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Ruptured Worlds: A Photo Essay on the Lower Sesan 2 Dam, Cambodia

Infrastructure is often introduced using basic facts. For instance, the Lower Sesan 2 Dam is Cambodia’s largest dam, located on the Sesan River, which is a major tributary of the Mekong. Other key pieces of information are that the project was approved in 2012, became operational in 2018, and has since directly displaced some 5,000 […]

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China’s Overseas Coal Pledge: What Next for Cambodia’s Energy Development?

In September 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced in a speech to the UN General Assembly that China aimed to hit peak carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060 (Xi 2020). The statement focused on China’s domestic emissions, but in the months that followed, there was much speculation about what it would […]

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In the Interstices of Patriarchal Order: Spaces of Female Agency in Chinese–Tajik Labour Encounters

‘What do you want? Shall I give you some cotton? Here!’ the young woman said to the Chinese worker, who passed by the fields to check the progress of cotton picking. ‘No, no. You, come, tonight, tonight,’ the man answered, using Tajik words. She smiled and shouted: ‘With whom? What would my husband think?!’ 
— […]

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Overcoming the Conundrum of Being Made ‘Politically Sensitive’: Anti–Sexual Harassment Movements and (Self-)Censorship

More than 30 years ago, when my family introduced me to their friends in Australia as a ‘feminist’, their friends told me that many people didn’t think of this word as a compliment, even in Australia. At the time, though, I didn’t consider myself very conscious of women’s rights, let alone as a feminist, which […]

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Builders from China: From Third-World Solidarity to Globalised State Capitalism

When thinking about China’s integration with the global economy, the usual landmarks referred to are the ‘Going Global’ (走出去) strategy launched in the late 1990s and China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. China’s overseas economic activities before these events tend to be overlooked, as though they did not exist. But as […]

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Unfortunate or Convenient? Contextualising China’s Covid-19 Border Restrictions

The continuation of China’s Covid-19 border restrictions into 2021 has attracted an increasing amount of international commentary. Like with Taiwan, New Zealand or Australia, which also largely closed their borders for the past year and a half, there is an understandable focus on the steep human costs of these measures that have separated families and […]

From Mao’s Third Front to Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative
: A Conversation with Covell Meyskens

In the early 1960s, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began investing large sums of capital in the interior of the country with the stated goal of building up military and civilian infrastructure to safeguard China from a potential American or Soviet military threat. Often neglected in histories of contemporary China, this so-called Third Front campaign […]

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From Neoliberalism to Geoeconomics

The Greater Mekong Subregion and the Archaeology of the Belt and Road Initiative in Mainland Southeast Asia

In mainland Southeast Asia, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) builds on plans and routes that the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) program laid down over the last few decades. While the BRI is likely to continue alongside various other national and regional development plans, schemes, and programs in the GMS for years to come, this essay argues that the establishment of the BRI marks the transition between the era of liberal economics and that of geoeconomics.

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