Sovereignty Expansion and Border Conflict through volumetric infrastructure- case of China

Authors: Shiuh-Shen Chien*, National Taiwan University, Zhong-Yen ZHENG, National Taiwan University
Topics: Political Geography, China, Pacific Rim
Keywords: volumetric infrastrcuture, border conflict, sovereignty expansion, China
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Cabinet Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The 21st century has witnessed the China’s international ambition, evidenced by the rising conflicts between China and its neighbor border countries. Existing literature on non-conventional security issues tends to focus on some territorial infrastructure such as establishment of border barriers and control stations in order to control and manage cross-border flows like citizens, migrates, ground water, drugs and alike. However, in recent years, China develops volumetric infrastructure to expand its sovereignty power by activing engaging in three-dimensional spaces like airspace, subterranean space and oceanic space. Cases in point include: (1) China opened a new air-route known as M503 over the Taiwan Strait, (2) China set up its jurisdiction checkpoints in some underground levels within Kowloon high speed railway terminal in Hong Kong, and (3) China made large-scale land reclamation around disputed reefs and shoals in the South China Sea. In this paper we discuss three kinds of politics to support construction of volumetric infrastructure: ideology of state’s power in adjusting nature, rhetoric to historically rationalize the expansion, and technology that materializes infrastructure in the volume. Together, the case of China presents the concept of “volumetric expansion of sovereignty power”, in which the state can easily claim its sovereignty power to develop the volumetric infrastructure unilaterally without any proper negotiation with relating neighbor counterparts, with many border conflicts as a consequence. Certain theoretical and policy implications are noted in the end of the paper.

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