GDP Center Round-Up: Fall 2021 Global China Research Colloquium

Shanghai, China. Photo by Road Trip with Raj via Unsplash.

By Bridgette Lang

Over the past four months, the Fall 2021 Global China Initiative Research Colloquium has brought scholars from around the world together for a webinar series on topics related to Chinese investment, overseas financing, energy and development. In September 2021, Ying Qian kicked off the series by presenting a new working paper on Brady bonds and their potential uses for debt restructuring in the post-pandemic era. In October, Yan Wang explored the future of Chinese investment in Africa’s public assets, noting opportunities for structural changes and economic transformation. In November, Yangsiyu Lu presented forthcoming research detailing environmental risks associated with power plant suspension. In the final webinar of the series, Austin Strange joined in December to discuss his forthcoming book and the political and economic factors that have led China to become a major financier.

Below, see a summary and recording for each of the talks in the Fall 2021 Global China Initiative Research Colloquium:

Brady Bonds and Its Potential for Debt Restructuring in the Post Pandemic Era

On Wednesday, September 22nd, Ying Qian, former advisor to the Asian Development Bank, joined the Fall 2021 Global China Research Colloquium for a discussion on Brady bonds and the potential for debt restructuring in the post-pandemic era.

Discussing the findings of his recent working paper, Qian explained why Brady-bond-like instruments have the potential to be used in transactions for tackling the post-pandemic period’s debt challenges. Additionally, as the Global South faces a looming debt and climate crisis, Qian says stakeholders have the unique opportunity to redirect debt into channels of new development models that promote sustainability and growth. Read the working paper and read the webinar blog summary.

Africa and China: Structural Changes and Economic Transformation

On Wednesday, October 20, Yan Wang, Senior Academic Researcher at the Boston University Global Development Policy Center, led a discussion on China and Africa’s investment history and how the two can rethink their development cooperation in the post-pandemic era. 

Drawing on a chapter for a World Bank publication coauthored with Justin Yifu Lin, Wang argued African countries should adopt development strategies around their comparative advantages and have credible and capable governments oversee these strategies in order to achieve dynamic growth and economic transformation. Lin and Wang’s empirical analysis found 78 percent of Chinese-financed and completed projects in Africa have addressed bottlenecks in both soft and hard infrastructures, thereby creating public assets, which could generate income and jobs. Such public assets could also provide a cushion during times of financial crisis. Read the webinar blog summary.

Environmental Risks and Power Plant Suspension

On Wednesday, November 17, Yangsiyu Lu, a Research Fellow at the Boston University Global Development Policy Center, presented findings from forthcoming research on environmental risks and power plant suspensions.

Energy investment is crucial to accelerating a global sustainable energy transition. Nevertheless, not all investments are successful. From her research of Chinese overseas investments in the power sector over the past two decades, Lu identified rates of power plant suspensions and where suspension rates are highest. Given the significant impacts of energy investments on the environment, Lu and her research team also explore whether environmental issues are associated with project suspensions and the locations of coal power projects and related air pollutants relative to local populations.

Banking on Beijing: The Aims and Impacts of China’s Overseas Development Program

On Wednesday, December 15, Austin Strange, Assistant Professor at The University of Hong Kong, led a discussion on his forthcoming coauthored book detailing how China pushed itself to become a major global financier.

China’s overseas development program has fueled speculation among policymakers, scholars and journalists due to its growing scale but lack of transparency. In “Banking on Beijing: The Aims and Impacts of China’s Overseas Development Program,” Austin Strange and coauthors unpack the evolving aims and impacts of China’s global development finance. Their study demonstrates that China almost exclusively provided aid during the 20th century, but over the last two decades, has established itself as the global lender of first resort. China’s transition from “donor” to “banker” has created profound impacts for developing countries. Chinese-financed infrastructure projects have provided new growth opportunities, but have also introduced major risks such as corruption, political capture and conflict.


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