Over the past few years, there has been a heated discussion on China's economic expansion in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. A lot of scholarly interest is now shifting to China's "Belt and Road Initiative," and scholars begin to examine China's impact on the countries receiving Chinese investment, especially in infrastructure development, bilateral trade, and financial debt. They focus on the "outflow" aspect of China's economic expansion. However, few scholars have paid attention to the "inflow" aspect of China's economic expansion, such as that capital and immigrants flows into China because of the seducement of "Belt and Road Initiative."
My new research project will explore immigrant labor and new special economic zones in Southeast Asia. For building key nodes of the "Belt and Road Initiative," Chinese government is transforming a few southwestern border towns to new manufacturing hubs and metropolitan trade centers connecting to Southeast Asian economy. Now. southwestern China becomes the fastest growing region in the country. In recent years, the border development projects have attracted hundreds of thousand people from Vietnam, Myanmar, and Laos to work in the new special economic zones in southwestern China. In this project, I want to explore issues such as transnational migration, immigrant labor, and urbanization, as well as how China’s effort to build new economic hubs at its southwestern border would shape regional development in Southeast Asia.
I look forward to working with students to explore interesting questions, as well as to collect, code, and analyze data for this exciting new research project.