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Wednesday Seminar | Deciphering the Global Development Initiative: China’s New Pathway for Global South? | 20 September, 2023 @ 6:30 P.M. IST | Zoom Webinar

20 Sep 2023
Ms. Samantha Custer, Ms. Anthea Mulakala, Ms. Linda Calabrese
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Time: 6:30 PM

China’s Global Development Initiative (GDI) has completed two years this month. Unveiled by Xi Jinping in his address at the 76th United Nations General Assembly in September 2021, the GDI has sought to build on the organization’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals for Stronger, Greener, and Healthier Global Development. Within one year of its announcement, over 60 countries have come on board as members of Group of Friends of the GDI. This, along with the Global Security Initiative and Global Civilizational Initiative, has given weight to China’s foreign policy discourse over the last couple of years. Dissecting the GDI in detail, this panel discussion will explore its goals, the priority areas, the discourse centering on relevant issues of sustainable development, and the expected outcomes. Delving into specific regions, the panel will analyze the GDI’s actual operation, role of local stakeholders entailed within it, and the mobilization of resources by China in fulfilling the objectives. Discussing the geopolitical context and the larger implications for the Global South, the panel will examine whether the GDI is a larger extension of the Belt and Road Initiative, or rather, it seeks to complement it.


About the Speakers

Ms. Samantha Custer  is the Director of Policy Analysis at AidData—a research lab at the College of William & Mary’s Global Research Institute in Virginia, USA. Ms. Custer’s research examines how great powers deploy economic and soft power tools to advance their interests. She teaches courses for the Whole of Government Center of Excellence at William & Mary on how to measure and monitor the influence playbooks of China and Russia. She has published numerous studies on China’s growing global influence in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Asia Society Policy Institute, the Ford Foundation, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Bureau of Asian Research, among other institutions. She holds a Master of Science in Foreign Service and a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University. Ms. Custer has a 20-year track record of leading teams and supporting evidence-based decision-making as an international relations scholar-practitioner.

Ms. Anthea Mulakala  is an accomplished development leader, manager, and policy specialist with more than 25 years of experience living and working in Asia. She has led and managed diverse teams, both directly and remotely, to deliver high-impact programs in reproductive health, conflict prevention and peacebuilding, governance, and regional cooperation. Over the last decade, she has honed her expertise on Asian development cooperation, particularly understanding how rising powers, such as China and India, are transforming the 21st century aid and development landscape. In addition to developing and implementing programs, she also writes, publishes, and speaks extensively on these issues. She also leads the Asia Foundation’s Future Skills Alliance, a broad coalition of public and private sector partners working together to deliver future skills at-scale to the region’s most marginalized. Prior to joining the Asia Foundation, she worked for The World Bank, UK DFID, the City of Melbourne, and South Asia Partnership.

Ms. Linda Calabrese is Research Fellow in the International Development Programme at ODI, London, and a Leverhulme Doctoral Fellow at the Lau China Institute, King’s College London. A development economist by training, her research interests include industrialisation and economic transformation, trade and investment. Her research focuses on Global China, including China’s economic footprint in low- and middle-income countries, its role in global development and China-Africa issues. Prior to returning to the UK, Linda worked in East Africa for years, first as a civil servant for the Ugandan government, and then for a research organisation supporting the government of Rwanda. She holds an MSc from SOAS, University of London, and she is currently completing her doctoral studies at King’s College London, where she looks at Chinese investment in Africa. 

About the Chair

Dr. Anand P. Krishnan is a Fellow at the Centre of Excellence for Himalayan Studies, Shiv Nadar Institution of Eminence, Delhi National Capital Region, and a Visiting Associate Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi. His research interests are labour relations in China and India, labour and supply chains in the Global South, state-society relations, and labour's interface with urban questions in East and South Asia. He was a Visiting Faculty at the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. In the past, he has also been a Non-Resident Fellow at the India China Institute, The New School, New York City (under their China-India Scholar Leaders Initiative), and a Visiting Fellow, at the Harvard-Yenching Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.


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