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The Belt and Road Podcast

Author: Erik Myxter-iino and Juliet Lu

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A podcast that covers the latest news, research and analysis of China's growing presence in the developing world.
39 Episodes
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In this episode, Juliet and Erik sit down with Dr. Xu Liang from Peking University's School of International Studies to talk about his latest research that chronicles historical and modern-day ethnic Chinese garment production in Newcastle, South Africa. Dr. Xu Liang's latest article "Factory, family and industrial frontier: A Socioeconomic study of Chinese clothing firms in Newcastle, South Africa" can be found here. (link) 
How does Chinese capital alter center-periphery relations in Kenya? Can peripheral groups have meaningful agency with Chinese state entities? Who determines, and what is considered "local" in local content agreements built into Chinese-financed infrastructure projects? On this Episode, Erik sits down Elisa Gambino to speak about her forthcoming paper entitled: "Chinese participation in Kenyan Transport Infrastructure: Reshaping Power-Geometries" that looks to answer these questions and more by using Kenya's Lamu Port as a case study.   Elisa Gambino is a doctoral researcher on the African Governance and Space project at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre of African Studies. You can read her prior writing on labor relations at the Lamu port here https://theasiadialogue.com/2020/02/26/job-insecurity-labour-contestation-and-everyday-resistance-at-the-chinese-built-lamu-port-site-in-kenya/Recommendations: Elisa: 1) Tales of Hope, Tastes of Bitterness by Miriam Driessen2) Invisible China: A Journey Through Ethnic Borderlands by Colin Legerton and Jacob Rawson Erik: 1) Putting a Dollar Amount on China's Loans in the Developing World by Huang Yufang and Deborah Brautigam 2) For the American audience: Moving to a mid-tier American city. They are more dynamic than coastal cities give them credit for and one can actually afford to live in them! Added bonus if you move to a swing state! 
On this episode, Erik speaks with Dr. Xiao Han on her latest work co-authored by Michael Webber - “From Chinese dam building in Africa to the Belt and Road Initiative: Assembling infrastructure projects and their linkages" that was published in the 77th volume of the journal of Political Geography.Dr. Xiao Han is a postdoctoral research fellow at University of Melboure’s Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies. Recommendations: Dr. Xiao Han: 1. Cooking - COVID has all of us anxious, finding time to cook and bake goods is relaxing Erik: 1. The Code of Capital How the law creates wealth and inequality by Katharina Pistor 2. A paper subscription to the NYTimes 
On this episode, Erik and Juliet speak with Dr. Galen Murton - Assistant Professor at the School of Integrated Sciences at James Madison University - about how China is establishing infrastructure across one of the most unforgiving landscapes in the world. Along the border between Nepal and Tibet, transport and energy infrastructure development are transforming lives and forging a new paradigm of geopolitical engagement between China and its South Asian neighbors. 1) “Trans-Himalayan Power Corridors: Infrastructural Politics and China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Nepal."2) “Facing the Fence: The Production and Performance of a Himalayan Border in Global Contexts.” Recommendations: Galen - Anything written about Nepal by Sam Cowan and Broughton Coburn Juliet - Asymmetrical Neighbors: Borderland State Building between China and Southeast Asia by Enze Han Erik - Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy by David Zucchino 
From Vietnam to Myanmar, how does criticism of Chinese investment serve local politics, and how does it distract from broader environmental struggles? The Belt and Road Podcast's new co-host Juliet Lu welcomes Vanessa Lamb and Nga Dao to discuss anti-Chinese sentiment in the hydropower sectors of Myanmar and Vietnam, highlighting some key contrasts in the histories of Chinese investment in each country and the challenges of anti-hydropower activism across the Mekong Region. Their Paper: Perceptions and practices of investment: China's hydropower investments in Vietnam and MyanmarRecommendations: Nga: The Last Days of the Mighty Mekong by Brian Eyler Vanessa’s own book is just out! Knowing the Salween River: Resource Politics of a Contested Transboundary RiverAnd also: by Shaun Lim, James Sidaway & Chih Yuan Woon “Reordering China, Respacing the World: Belt and Road Initiative (一带一路) as an Emergent Geopolitical Culture”Juliet: Made in China Journal V. 4, Issue 2 (2019) “Under Construction: Visions of Chinese Infrastructure” 
