This policy brief by Jason Tower, AFSC's Quaker International Affairs Program Representative for East Asia, explores how China’s emergence as a key stakeholder in post-conflict and transitional settings is changing traditional donor dynamics, while opening new opportunities for positive collaboration. It identifies, based on AFSC’s work on the ground in Asia and Africa, that China’s involvement in such settings has rapidly outpaced the efforts of academics and policy advisors to understand dynamics on the ground. New initiatives to build centers for peace and conflict studies at prominent universities in China offer a potential means for helping to fill in this gap. As Chinese experts work to develop methodologies to assess conflict dynamics and “Do No Harm” around its outbound initiatives, a new space may emerge for traditional and emerging donors to collaborate in jointly assessing the collective impacts of their activities on conflict. On one level, such exercises will help fill a serious gap in China’s BRI: the lack of modalities to consider how rapidly expanding initiatives will impact fragile conflict dynamics. On another level, such efforts will inevitably enable practitioners to reframe many of the traditional debates within development studies as well as the growing dichotomy between China and Western states over whether economics or liberal politics are key to peace.
This policy brief was originally published by the Stimson Center as part of the Changing Landscape of Assistance to Conflict-Affected States: Emerging and Traditional Donors and Opportunities for Collaboration Project, in collaboration with the United States Institute of Peace.