ISDP Welcomes Dr. Jianjun Ding as Guest Researcher

Dr. Jianjun Ding joined ISDP as a visiting researcher in October 2015 and she will stay with us for 14 months. She works for the Pakistan Study Center of Sichuan University, China, and her main research interests encompass South Asia, especially Pakistani politics, its foreign policy, and the relationship between China and Pakistan. She is the editor of the Pakistan Research Report, 2014, as well as the author of a number of research papers, including: “Pak-Saudi Relations: Implications for China’s Diplomacy in the Indian Ocean,” “Pakistan’s Role in Afghanistan Reconstruction after the War,” and “China-Pakistan Relations Under One Belt, One Road Perspective.” Dr. Ding received a PhD in World History from Sichuan University, and an MA in International Relations from Yun Nan University.

ISDP sat down with Dr. Ding to ask her a few questions.

Can you tell us more about your professional background?

I work for the Pakistan Study Center at Sichuan University in China, where I assist Prof. Jidong Chen, the director of the center. The Pakistan Study Center is financed by both the Chinese government and the Pakistan Ministry for Foreign Affairs. On a daily basis, we closely monitor the political situation in Pakistan and provide policy advice to the Chinese government on relevant events in Pakistan that may have repercussions within China. We host a cohort of twenty students, both from Pakistan and China, and our working languages are Chinese, English, and Urdu.

Why Pakistan?

Pakistan has always been of strategic importance to China, and the two countries have enjoyed strong diplomatic ties ever since Pakistan recognized the PRC in 1950. During the Sino-Indian war, the two nations negotiated their territorial disputes peacefully and Pakistan was one of China’s key allies against India. More recently, Pakistan’s importance for China has shifted to the economic realm, due to the location of the country presiding over an economic corridor that connects China with the Middle East and Europe. The two countries offer a model of friendship based on the principles of equality and mutual interests, and they have extended their areas of cooperation to a variety of fields, including the reconstruction process that is taking place in Afghanistan after the U.S.-led war on terror.

Speaking of terrorism, what is your opinion of China’s involvement against ISIS, in the wake of the recent killing of a Chinese national, Fan Jinghui?

Both the Chinese government and everyone in China stand firm in their fight against terrorist groups and terrorist crimes of all forms. President Xi Jinping recently defined terrorism as the common enemy of mankind and a threat to human civilization. However, I personally think that China should not intervene in Syria at the moment, for a variety of reasons. Now that the U.S. and Russia have already deployed troops to the country, I believe that a late intervention from China’s side would just raise a few eyebrows and attract international criticism. Furthermore, we need to distinguish terrorism from violence. What just happened in Syria, with ISIS killing a Chinese citizen, is more of an act of isolated violence than a terrorist attack. Finally, China has several terrorist cells within itself, so we should direct our efforts in the fight against these groups first before intervening in the internal affairs of other countries.

How did you hear about ISDP and what are you going to do here?

I first heard about ISDP five years ago from one of my instructors at Yunnan University, Professor Chienyang Li. He introduced me to the work of ISDP and its director, Dr. Niklas Swanström. I am glad I have the opportunity to work with the ISDP team on subjects that are of the utmost interest to me and my research institute in China. In particular, I will dedicate my time at ISDP to the study of the cooperation between China and Pakistan in the post-war reconstruction of Afghanistan. Being able to research this topic here in Europe is extremely advantageous. Great Britain has traditionally been heavily involved in the economic development of Pakistan ever since its independence from the British Raj in 1947, and, more recently, the European Union has played a very important role in Afghanistan’s ongoing reconstruction after the war on terrorism. Being here in Stockholm will allow me to work closely with Western scholars, learn more about their research methods, and access primary sources on Afghanistan and Pakistan dating back to their colonial period.

 Thanks for talking to us and welcome to ISDP.