Disabled Localisation: Financial Entanglements and Labour Politics along the Belt and Road in Laos

HKUST IEMS Thought Leadership Briefs No. 50

 

Chinese investments in construction sector in the mainland Southeast Asia demonstrate lower degree of employment localization than in Africa. BRI projects in the region rely on an overwhelmingly Chinese workforce for implementation.

This pattern is shaped by BRI’s unsustainable financial mechanism. The Chinese state’s lending practices, often divorced from host countries’ de facto fiscal capacities, result in difficulties to channel planned credit flows into BRI projects.

 

Wanjing (Kelly) Chen from HKUST has looked into the above pressing issues. She found out that top-down financial instabilities shape (sub-) contractors’ labour recruitment processes. Chinese workers, who are more amenable to exploitation in the form of deferred or even denied wages, are often brought in to substitute for less pliable local counterparts.

 

Find out more about their research and their policy recommendations in HKUST IEMS Thought Leadership Briefs No. 50.

Figure 1. Six Economic Corridors of the Belt and Road Initiative. Source: Elizabeth Claire Losos, et al. “Reducing Environmental Risks from Belt and Road Initiative Investments in Transportation Infrastructure.” The World Bank, 2019.
Figure 1. Six Economic Corridors of the Belt and Road Initiative. Source: Elizabeth Claire Losos, et al. “Reducing Environmental Risks from Belt and Road Initiative Investments in Transportation Infrastructure.” The World Bank, 2019.
Figure 2. Kunming-Singapore Railway Network. Source: Alex Hang. “China’s One Belt One Road Projects in ASEAN.” https://asia.ub-speeda.com/en/chinas-one-belt-one-road-projects-asean/, October 24, 2018.
Figure 2. Kunming-Singapore Railway Network. Source: Alex Hang. “China’s One Belt One Road Projects in ASEAN.” https://asia.ub-speeda.com/en/chinas-one-belt-one-road-projects-asean/, October 24, 2018.

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