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Beijing’s Building Boom

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Beijing’s Building Boom

How the West Surrendered Global Infrastructure Development to China

Foreign Affairs,

5 min read
5 take-aways
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Does China get sufficient returns on its overseas infrastructure investments?

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  • Innovative
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  • Background


China is dominating global infrastructure investment. Experts variously attribute China’s newfound leadership role to the authoritarian nature of its regime, its assertive foreign policy and the country’s government-subsidized construction industry. As three Stanford scholars argue in Foreign Affairs, however, these factors only explain half of the story. getAbstract recommends the article to managers in the building industry and those interested in China’s geopolitical influence.


China has emerged as the world’s biggest development lender, sidelining Western governments and institutions – such as the World Bank – which have traditionally held that role. The country’s unique approach to infrastructure financing is key to its competitiveness. China deals with investment in foreign infrastructure the same way it handles infrastructure development at home. Beijing has made infrastructure investment a central pillar of its domestic economic development policy and heavily subsidizes its construction industry. Overseas, the country uses infrastructure...

About the Authors

Bushra Bataineh is a doctoral candidate in civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. Michael Bennon is Managing Director of the Global Projects Center at Stanford University. Francis Fukuyama is a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

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