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Landscape of Ideas: The Rise of Chinese International Development Thinking

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Cheng, Han 


This dissertation explores the rise of Chinese international development thinking in recent years. The re-emergence of Chinese development cooperation since the early 2000s has attracted growing scholarly and policy debates. In the past 5-10 years, a growing number of Chinese thinkers have sought to theorise the ‘development’ of other peoples and places in the Global South. These intellectual efforts include building world-historical frameworks for describing processes of development, and often, an implicit set of directives for how to effect positive change in foreign societies. The dissertation examines this emerging phenomenon to deepen understandings of ‘the rise of China’ not only as an economic and geopolitical force, but as a critical intellectual project. It draws on nine months’ fieldwork in Beijing as well as the Morogoro Region in Tanzania and China’s Yunnan Province on the China-Laos border. The recent rise of Chinese international development thinking first put in the context of China’s changing (geo)political and economic narratives, to lay the ground for a close analysis of key Chinese thinking. The construction of categories of difference and similarity around such themes as time, space, nature and culture is examined in detail to assess the production of meta-narratives of world development and China’s place in it.





Mawdsley, Emma


China, International Development, Critical Geopolitics, Postcolonial Geography


Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge