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China’s Hengtong Group—leading a consortium of telecom companies from Hong Kong, Pakistan, and East Africa—will soon complete installation of the Pakistan East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) cable. Spanning the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, this cable will connect the three most populous continents of Asia, Europe and Africa, or what Halford Mackinder described as the “World Island.” The cable aims to provide these previously under-serviced regions with the shortest latency between routes and high-quality Internet, but what are China’s aims with the project and what benefits will it bring to partners in South Asia and Africa? This roundtable will discuss the technical, economic, and geopolitical implications of this flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Co-sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University, and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute.


Motolani Agbebi, University teacher, Faculty of Management and Business, University of Tampere (Finland)

Tayyab Safdar, Post-Doctoral Researcher, East Asia Centre & Department of Politics, University of Virginia

Roxana Vatanparast, Affiliate, Center on Global Legal Transformation, Columbia Law School


Nargis Kassenova, Senior Fellow, Program on Central Asia, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University

James Gethyn Evans, Communications Officer, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies; Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, Harvard University