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The new cold war and the rise of the 21st‐century infrastructure state.

  • Academic Journal
  • Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers; Jun2022, Vol. 47 Issue 2, p331-346, 16p
  • The unipolar international order led by the USA has given way to a multipolar order with the emergence of China as a great power competitor. According to many commentators, the deterioration of Sino–US relations in recent years heralds a "new Cold War." The new Cold War differs from its namesake in many respects, and in this paper we focus on its novel territorial logic. Containing the USSR was the overriding objective of American foreign policy for nearly four decades, but in contrast, the USA and China are engaged in geopolitical‐economic competition to integrate territory into value chains anchored by their domestic lead firms through the financing and construction of transnational infrastructure (e.g., transportation networks and regional energy grids). We show this competition poses risks as well as opportunities for small states to articulate and realise spatial objectives. We present cases from Nepal and Laos that demonstrate that by hedging between China and the USA and its partners, their governments are able to pursue spatial objectives. In order to achieve them, however, they must implement significant reforms or state restructuring. The result is the emergence of what we term the 21st‐century infrastructure state, which seeks to mobilise foreign capital for infrastructure projects designed to enhance transnational connectivity. The "rise" of China has precipitated a multipolar international order and, according to some commentators, heightened US–China tension heralds a "new" Cold War. In this context, small states hedge between the USA and its partners and China, as they pursue longstanding state spatial objectives. This necessitates state restructuring, which in some cases leads to the emergence of the 21st‐century infrastructure state. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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