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  • Author or Editor: Jessica DiCarlo x
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How US–China Rivalry Shapes Politics and Place Worldwide

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 offers two contributions: it, first, problematizes new Cold War narratives and, second, suggests focusing on the ways in which infrastructure investments align with host state interests and prompt internal restructuring. By contextualizing the processes that are discussed in faraway offices in Washington and Beijing, it shows that bipolar geopolitical rhetoric does not aptly capture the Lao infrastructural experience. Instead, it is characterized by an array of actors and interests, which the Lao government has balanced since well before the BRI. While geopolitical tension has undoubtedly intensified, bipolar rivalry is scarcely visible despite recent US overtures. Rather, other bilateral relations such as those with Vietnam, Japan, as well as Russia, are pivotal. They are not only investing in and building much of Laos’s infrastructure, but they also have deep relations, and their capital and projects have become tools for the Lao government to balance Chinese influence. With the BRI, national development goals are not kowtowing to Chinese demands, but rather incorporate problems and agendas that have been on the table much longer than the BRI. The key question that arises across Lao government ministries is how to juggle and benefit from a deluge of projects and investment capital, and the Lao government has demonstrated an aptitude for successfully manoeuvring between various countries, donors, and international organizations who rush to offer aid or development finance and secure influence.

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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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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.

Restricted access

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.

Restricted access

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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The introduction sets the stage of US–China rivalry and introduces the concept of the infrastructure state. As the chapters in this volume show, the infrastructure state pursues spatial objectives which have necessitated institutional reform or extensive state restructuring. The infrastructure state exhibits significant variation from place to place but, in all cases, it seeks to address longstanding developmental challenges through the enhancement of connectivity. The concept of the infrastructure state, thus, shines a light on the effects of US–China rivalry at multiple scales while it also underscores that decisions by actors in the Global South are influenced by local infrastructural histories and political economic dynamics. Simply, local-level politics are shaped by and shape geopolitical competition.

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