On October 17 and 18, the Second USPIR (Union of School of Politics and International Relations) Dean’s forum hosted by the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University and the Institute for Belt and Road and Global Governance, was held at Fudan University.
More than 20 Deans and Directors of the School of Politics and International Relations from the universities along Eurasia countries delivered their points on the topics of "Belt and Road and Connectivity" and the "Role of the School of International Relations in Connectivity Building".
Professor Chen Zhimin, Vice president of Fudan University, said in his opening remarks, that Fudan University has been committed to promote relations with universities along the Belt and Road. The USPIR is a good multilateral mechanism for school-to-school communication. USPIR was founded in 2018, and this year, more colleges have joined it, and many new projects have also been put into the agenda. In this way, it is hoped that the ties with universities along the Belt and Road will be further strengthened, and thus promoting the discipline of politics and international relations.
On October 17, scholars’ discussion was focused on the topic "Belt and Road and Connectivity Building". Professor Su Changhe, Dean of School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University, explained the theory of connectivity. He believes that the theory of connectivity is more suitable for explaining the construction of China's Belt and Road than the theory of integration. He also pointed out that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) provides unique connectivity goods. People used to understand the BRI based on the concept of public goods. In fact, BRI provides connectivity goods rather than public goods. The concept of connectivity goods can help people to better understand the BRI.
Irina Novikova, Dean of School of International Relations, Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia, pointed out that EAEU and BRI are the two most important mechanisms for Russia. She believes that BRI will benefit Eurasian people and bring a prosperous future for the region.
Arie Soesilo, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Indonesia, argues that people-to-people exchanges is of great importance to international relations, USPIR offers an education platform to promote IR studies in all countries and therefore, promote people-to-people connectivity and mutual trust.
Ajay Patnaik, former Dean of School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, mentioned in his speech, that connectivity could be the cornerstone for stability and development of Central Asia, and at the same time help to promote intra-region communication. Mohammad Reza Takhshid, Dean of Faculty of Law & Political Science, University of Tehran, Iran, suggested that China should maintain an objective and sober attitude towards the ongoing projects, carefully assess the feasibility, investment and return of the project, and make sustainable plan.
Jeong Yeon Lee, Dean of Graduate School of International Studies, Yonsei University, Republic of Korea, noticed that global connectivity building is slowing down, and under this circumstance, Belt and Road connectivity building is meaningful for reversing the de-connectivity trend in the current world, and USPIR could be an useful platform for people-to-people connectivity.
Darko Nadic, Vice Dean of Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade, Serbia, refuted some western prejudice on BRI, he believes that the world should seize the opportunity provided by the Belt and Road.
Cheng-Chwee Kuik, Head of Centre for Asian Studies, Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), National University of Malaysia, Malaysia, focused on Malaysia, the Belt and Road, and Eurasia connectivity. Malaysia is considered the most active participate with the largest scale of participation and the fastest cooperation progress.
Nazir Hussain, Dean of School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Pakistan, pointed out that Pakistan respond to the BRI in the first place, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor covered all Pakistani provinces, paving the way for Pakistan’s economic development and help reshaping central-local relations.
Vira Somboon, Dean of Faculty of Political Science, College of Politics, Economics, and Globalization, Rangsit University, Thailand, came up with a new idea of "one belt, one road, one river", pointed out that it is necessary to promote the concept of community of common destiny, and emphasized the importance of the connectivity of the Lancang-Mekong River.
Besides, Deans and Heads from Graduate School of Public Policy, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan; Faculty of Development Studies, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Department of International Relations, University of Yangon, Myanmar; Department of Development Studies, Kathmandu University, Nepal; Faculty of Political Science, Lomonosov Moscow State University; Heads of Academic Affairs Department, University of Social Sciences and Humanities-VNU, Vietnam and other universities all expressed their thoughts and opinions on BRI and connectivity building.
On October 18, under the topic "Role of USPIR in Connectivity Building", the participants introduced their projects related to the BRI, USPIR’s achievements in the past year, as well as suggestions for the further development of the union.
In response to the question about where should USPIR go, Su Changhe, dean of the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University, quoted from Professor Soesilo's presentation Quality Education Development of USPIR, said that USPIR is a communication network for schools. The goal of the network is to promote the education quality of respective colleges through academic cooperation, and expand the influence of respective colleges in the region and across the world, that is the goal where USPIR wants to reach.
USPIR (Union of School of Politics and International Relations), was proposed by the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University and the Institute for Belt and Road and Global Governance, and was officially founded in 2018. USPIR was formed by 13 School of Politics and International Relations from 13 universities. The second USPIR Dean’s conference was held in 2019, and 21 colleges from 19 countries have joined the network.