The Newsletter 96 Autumn 2023

IIAS – The Global Network of Knowledge and Connectivity

Mehdi Amineh

In 1956, the Dutch historian Jan Romein anticipated that the end of European Empires and Asian resistance against it would end in the unanticipated ‘unification of the world’. The founding of IIAS and its blossoming since then has substantiated his foresight.

The title of my contribution summarizes why IIAS has become so important in my scientific work. The organization, or better the worldwide network among scholars, facilitated me to design and realize six joint research projects between about 20 national and foreign universities and research centers from Asia, Africa, Australia, and Latin and South America. These projects related to Central Eurasia and the Middle East and North Africa between 2002 and 2007; comparative studies on European Union Energy Security and China; the Geopolitical economy of the Belt and Road Initiative between 2006 and 2021; and recently, the EU-China Energy Transition Challenges (2022-present).

The Energy Programme Asia (EPA), which I founded in 2006, has taken a central role in the realization of these joint research projects and publication of their results in ten books and around 81 articles in several peer-reviewed journals. A selection of publications include: (1) Central Eurasia in Global Politics, Conflict, Security, and Development (2003-2005); (2) Greater Middle East in Global Politics: Social Science Perspective on the Changing Geography of World Politics (2007); (3) The Globalization of Energy, the European Union and China (2010); (4) Secure Oil and Alternative Energy: The Geopolitics of Energy Paths of China and the European Union (2012); (5) Transnationalization of Chinese National Oil Companies and the European Union Energy Security (2014); (6) Geopolitical Economy of Energy and Environment: China and the European Union (2017); and (7) The China-led Belt and Road Initiative and its Reflections: The Crisis of Hegemony and Changing Global Orders (2022).

These joint research projects were financed by various national and international funds, including the Royal Netherlands Academy of the Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the Dutch Research Council (NWO), the Macau Foundation, and the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS).

The sixth and current joint research project is between EPA-IIAS and the Institute of European Studies of Macau in cooperation with the School of Government and International Affairs of Durham University. It is titled Energy Transition Challenges: Comparing China and the European Union. It started in September 2022 to study: (1) the approaches of China and the European Union to fossil fuel supply security, their policies regarding the transition to renewable energy, and the challenges associated with moving to a clean energy-based economy; (2) China’s BRI activities in the energy and infrastructure sectors of selected countries and regions in Europe (EU and Central and East Europe), Asia (China, West, Central, and South Asia), Africa (Egypt and Morocco), and South America (Brazil); and (3) the related geopolitical and geoeconomic risks and challenges.


Mehdi Amineh is Senior Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and Coordinator for Energy Programme Asia (EPA) at IIAS.