On episode 19, Dr. Gustavo Oliveira talks about Chinese agribusiness investments in Brazil, the rising importance of the soy trade between the two countries, and the ways domestic and international business interests have fanned the flames of Sinophobia for strategic gains. Dr. Oliveira is a Brazilian scholar and activist and an Assistant Professor of Global & International Studies at University of California, Irvine. Check out Dr. Oliveira's other work on Chinese investments in Brazil and more: http://faculty.sites.uci.edu/oliveira/
On episode 15, Erik Myxter-iino talks with Postdoctoral Fellow at the Global Development and Policy Center at Boston University -  Dr. Rebecca Ray Rebecca was one of the co-authors of a new report published in part by BU’s GDP center - China and the Amazon: Toward a Framework for Maximizing Benefits and Mitigating Risks of Infrastructure Development. linkWe talk about how Chinese developmental finance creates a different type of infrastructure project cycle in Latin America and what that means for local governments, civil society organizations, local populations, and the environment Recommendations: Rebecca: Dialogochino - A website published in English, Spanish and Portuguese  that covers issues related to China, Latin American and the environment Erik The overseas expansion and evolution of Chinese State-owned enterprises by Wendy Leutert on Harvard Fairbank’s blog 2. Daughters - You won’t get what you want 
Last month, the international NGO Inclusive Development International released the second version of their Safeguarding People and the Environment in Chinese Investments: A Reference Guide for Advocates. On this episode, I will talk with the lead author of the reference guide - Mark Grimsditch. Mark is the China Global Program Director for Inclusive Development International and has been researching Chinese investments throughout the world for over a decade. We discuss the reference guide, their "following the money" approach and how Chinese firms differ or don't from other countries' firms in building infrastructure and mining internationally. Download the latest Reference guide here Learn more about the Following the Money approach here Recommendations: Mark - 1) The Scramble for China: Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire, 1832-1914 by Robert Bickers 2) Music - specifically taking the time to sit down and listen to an entire record in the way it is supposed to be heard. Specifically John K Samson Erik  -1) Chinese State Owned Enterprises in West Africa: Triple Embedded Globalization by Katy Lamb 2) The music of Scott Walker, in particular, the album Bish Bosch 
On this episode, Erik Myxter-iino has a conversation with Sociology Ph.D. Candidate at Johns Hopkins University Alvin Camba about his soon-to-be-published work - Reexamining China and South-South Relations: Chinese State-backed and Flexible Private Capitals in the Philippines.In it, Alvin analyzes the different types of Chinese capitals and how they interact with different political eras in the Philippines.Recommendations: Alvin - The China Boom: Why China will not rule the World by Ho-fung Hung Erik -  Why is the White House Scuttling its Biggest Development Win? Four Hidden Daggers Pointed at the Heart of the New USDFC by Todd Moss and Erin Collinson 
This week's #beltandroadpod is all about #Kazakhstan - @emyxter spoke with PhD Candidate at Hokkaido University - Assel Bitabarova @BitabarAssel on how Kazakhstan is interacting with the Belt and Road, Chinese financing and construction of Kazakhstani infrastructure, and more.The podcast is based on Assel's latest writing in the Journal of Contemporary East Asian Studies, entitled: Unpacking Sino-Central Asian engagement along the New Silk Road: a case study of Kazakhstan (link) Recommendations:Assel:China's Belt and Road Initiative and its Impact in Central Asia, co-authored by the Central Asia Program at George Washington University and Nazarbayev University, edited by Maurelle Laruelle. Erik: The Specter of Global China: Politics, Labor and Foreign Investment in Africa, by Ching Kwan Lee. 
