Infrastructures of Logistics

Massive investments in ports, highways, railway connections and submarine cables will not only bring to life China’s dream of a new Silk Road, but also lay the infrastructural groundwork for an interregional integration of the Eurasian continent and beyond. While material and financial aspects of this integration process have reached an impressive magnitude and are in the focus of media attention, this subproject examines a less noticed aspect: the Chinese influence on ideas of space and on spatial planning procedures in selected countries, which may dictate the long-term territorial transformation potential of such infrastructures of logistics. What specific concepts and spatial practices such as “corridorization” are emerging? Is there a transfer of alternative forms of territorial and regulatory statecraft derived from China’s modernity? How does China’s participation in the planning and construction of gigantic infrastructures and new urban centers worldwide shape the spatial dimensions of a newly emerging political order on the one hand, and novel capitalist constellations of connectivity on the other?



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Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer

+49 228 73 5640



Gu, X., & Mayer, M. et al. (2022). China’s Engagement in Africa: Activities, Effects and Trends. Center for Global Studies: Global Focus.

Chinese technology and infrastructure companies are becoming a crucial factor in the rapid modernization of African societies and economies. Especially the rise of Chinese digital technology and platform companies in Africa has raised eyebrows, often linked to the claim that Chinese companies would spread authoritarian models of government. A new report looks at Chinese activities in Africa concerning technology, trade and energy among other factors.

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Mayer, M., & Zhang, X. (2020). Theorizing China-world integration: Sociospatial reconfigurations and the modern silk roads. Review of International Political Economy, 1–30.

This paper develops a spatial perspective to examine the nature of China’s transnational influence, focusing on the implications of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for international relations. Drawing upon political economy, regional studies and critical geopolitics, we argue that the most interesting puzzle concerning the BRI pertains to the ongoing reconfigurations of political space. Contemporary sociospatial reconfigurations as analyzed through a multidimensional framework offer key insights into the operations and the extent of China’s growing global power in general and with respect to the BRI in particular... more

Frontpage Publication

Curtis, S., & Mayer, M. (2020). Belt and Road cities begin to find their form (No. 630; CIDOB Opinion). Barcelona Centre for International Affairs.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, China continues to invest financial and political capital in its Belt and Road Initiative. As it seeks to fill the huge “infrastructural gap” across Eurasia, novel forms of cities and urban space are emerging both within China and beyond. This opinion identifies the link between Belt and Road cities and their spatial forms and China’s ambitions to reshape its international environment. In this context, two distinctive spatial and urban forms are emerging along the BRI: Urban Corridors and Smart Surveillance Cities...  more

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Mayer, M. (Ed.). (2018). Rethinking the Silk Road. Springer Singapore.

Focused on the "Belt and Road Initiative", this book discusses China’s opportunities to translate economic leverage into political outcomes. The central question is how China’s expanding economic influence will transform the Eurasian political landscape. Proposed in late 2013 by President Xi Jinping, the Belt and Road is the most ambitious foreign policy approach adopted thus far and represents the culmination of China’s search for a grand strategic narrative. Comparative methods and diverse conceptual frameworks are applied to contextualize and explore the political, economic, and cultural ramifications of the Belt and Road in order to shed light on its transformative significance, risks and opportunities.

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