Maria Adele Carrai
Founder and Managing Director
Founder and Director of Technology
Design, Development and Strategy
Mapping Global China
“Our willingness to rely on the map is commensurate with our ability to suspend our disbelief in its veracity, but this amounts to a willingness to accept the map as an eye where the eye too no more than selectively brings into being a world that is socially constructed.”Wood D. Fels J. & Thomas Leiper Kane Collection (Library of Congress Hebraic Section). (1992). The power of maps. Guilford Press.
The powerful visualization of space and data through maps makes certain things surface that would not be apparent otherwise and connect people to new problems and knowledge. In our post-literate age, they serve as visualization tools that are essential to communicate and gain information on international affairs. The Mapping Global China project provides maps, datasets, and research on Chinese overseas engagement, including but not limited to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Its goal is to provide the broader public with a more nuanced understanding of Global China’ s past, present and future and its geopolitical, normative, economic, and environmental impact.
Among other things, our website contains the most comprehensive dataset of China-financed projects to date. Using the Geographic Information System Mapping, the map aims to better study and understand Global China and its economic, legal, environmental, and political impacts. It relies on collected project information from Reconnecting Asia Project Database, AIDDATA GeoQuery, Boston University Global China Dataset, and projects collected by NYU Shanghai. The map includes information such as the locations of the project, the project developers, the type of project, and its main contractors when the information is available. Moreover, thanks to Geographic Information System Mapping, each project is linked to satellite images of the area before (2014) and after (2019) during the day and night.
We believe that maps offer a unique tool to visualize the extent and scope of Global China. A map, like the one that a broad public can access on this website, enables one to put things in place and see China differently. They are central to the organization of knowledge, where points and lines form and inform our discursive and material realities. By seemingly representing a factual reality, maps deconstruct and offer a window into a new reality. That is why we believe Mapping Global China is vital for contemporary research and understanding China’s position in the world – because a map can show what other types of sources could not.
Underlying the project is the belief that Global China is not a monolith but a complex, sometimes fragmented entity made of different actors with different interests. China’s engagement with the world has been historically a much more nuanced endeavor, where projects result from diverse entanglements with the local conditions, norms, environments, and economies. Understanding these intricacies and unpacking Global China’s past, present and future trajectory, is the first step toward making better-informed policies.
Ultimately, we hope that the resources offered on this website together with the research briefs, will expand the debates and enrich and understanding of Global China.
Goals of the project:
To provide resources, maps, and data to showcase China’s global activities and engagement.
To track the geopolitical, economic, normative, and environmental impact of Global China.
To provide research from a diverse group of scholars, local stakeholders, and policymakers to better understand Global China’s past, present, and future trajectory.
To promote students’ engagement and education on Global China and Geographic Information System Mapping (GIS).
To promote interdisciplinary research and collaboration between New York University Shanghai, New York University Abu Dhabi, and other universities.