On the 10th episode of the Belt and Road Podcast, Erik sits down with Dr. Lee Jones to discuss his latest co-authored work with Zeng Jinghan in Third World Quarterly entitled: "Understanding China's Belt and Road Initiative: Beyond 'grand strategy' to a state transformation analysis". Dr. Lee Jones is a Reader in international politics in the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London, and a Research Associate at the Asia Research Centre of Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. He specializes in the study of political economy, social conflict, state transformation and security in the global south, particularly in East Asia. Recommendations: Dr. Lee Jones - Fragmentation and Mobilization: Domestic Politics of the Belt and Road Initiative in China by Min Ye Follow Dr. Lee Jones on @drleejonesErik - In a honestly uncoordinated fashion also recommended Fragmentation and Mobilization: Domestic Politics of the Belt and Road Initiative in China by Min Ye Follow on twitter @beltandroadpod  Also the films that were snubbed by the Oscars     First Reformed and Hereditary (Toni Collette's performance)
On this episode Courtney Weatherby - a research analyst with the Stimson Center’s Southeast Asia and Energy, Water, & Sustainability programs - discusses the different push and pull factors that have made China become involved with nearly a quarter of all energy projects in SE Asia, including an estimated 43% of all coal projects. Furthermore we look at what China and ASEAN countries can do to successfully transition to cheaper and more sustainable wind and solar projects. Podcast based on her article: It's Decision Time for Southeast Asia as Power Demand SoarsRecommendations: Courtney - The Last Days of the Mighty Mekong by Brian Eyler  Erik - 'China's World Bank' is Making it Easier to Complain - Lili Pike The entire website www.chinadialogue.net 
2018 saw the creation of two new high-profile development finance agencies. In China there was the creation of the China International Development Cooperation Agency, and in America the International Finance Development Corporation. On this episode, I speak with UPenn Ph.D. student Scott Wingo about his latest article “Too Much Risk or Not Enough? New Development Finance Agencies in China and the United States” that was featured in the Center for Advanced China Research’s blog. In our discussion, we talk about the domestic political economies that spawned these agencies and their ability or inability to carry out their assigned goals. Recommendations:Scott: Reports of Belt and Road’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated, by Nadège Rolland. Erik: The dual role of cadres and entrepreneurs in China: The Evolution of Managerial leadership in State-Monopolized Industries by Chih-shian Liou, Chung-ming Tsai Also, visit St. Petersburg, Florida. It’s an amazing progressive, artistic city that’s between two bodies of water on a Peninsula. Cheap flights on Allegiant Air or Spirit airlines make for a perfect weekend getaway during this dreary winter 
On this episode Juliet Lu - Ph.D Candidate in the department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley -  is on the show to talk about her recent research on Chinese SOE and private firm land investment in Northern Laos. Our discussion stems from her years of extensive fieldwork in Northern Laos talking with Chinese investors, Laotian officials and locals on their experience with land investments. Juliet has published multiple articles on the subject but this episode focuses mainly on her 2017 Journal of Territory, Politics and Governance article co-authored with Oliver Schonweger entitled - Great Expectations: Chinese investment in Laos and the myth of empty land. Recommendations:Juliet: The Specter of Global China: Politics, Labor, and Foreign Investment in Africa by Ching Kwan Lee, and Why is everyone so busy? - In search of lost time a 2014 article in The Economist on free time and why there seems to be so little of it. Erik: Venezuela and China: A Perfect Storm by Matt Ferchen, an article by Nonresident Scholar  @MattFerchen of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. Erik's second recommendation: Adopt an animal.
