confucius institute

The Environment-Security Nexus in China's One Belt, One Road Initiative

Presenter: Prof. Julie Michelle Klinger, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University
Date: Friday, November 17th, 2017
Time: 3:30pm
Location: Massry Center for Business B010

Julie Michelle Klinger holds a PhD in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley. She specializes in development, environment, and security politics in Latin America and China in comparative and global perspective. Her forthcoming book, Rare Earth Frontiers, will be published by Cornell University Press in November 2017. In it, Dr. Klinger examines the global geography of rare earth prospecting and mining, with a special emphasis on the development and geopolitics of resource frontiers in Brazil, China, and Outer Space. As a geographer, Dr. Klinger’s research emphasizes in-depth fieldwork to examine the processes through which resource frontiers are produced at local and global scales. She has worked extensively in rural and frontier regions in Brazil and China over the past decade to examine the gaps between (inter)national policy and local practice. She is delighted to be working with UAlbany Professor Tom Narins on a special issue in the Journal of Latin American Geography on China-Latin America relations.


China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative (OBOR) is driven by a host of domestic and foreign policy objectives. Among the rapidly growing body of scholarship on the subject, both the environmental imperatives behind China’s OBOR strategy and the intersecting security interests between Chinese actors and partner states have received little attention, despite the centrality of both to the formulation and implementation of OBOR initiatives. Based on extensive fieldwork in China’s strategic resource frontiers, this talk presents the concept of the Environment-Security Nexus to explain a key aspect of China’s OBOR strategy as well as the the terms under which partner states negotiate agreements.

Nearly 70 countries and international organizations have signed up for China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative for global trade. These countries collectively account for 62% of the world’s population and 30% of its economic output. The “One Belt” part of it refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt while the “One Road” refers to the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road. Jointly, they’re meant to be a revival of the ancient Silk Road trading routes (see map). The program is an estimated $5 trillion infrastructure spending spree across Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. China pledged at least $113 billion in extra funding for the initiative, and urged countries across the globe to join hands in pursuit of globalization.