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The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge: The Geopolitical Economy of Infrastructure and Mega-City Regionalism in the Pearl River Delta, China

Authors: Brian Scanlon*, National Taiwan University
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: geopolitics, geoeconomics, China, infrastructure, mega-urbanization
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge marks not only a record-setting achievement in engineering, but also a materialization of ongoing efforts by the People’s Republic of China to engage in collaborative projects aimed at expanding and deepening integrative connections with the semi-autonomous Special Administrative Regions of Macau and Hong Kong. The aim of this paper is to unpack and critically interrogate the discourses and practices that underpin the Bridge, and by extension the “Greater Bay Area” mega-city regional imaginary. The pattern of adopting infrastructure as a device of statecraft is observable as a multi-scalar practice of the PRC; within sub-national city-regional development plans, as well as internationally in projects such as the geographically expansive Belt and Road Initiative. Often framed through the dialectic of hope and fear, a close examination of the struggles and contradictions inherent in such infrastructural projects sheds light on a strategic space in which the geopolitical economic ontology of China’s “socialist market economy” is taking shape. The quasi-domestic, yet cross-border aspects of the Bridge project, along with the historical link to the internationally negotiated One Country Two Systems agreement, foreground the interplay of geopolitical and geoeconomic processes; thus providing a case that is helpful in clarifying a generative critical geopolitical economy (GPE) conceptual approach.

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