Maria Adele Carrai
Founder and Managing Director
Founder and Director of Technology
Members and Staff
Design, Development and Strategy
Communications and research
Mapping Global China
The Mapping Global China project provides the broader public with tools, maps, datasets, and research on Chinese overseas investments, including but not limited to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It aims to contribute to a better study and understanding of Global China and its economic, legal, environmental, and political impacts through an observation of the earth (geo) and Geographic Information System Mapping. Through mapping and research, we help to define and position Global China in a broader geopolitical, geoeconomic, geolegal and geoenvironemntal context.
Our website contains the most comprehensive dataset of China-financed projects to date. It relies on collected project information from Reconnecting Asia Project Database, AIDDATA GeoQuery, Boston University Global China Dataset, and projects collected by NYU Shanghai students. 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 to see China in a different light. They are central to the organization of knowledge, where points and lines form and inform our discursive and material realities. Maps are visualization tools that, in our post-literate age, are essential to communicate and gain information on international affairs. We believe that maps are a visual representation of a particular relationship between spatial elements that are based on various cultural, societal, and political norms and by seemingly representing a factual reality, maps in fact 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 is a much more nuanced endeavor, where projects are the result of a diversity of entanglements with the local conditions, norms and economies. Understanding these intricacies and unpacking Global China is the first step toward making better-informed policies. Policy and research briefs from a diverse pool of scholars can provide a much more varied narrative of China’s knowledge and improve the world’s understanding and engagement with China itself.
Ultimately, we hope that the map together with the research and policy briefs will provide more granular accounts of what is happening from the ground, enriching, and expanding the debates and knowledge about Global China.
Goals of the project:
— To provide resources and data to showcase China’s global activities and engagement
— To track the geopolitical, geoeconomic, geolegal and geoenvironental impact of Global China
— To provide research from a diverse group of scholars, local stakeholders, and policymakers to better understand Global China at a macro (maps and dataset) and a micro level (research briefs, interviews)
— To broaden knowledge on China and to include current issues about China, views, and experiences from a diverse pool of scholars and policymakers and primary stakeholders
— To promote student’s engagement and education on Global China and Geographic Information System Mapping (GIS)
— To promote interdisciplinary research and collaboration between New York University Shanghai, the Center for Global Asia, New York University and other universities
While the map provides a broader picture of Chinese activities overseas, the research briefs contained on the website give an account of the invisible relations and social, legal, economic and environmental effects of the projects that the lines and points of the map leave behind. China’s engagement on the ground is complicated by the many different Chinese and local actors involved and their different interests. Chinese activities and its BRI, in other words, become entangled with domestic realities, adapting its shape and scope to different contexts.
The research briefs provide research from a diverse pool of scholars to better understand Global China at the macro and micro levels. They will offer a more nuanced way of tracking how China becomes global through these interactions. The research briefs will also broaden knowledge of China, which is often monopolized by Western scholarship and media.
The emphasis on the mapping and ‘geo’ aspect that defines ‘Mapping Global China’ outline also the four overlapping themes that the research briefs will address:
— Geolegality (law, trade, bilateralism, multilateralism, dispute resolution)
— Geopolitics (states, people, connectivity, infrastructure)
— Geoenvironment (environment, climate, energy, food)
— Geoeconomics (industry, finance, economics, technology)
These themes will be combined with four macro-spatialities that help navigate different world regions within which Global China operates:
— Asia Pacific