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This chapter examines the influence of US–China geopolitical tensions in the political economy configurations of the energy and telecommunication sectors in Argentina. To do so it examines at a series of leading infrastructure projects that have reconfigured these sectors in recent years or that promise to do so in the future, and poses two questions. First, in what way do these infrastructure projects manifest geopolitical tensions between the US and China as well as the responses of the Argentinian state to such dynamics? Second, can these infrastructure projects be seen as contested socio-technical processes leading to the production of new forms of territoriality (rescaling of spatial-politics relations, transnational connectivity, and so on)? It concludes that Argentina’s infrastructure state overwhelmingly focuses on the promise of economic growth through the exploitation of nature, neglecting the serious environmental and social consequences of extractivist development.

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This chapter argues that Ethiopia has received so much finance from China (both before and after the announcement of the BRI) partly because of Ethiopia’s potentiality as an ‘infrastructure state’, due to its relatively centralized state structures and hierarchical governance processes. It therefore begins by examining why and how Ethiopia became such an important partner for China in Africa, and how Sino-Ethiopian infrastructure relations thrived partly due to the relative affinity between Chinese and Ethiopian governance processes and their shared spatial objectives. It then examines how Chinese infrastructure finance has facilitated the restructuring of state institutions to deliver major transport infrastructure projects and Ethiopia’s industrial parks strategy. Here we show that Ethiopia has drawn on China’s own experience of infrastructure governance and territorial integration, but also argue that it is far from being a powerless partner in its dealings with Beijing and with Chinese State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). Finally, we turn to the recent period of political crisis, particularly since 2018, and show that US engagement in the Ethiopian infrastructure sector offers potential opportunities and risks. The future of the ‘infrastructure state’, developed partly through Chinese assistance, remains uncertain as the Ethiopian government struggles to consolidate territorial integration and control, and political fragmentation threatens to unravel a centuries-long project of centralization. Moreover, it is not clear whether the finance provided by a new range of actors with an interest in Ethiopian infrastructure will contribute to centralization or undermine it.

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Author: Dorothy Tang

Chinese-funded multi-facility economic zones (MFEZs) in Zambia are paradigmatic cases of the complex processes of negotiations between state interests, industrialization, and urban development. As instruments of Chinese foreign policy, state-led investments, and globally accepted best practice for economic development, economic zones require land, infrastructure, and a development strategy that is loosely aligned with priorities of their host countries. Rather than conceiving of these MFEZs as isolated Chinese enclaves, this chapter situates them within a longer spatial and temporal trajectory of geopolitics to unpack how urban design and planning practices are also subject to such negotiations. The chapter, first, contextualizes the history of Zambian economic planning that led to the establishment of MFEZs in relationship to Chinese and Japanese foreign policies. Second, it compares the planning and design of the Zambia–China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone and the Lusaka South MFEZ – funded by the Zambian government with assistance from Japan and Malaysia – to analyse the underlying spatial and urban logics of two state-led economic development projects.

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The conclusion first summarizes the key contributions of the volume. Contemporary great power rivalry has far-reaching consequences for people and places worldwide, and it increasingly serves as a reference point for issues that were unrelated until recently. As chapters in this volume show, this competition involves a host of middle and regional powers as well as international institutions, while affording third states and localities agency. The chapter questions whether there is scope for more emancipatory politics to take shape among a bloc of non-aligned states capable of influencing the international order, and concludes by exploring the possibility of the emergence of 21st-century Third Worldism.

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This chapter discusses how elites in the Duterte administration (2016 onwards) have carved out new state spaces amid intensified US–China geostrategic competition and the expansion of the BRI in the Philippines. While observers argue that Duterte represents a distinct ‘pro-China’ faction, this chapter instead suggests that the country’s recent shifts in foreign economic policy are the result of competing political, economic, and military coalitions that collectively underpin a convoluted geopolitical approach towards US and China. Beyond Duterte’s immediate role, this account draws attention to a broader constellation of actors and conflicts behind the country’s management of the BRI and geopolitics in general. In the context of US–China competition, Philippine elites are pursuing longstanding political, economic, and spatial objectives through state restructuring. The first case in the chapter illustrates how Philippine economic managers shifted their infrastructure strategy from a market-oriented approach leaning heavily on public–private partnerships (PPPs) to a hybridized usage of PPPs and foreign funding. The second case shows that elites within the Philippine military, particularly the Coast Guard, leveraged Duterte’s (d)alliance with China to expand their jurisdiction and capacity. In sum, the chapter illustrates that host states restructure in the context of US–China competition in accordance with the interests of elite coalitions, illustrating the heterogeneity of powers and interests in the host country.

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Author: Ferenc Gyuris

This chapter examines Hungary’s attempt to leverage its strategic position as a member of the EU and its geography on the bloc’s eastern periphery. While Hungary is firmly rooted in the EU and benefits from integration in European – mainly German – production networks, the right-wing Orbán government that came to power in 2010 turned to China in pursuit of domestic and regional political and spatial objectives. This orientation was precipitated by the hope that ties with Beijing would foster Chinese investment and international trade. This chapter contextualizes Hungary’s ‘eastward turn’ as a reversal of the resolute faith in Western Europe, and ‘the West’ in general, that characterized Hungarian politics since the end of the Cold War. This faith was severely tested in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and, in this context, the Hungarian government seized on integration with China’s fast-growing economy as the answer to persistently sluggish growth and the EU’s bureaucratic inertia. However, this chapter shows that this strategy’s economic dividends have largely failed to materialize, while its infrastructural promise has also lagged far below expectations. As a result, domestic and foreign criticism of Hungary’s relations with China has grown louder in recent years, and relations with China are currently becoming a central issue in Hungarian domestic politics.

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Tensions between the US and China have escalated as both powers seek to draw countries into their respective political and economic orbits by financing and constructing infrastructure. Wide-ranging and even-handed, this book offers a fresh interpretation of the territorial logic of US-China rivalry, and explores what it means for countries across Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America. The chapters demonstrate that many countries navigate the global infrastructure boom by articulating novel spatial objectives and implementing political and economic reforms. By focusing on people and places worldwide, this book broadens perspectives on the US-China rivalry beyond bipolarity, and it is an essential guide to 21st century politics.

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Tensions between the US and China have escalated as both powers seek to draw countries into their respective political and economic orbits by financing and constructing infrastructure. Wide-ranging and even-handed, this book offers a fresh interpretation of the territorial logic of US-China rivalry, and explores what it means for countries across Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America. The chapters demonstrate that many countries navigate the global infrastructure boom by articulating novel spatial objectives and implementing political and economic reforms. By focusing on people and places worldwide, this book broadens perspectives on the US-China rivalry beyond bipolarity, and it is an essential guide to 21st century politics.

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This chapter examines how Nepal is seeking to enhance its trans-Himalayan connectivity with China to reduce its dependence on India. This case speaks to geopolitics because the US is supporting Indian efforts to orient the Nepali economy away from China through large-scale infrastructure investments. The chapter asks: in what ways is competition in infrastructure development becoming a key domain of geopolitics and geoeconomics on the Himalayan landscape, and how has the Nepali state, as an ‘infrastructure state’ in the sense developed in this volume, leveraged the opportunity to mobilize foreign capital for infrastructure projects serving national interests. It demonstrates that like many countries within the ambit of BRI and other regimes of infrastructure-led development, Nepal is refashioning itself as an infrastructure state – driving development priorities with large infrastructure and imagining that not only economic growth but also that poverty alleviation and empowerment will follow. Thus, infrastructure competition among geopolitical powers in the Himalaya unwittingly creates opportunities for assertion of agency and autonomy by small states, while also revealing the limits of hegemony, and indeed the vulnerability of the major geopolitical powers.

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This chapter examines the changing degrees of influence of the US and China in Indonesia by considering the influence of a third power, Japan. It argues that Indonesia is hedging against the US–China strategic competition, leveraging Japanese capital to attain greater benefits in the negotiations of Chinese capital and carefully detach Indonesia from US influence. First, through the Jakarta–Bandung high-speed railway, the chapter shows how Indonesia attained a better deal from China by leveraging Japan’s initial proposal. Second, it illustrates that the government has consistently followed Japan’s position to hedge against the US-led Freedom of Navigation Operations. Both cases illuminate how Indonesia has relied on Japan’s influence to carve out new state spaces in response to US–China strategic competition. This chapter ultimately demonstrates that, although US–China competition establishes parameters of action for other states, it does not determine outcomes. Jakarta’s project-specific hedging strategies in the context of the US–China rivalry demonstrate that it enjoys a measure of agency that can be translated into the achievement of spatial objectives.

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