together in an integrated economic and communication framework but has instead fanned provincialism and discord. Moreover, senior economists in Pakistan are now increasingly voicing their concern over the terms of financing from China, which is mostly shrouded in mystery.

  • Dec 14 , 2016

    President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States will quit the Trans-Pacific Partnership kills the stillborn deal. For the countries of Southeast Asia who joined this U.S. led pact, it is a moment of reflection over their policy choices, making them seek accommodation with a more certain China rather than a wavering U.S.

  • Nov 18 , 2016

    China and Pakistan are forming an ““iron friendship” through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and it is becoming widely influential in the region. Although negotiations with the Pakistani government have been effectively turned over to the military, Pakistan and China hope to develop, the coastline, particularly port and naval cities like Gwadar and Omara. Pakistan has long eyed developing Gwadar as a bridgehead for commercial activity, and the robust military relationship between China and Pakistan and the unfolding strategic power play in the Indian Ocean add a huge security dimension to the CPEC.

  • Sep 05 , 2016

    While the U.S. calls for respect of the given ruling under the Law of the Sea Convention, of which the U.S. is not a signatory, none of the predicted responses from China and the Philippines have come true. On the contrary, both have opted for ‘strategic restraint,’ choosing to use dialogue in order to find common ground.

  • Jul 20 , 2016

    Though The Hague ruling pertains to the Philippines-China dispute, it will bolster similar claims by other states against China’s nine-dash line; it will increase pressure on China to seek a negotiated resolution to the overlapping claims; and it will circumscribe China’s SCS claims. In response, China must assure the ASEAN states of its benign intentions, dispelling impressions of hegemonic intentions.

  • May 03 , 2016

    The U.S. military is back in the Philippines after a fourteen-year hiatus, sending the message that it will work with its allies to pushback on Beijing’s expanding presence in the disputed SCS, while also reinforcing belief amongst the Chinese and many others that U.S. is only raising military stakes to thwart China’s rise.

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