On this episode, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies master student Nicholas Lo talks about his field work that looked at Chinese infrastructure and natural resource investments in Myanmar, and how Chinese capital can bring specific challenges and some potential gains, to creating sustainable development outcomes in the country. This episode is based on Nicholas' article for the Beijing-based NGO Global Environmental Institute http://www.geichina.org/en/challenges-of-greening-the-belt-and-road-myanmar-case-study/Erik's Recommendation:China Challenges Global Governance? The Case of Chinese International Development Finance and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/ia/china-challenges-global-governance-case-chinese-international-development-finance-andNick's recommendation:Burma: Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity by Martin Smithhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1649910.Burma
In our third episode, I am excited to feature international development consultant Xiao'Ou Zhu. Before every newspaper was using the Hambantota Port as the fearful case of China using "debt diplomacy" Xiao'Ou was doing the on-the-ground fieldwork using China Harbour's Engineering Group's role in the creation of the port as a case showing how important Chinese State Owned Enterprises are in Belt and Road Countries and how many BRI projects are really a bottom-up phenomenon rather than the often reported top-down projects. Recommendations: Xiao'Ou Zhu: Read anything about the 1952 Rice-Rubber Agreement Erik: From Impediment to Adaptation: Chinese Investments in Myanmar's New Regulatory Environment" by Siusue Mark and Youyi Zhang in Journal of Current SE Asian Affairs 2/2017 71-100
On our second episode Tom Baxter - who works in communications and focuses on the environmental impacts of Belt and Road investments at Greenpeace East Asia in Beijing - talks about his latest article for the blog Panda Paw Dragon Claw “Zooming in, Zooming out: the Frames Through Which Western Media See Belt and Road” https://pandapawdragonclaw.blog/2018/07/27/zooming-in-zooming-out-the-frames-through-which-western-media-see-belt-and-road/
On the inaugural episode of The Belt and Road Podcast, host Erik Myxter-iino brings on Emily Weinstein, a research analyst at Pointe Bellow. Emily talks about her piece featured on the Jamestown Foundation's website "The Belt and Road Initiative: A road to China's World Cup Dreams?" which talks about the BRI and its relation to Sports Tourism and the World CupEmily's Recommendation: The China Soccer Observatory www.nottingham.ac.uk/asiaresearch/p…cso/index.aspxEmily's article: jamestown.org/program/the-belt-a…-world-cup-dreams/Follow the Belt and Road Podcast twitter: @beltandroadpod facebook: www.facebook.com/beltandroadpod
Countries along the Belt and Road face major strategic technical and political questions when considering Chinese assistance in the telecommunications field. In this episode, Dr. DingFei discusses two articles on Chinese telecoms investments in Ethiopia. Through the lenses of Ethiopian state-Chinese company negotiations as well as employment practices, she explains how Ethiopian actors have corralled Chinese company interests to better serve their priorities and put bounds on their dominance of the Ethiopian telecommunications system by introducing inter-firm competition. See Dr. DingFei's relevant publications here: 1) Chinese Telecommunications Companies in Ethiopia: The Influences of Host Government Intervention and Inter-firm Competition. (2020) The China Quarterly 2) Employee Management Strategies of Chinese Telecommunications Companies in Ethiopia: Half-way Localization and Internationalization. (2020) Journal of Contemporary China Check out our recommendations!Ding1) Africa's Shadow Rise: China and the Mirage of African Economic Development, Pádraig Carmody, Peter Kragelund, and Ricardo Reboredo, September 2020Erik1) Going Local: An Assessment of China’s Administrative-Level Activity in Latin America and the Caribbean, Margaret Myers, December 20202) How To with John Wilson, HBOJuliet1) Media Politics in China: Improvising Power Under Authoritarianism, Maria Repnikova, June 2017~Special thanks to Maggie Gaus, who joined the Belt and Road Pod team in Dec 2020 and edited this episode~
Who makes decisions about project approval, design, and the pursuit of sustainability - in China, in recipient countries, and beyond? A recent report entitled, 'Belt and Road Decision-making in China and Recipient Countries: How and To What Extent Does Sustainability Matter?' breaks this question down artfully to trace the interests and institutional structures shaping BRI projects. Listen to our interview with two of the three the authors, Thomas Hale (Associate Professor of Global Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford) and Johannes Urpelainen (Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Professor of Energy, Resources and Environment at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and founding director of ISEP) and check out our recommendations!Erik1) Ys, Joanna NewsomJohannes1) De-carbonizing the Belt and Road, Climateworks Foundation, September 20192) The Emperor's New Road: China and the Project of the Century, Jonathan Hillman3) The Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy at Johns Hopkins SAISTom1) Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley RobinsonJuliet1) On China's New Silk Road, Mary Kay Magistad~Special thanks to Maggie Gaus, who has joined the Belt and Road Pod team and edited this episode~
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