“Chinese Expansion and the Future of Southeast Asia”
Will Doig, author of the book, High-Speed Empire: Chinese Expansion and the Future of Southeast Asia
Andrew J. Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, Columbia University
Monday, April 23, 2018
12:00 – 1:30 PM
International Affairs Building, Room 918
Please RSVP here.
Three decades after Paul Theroux dubbed China’s lumbering railway the Iron Rooster, the country’s network of high-speed trains is the envy of the world. Now, China is working to push those tracks into Southeast Asia, reviving a century-old colonial fantasy of an imperial railroad from China to Singapore. The book tells the story of the world’s most audacious infrastructure project, an attempt to colonize and connect a dynamic, newly assertive region. If even partially successful, the railroad could utterly transform the areas it touches, creating cities and markets (for better and worse) in places where none have existed. But it is also a cautionary tale about whether a freshly minted superpower can coast on its hubris through a part of the world that’s finding its footing as a force of its own. As a testing ground for China’s “railway diplomacy,”
the Mekong Subregion is challenging the notion, in sometimes comical ways, that transnational infrastructure will be China’s economic savior. Will Doig traveled to Laos (“Southeast Asia’s nowhere land”) to find out how China’s Pan-Asia Railway Network is coming along as President Xi Jinping forges ahead with plans to connect Beijing with Singapore and make China the epicenter of global commercial activity.
Co-sponsored by Columbia Global Reports