Plenary Session: Global Financial Shifts? Intersecting global finance with geopolitics
Organiser: Karen Lai (Department of Geography, National University of Singapore)
To understand the dynamic and variegated landscapes of global finance, it is insufficient to focus on economic factors or cultural explanations; geopolitical interests are also vital in shaping the creation of new markets and financial flows. The rise of Asian finance and the distinctive roles of state actors in Asian economies has prompted renewed interest in political economic analysis and explanations in addition to a cultural economy approach to finance and market-making. In this panel, speakers will examine the growing financial power of Chinese firms and institutions through the Belt and Road Initiative and renminbi (RMB) internationalisation, and evaluate their impacts across different scales and territorialities. The overall objective is to highlight the value of intersecting finance with geopolitical considerations in order to explain how global financial networks and developmental outcomes unfold.
Geo-politics and financial networks: placing Renminbi internationalisation within global monetary transformation
Sarah Hall, Professor of Economic Geography, School of Geography, University of Nottingham
This paper uses the case of Chinese currency internationalisation (renminbi) to call for a fuller understanding of the geo-politics of global finance. In particular, the analysis explores the extent to the financial centre can be used as a concrete entry point to develop more nuanced readings of power and authority within the international financial system. I seek to overcome the limited spatial sensitivity in many accounts of global monetary transformation by framing international financial centres as channels of influence within the reproduction of financial markets in three senses: through facilitating marking making, shaping the regulatory environment and providing epistemic leadership. This argument is developed empirically through a focus on the place of London’s financial district within renminbi internationalisation and the wider ascendancy of China within global finance. The paper concludes by reflecting on how the changing geo-economic and geo-political power geometries within global finance can be productively respatialised, firstly by focusing on finance at the meso-scale of the financial centre and secondly by considering financial networks that emanate from beyond the Global North.
Financing the Belt and Road Initiative
Weidong Liu, Professor of Economic Geography, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a new platform for international cooperation, which was put forward by the Chinese government but has been recognized by, and secured the involvement of, more and more countries in the world. At its core are the principles of ‘openness and inclusiveness’ and ‘wide negotiation, joint construction and sharing benefits’ and a quest for coordinated development and common prosperity by reinforcing inter-governmental co-operation, especially by coupling economic policies and development strategies. Among the major working areas of BRI, financing is critical for a successful implementation of the initiative as there is a vast demand for investments in infrastructure development and industrial development, as well as capacity building. To promote BRI, the Chinese government has set up several financial instruments like AIIB and the Silk Road Fund, and China’s policy banks have set up a pool of funds to support the construction of BRI projects and its major commercial banks are setting up overseas branches quickly. Besides, Chinese government has signed a lot of agreements with international organizations, multilateral financial institutions as well as other countries to promote financial cooperation and services and enhance the capacity of financial regulation. The paper will give an overview of the progress in financing BRI as well as some examples.
The Belt and Road Initiative's Logics: finance, frontiers, security
James D. Sidaway, Professor, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore
This paper considers China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) within three interrelated logics, as a spatial fix for Chinese capital, mediated through frontier-making, interwoven with a security complex for the Chinese party-state and its strategic allies. It argues that port cities are sites where these interactions are particularly legible. Such interactions merit careful historicisation vis-à-vis prior moments of empire and capital.