Producing Infrastructure in Contemporary China: Notes from the Airport Industry

Max Hirsh

Recent scholarly work on China has devoted much attention to policy directives that aim to export a “China Model” of infrastructure-led urban and regional development to emerging economies in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Less attention has been paid to the origins of those infrastructure models, which form the centerpiece of the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). My project addresses that gap by studying the development of China’s airport infrastructure from the 1980s to the present. In so doing, I posit aviation as an insightful lens for framing the multidirectional processes by which infrastructural expertise was imported into China from Europe, Japan, and North America during the period of Opening Up and Reform. At the same time, the project reveals how large-scale transport projects, such as airport hubs and high-speed rail stations, have assumed a double function as both a node of global connectivity and as a strategy of urban expansion and rural reform. Ultimately, I argue that an analysis of the transnational origins of China’s infrastructural expertise, coupled with an attention to the expanding spatial and functional scope of large-scale transportation projects, can help us to better conceptualize the processes by which the “China Model” of infrastructure is currently being exported abroad.

当代中国的基础设施制造:航空产业的见闻

关于中国的近代学术著作着重研究一个现象:中国政府的政策强调向亚洲,非洲和中东地区的新兴经济体出口以基础设施为主导的城市及地区发展的“中国模式”。基础设施模式是中国政府一带一路计划的中心点。然而对于该模式起源的研究却相对较少。因此,通过研究中国80年代至今的机场基础设施建设发展历程,我的科研项目将填补该学术空缺。

我将航空业作为一个有利的切入点来研究改革开放时期基础设施专业知识从欧洲,日本和北美传入中国的多向性过程。同时,该项目将表明类似机场和高铁站等大型运输项目已经承担起了双重职责。他们不仅是全球连接性的节点,还被用作为推动城市扩张及农村改革的策略。将中国基础设施知识的跨国根源性和对大型运输项目不断扩展的空间及功能关注结合在一起分析能够更好帮助我们理解基于基础设施的“中国模式”出口国外的过程。

%d bloggers like this: