Beyond the Belt and Road: Chinese-Inflected Globalization and the Political Economy of Sino-South African Development Projects

Authors: Ricardo Reboredo*, Independent Scholar
Topics: China, Economic Geography, Africa
Keywords: China, Africa, Globalization, Political Economy, South Africa
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


From large-scale infrastructure and productive-sector projects to new multilateral banks and fora, China has become a major player in the global economy over the last several decades. In response, numerous studies have sought to understand the specifics of the initiatives, arrangements, and mechanisms through which Sino-centric capital, material, and knowledge are spread throughout the world. However, the totality of such flows and their accompanying discourses have yet to be amalgamated and theorized. This paper seeks to zoom out and cultivate a more holistic understanding of China’s emerging global role by introducing the concept of Chinese-inflected globalization (CIG). Drawing on primary research conducted on two Sino-South African mega-development projects as well as a review of the extant literature, it argues that CIG at once reproduces and transforms certain aspects of western neoliberal globalization. Additionally, rather than being top-down, the spread of CIG is inherently uneven, hybridized, and locally mediated as the forms and outcome of Chinese-backed networks and projects are tied to multi-scalar histories, geographies, and political processes. These outcomes in turn shape broader understandings of China’s role in the world.

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