The global production networks have become one of the most important organization platform for coordinating and organizing global production activities, and the development of production networks in the Belt and Road area has a great significance for further promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative. At the same time, since the Belt and Road Initiative was put forward, there has been an endless stream of misunderstandings and even negative remarks. So it is also crucial to establish a discourse system conducive to the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. This paper uses the methods of input and output analysis, value-added decomposition and network analysis to carry out quantitative research on the evolution process of production networks in the Belt and Road region and China's economic drive to this region through production networks. The results show that: (1) From 1995 to 2015, the inter-regional production network links in the Belt and Road region were constantly strengthened. (2) The regional production network structure underwent great changes, and the focus shift and integration trend coexisted. (3) China's contribution to the economic development of the Belt and Road region through production network cooperation continuously increased and effectively promoted the development of the regional economy. (4) China's economic contribution to the Belt and Road region presents a geographical pattern of high in the northern and southern regions and low in the central region. This paper proposes that strengthening the production network cooperation in the Belt and Road region is an effective way to activate late-comer advantages, highlight comparative advantages and jointly respond to external economic risks. At the same time, establishing the academic discourse system of the Belt and Road still requires joint multi-disciplinary efforts.
China's foreign contracted projects (FCPs) are generally considered as part of both Sino-Africa cooperation and China's economic diplomacy. With the rapid growth of China's FCPs, the increasing attention has been paid in recent years to their spatial patterns, especially in Asian and African countries. However, to date, there have been few studies on the spatial and temporal evolution of China's FCPs in Africa from the medium- and long-term perspectives. This article tries to fill this gap and examine the spatio-temporal evolutionary process and mechanism of China's overseas contracted projects in Africa. On the basis of analysis of socio-economic development and evolution of foreign policy since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, we firstly summarize the basic features of the evolution of China's FCPs in Africa from 1950 to 2017. Secondly, we identify main factors affecting the spatial distribution of China's FCPs in Africa and their temporal characteristics by analyzing the transnational panel data collected from 2001 to 2017. It is found that China's FCPs in Africa have experienced four historical stages. In the initial stage from 1956 to 1981, China's FCPs were conducted mainly in the form of foreign aid, which laid the foundation for further development. Between 1982 and 1999, China's FCPs experienced the market-oriented reform, and clustered in African coastal areas. After the rapid growth during 2000-2008, China's FCPs in Africa slowed down, and new project cooperation and financing modes were developed since 2009. From the spatial perspective, China's FCPs tend to concentrate in host countries with large domestic market, high openness, poor infrastructure, rich natural resources, relatively poor technical conditions, and few external debts, especially those countries or regions that keep sound bilateral relationships with China. In addition, the large African destination countries of China's FCPs tend to have higher economic risk to some extent for economic or other considerations. From the temporal perspective, the short-term macroeconomic situations are found to show greater significance while the importance of natural resources and political risks are weakening. Meanwhile, China's foreign investment policies have much more importance, and with the evolving investment institutions in host countries, China's FCPs in Africa still keep a high-risk tendency for more profits. Political and cultural bilateral relations played an important role in China's FCPs in Africa. The study enriches the research on the spatio-temporal variation of the factors influencing the China's FCPs in Africa. Additionally, it would be useful in formulating high-quality development policies on infrastructure construction in Africa in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The infrastructure is the basic bearing body of social and economic relation among the regions or countries and is the main part of interregional networks, which plays an important role in the interregional flow of product, market integration and resources allocation. Furthermore, the interconnection of infrastructure network is the important task and prerequisite of the Belt and Road. In this paper, based on the integrated infrastructure networks, we designed the model and evaluated the infrastructure interconnection between China and other countries along the Belt and Road, and analyzed the basic features and spatial pattern, and examined the interconnection level of different infrastructure networks, including railway, road, shipping, aviation, communication and energy infrastructure networks, discussed the type differentiation and its leading factors of infrastructure interconnection, and summarized the spatial mode of infrastructure interconnection. The main conclusions are as follows: (1) From the perspective of land-sea attribute, island countries' infrastructure connectivity with China is the highest, followed by comprehensive countries, and the inland countries' connectivity is the lowest. For the international regions, Russia-Mongolia region and Southeast Asia have the highest connectivity with China, while Central and Eastern Europe have the lowest. On national scale, the countries whose connectivity with China is the highest include Russia and Vietnam, while Palestine, East Timor and other five countries have not yet formed connectivity with China. From the composition of connection modes, the connectivity of shipping network is the highest, followed by aviation and optical cable. (2) Spatial distance, connection mode and major transportation corridors together dominate the formation of type differentiation of infrastructure connectivity. (3) Four typical spatial patterns of infrastructure connectivity between the countries along the Belt and Road and China have been formed, namely, land-sea integration external connectivity pattern, direct connectivity through land corridor pattern, endogenous low-level inland connectivity pattern and remote unbalanced connectivity pattern.
Since the 1970s, with the rapid development of economic globalization and regional economic integration, cross-border economic cooperation zone (CBECZ), as a sub-regional economic cooperation organization, has been developing rapidly, which attracted many academic attentions. Since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed in 2013, CBECZ has become an important platform to promote economic and trade cooperation between China and the countries along the Silk Road. However, due to the sensitivity of national sovereignty transfer and the cross-border flow of various elements, CBECZ is highly complex and uncertain, which leads to its relatively slow construction progress. Under this background, this paper proposes the concept of ‘scale paradox’ to explore the construction dilemma, formation mechanism and solution path of CBECZ, through the case study of the China-Laos Mohan-Boten Economic Cooperation Zone. The study finds that as a unique region of multi-scale governance, the core problem of cross-border economic cooperation zone is the unequivalence of local responsibility and local authority, namely ‘scale paradox’. And the ‘scale paradox’ depends on three dimensions: the degree of regional economic integration, the coordination of domestic multi-scale governance, and the matching of bilateral border governance structure. On one hand, the governance of CBECZ needs close cooperation from the state level to the local level. On the other hand, its construction needs cross-border system docking and governance structure matching. To solve the ‘scale paradox’, the central state should provide executable institutional arrangements for CBECZ, or delegate enough autonomy to local authorities. Furthermore, central and local governments should strengthen cross-border infrastructure construction, and pay more attention to bilateral institutional coordination.
The in-depth promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative has accelerated the pace of outward foreign direct investment of Chinese enterprises. These “going out” enterprises often face multi-scalar challenges such as the reform of the host country's social and political environment, institutional constraints, and cultural conflicts. The “active embeddedness” and “obligated embeddedness” proposed by the early economic geographers cannot fully explain the correlation between the “foreign capital” and the host country's governance structure and the local institutional culture in the process of “going out” of Chinese enterprises under Belt and Road Initiative. This article argues that the process of outward investment is influenced by “multi-scale” factors from the global, national and local levels, and the key to success is for enterprises to make timely adaptive adjustments in dynamic environmental changes to better embedded locally. By constructing an analysis framework of “global-national-local multi-scalar embeddedness”, it explains how Chinese enterprises are embedded in the social reform of the host country and break through the constraints of institutions and culture through social innovations. A cooperative model of the “win-win” situation of the government, enterprises and local communities had been built, so as to understand the multi-scalar and inter-scalar connections from a new perspective. Taking the Letpadaung Copper Mining Project invested by China in Myanmar as an example, the Chinese firm Wanbao has taken multi-scalar actions to embed into the political, economic and social environment of the host country. On a global scale, Wanbao has considered the international relations with major countries such as the United States and Japan and the influence of western non-governmental organizations on the global production network and local areas. On the national scale, the cooperation model between foreign capital and different political parties, economic benefits and employment of host countries, ethnic and religious issues as well have been considered comprehensively. On the regional scale, attention has been paid to the social impact, religious issues, people's livelihood issues and environmental protection issues brought by the entry of foreign-funded projects. The paper finds that multi-scalar factors are highly coupling with each other and act in different models. Meanwhile, the impact process has timing effects. Research is of great significance for revisiting “institutional and cultural turn” and guiding Chinese enterprises to “going out”.