China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Since the announcement of China’s “Going Out” policy in 1999, Chinese outbound investment has increased dramatically. Chinese enterprises are constructing roads, ports, mines, and power plants on nearly every continent, bolstered by finance from China’s banking sector. Some scholars point to the potential benefits of Chinese capital, but others have highlighted its negative environmental and social impacts. At the same time, China is shifting its own economy toward a greener, lower-carbon model, and has invested heavily in clean technologies. China’s leaders claim that green development will be the centerpiece of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an unprecedented global strategy for regional integration and infrastructure investment. With a projected US$900 billion commitment from Chinese financial institutions, the BRI promises to reshape development trajectories and the environment in ways that are as yet unclear. Will increased Chinese outbound investment deliver on its “green development” claims? Or will China merely export its carbon-intensive, polluting industries to other countries?
This paper session, the second in a two-part panel, presents new empirical work investigating the environmental discourses, policies, and practices of Chinese outbound investment. From high-level analysis of the “green” rhetoric and energy investments that are part of the BRI, to fine-grained studies of infrastructure banks and borderland rubber plantations, the papers in this session reveal the myriad ways that the BRI is reshaping societies and environments. Our discussant, an expert on regional water and energy issues, will tie papers together with the broader themes of the Part I roundtable.