I thank Lina Chancel, Ding Hao, Jason Tower, Katrin Seidel, Thy Try, Wang Ying, Yun Heng, Gu Xia, General Managers Bai, Li and Wan, and the staff of Sinohydro Cambodia for sharing information and facilitating access to work sites. I am particularly grateful for Touch Siphat's help. Comments by Xiang Biao, Heather Hindman, Peggy Levitt, Zhang Juan, Julie Chu and the anonymous reviewers on different versions of this paper served as inspiration.
Chinese Investors, Labour Discipline and Developmental Cosmopolitanism
Article first published online: 4 NOV 2013
© 2013 International Institute of Social Studies
Development and Change
Special Issue: Globalization with Chinese Characteristics
Volume 44, Issue 6, pages 1387–1405, November 2013
How to Cite
Pál, N. (2013), Chinese Investors, Labour Discipline and Developmental Cosmopolitanism. Development and Change, 44: 1387–1405. doi: 10.1111/dech.12064
- Issue published online: 4 NOV 2013
- Article first published online: 4 NOV 2013
In recent years, China has emerged as a major source of investment and development assistance across the ‘developing world’, triggering the rise of global networks that in some ways stand apart from the existing order of globalization. This article, based on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in Cambodia from 2009 to 2011, begins to explore the significance of Chinese investors and managers, a new globe-trotting elite involved in projects around the world. Understanding how this new Chinese mobile class sees its mission is crucial for making sense of how China's ‘rise’ may be re-scripting globalization and, specifically, how it may be offering new visions of modernity. The author's research suggests that Chinese investors and managers engage in a developmental discourse which is reminiscent partly of colonial days and partly of the heyday of post-war developmentalism. This discourse articulates the possibility and necessity of progress imposed by outside actors, and is accompanied by measures that inculcate a strict Fordist labour discipline. At the same time, the author argues, it may also contain the seeds of a new developmental cosmopolitanism.