Korbel School of International Studies
Jan 21, 2022, 3:30 PM
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In the Global South, the population’s demand for economic involvement has been met by an infrastructure drive. Through the Belt and Road Initiative, China has financed a variety of infrastructure projects, particularly roads, bridges, railway projects, dams, and many others. However, alongside infrastructures, cement and steel imports and investments have also been expanding at alarming rates alongside. I ask: how important is China to the expansion of cement and steel imports and investments? By examining Chinese cement and steel imports and investments in the Philippines, I argue that there is an emerging cement-steel-infrastructure interface in the Global South, a product of a political settlement between Chinese firms and domestic business elites. The affinity between host country elites and Chinese firms has created a surge in both imports and investments in steel and cement. Taking advantage of this expansion, host country business elites, who are often campaign contributors or family members of host country leaders, are building cement and steel factories to provide inputs to ongoing foreign-funded infrastructure projects in their countries. Chinese firms and their host country business partners are also importing steel and cement products. I build this paper by combining host country databases on import and shareholder data on cement and steel alongside several detailed case studies derived from several Philippine provinces.