Capital Inflows, Elite Coalitions, and Environmental Change

Elite Collective Action around Chinese Capital

My dissertation uses structural and instrumental powers to understand the extent of China’s influence, examining how coalitions of Chinese firms and host country elites instigate a realignment of economic policies toward the opportunities that China presents. I subsequently analyze what realignment means for the development strategies, economic growth, and environmental sustainability in host countries. 

I have previously explored Chinese capital and elite collective action through published and working papers: regressing territorial disputes and Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Singaporean Economic Review, investigating state capacity and Chinese capital in Palgrave Communications, and comparing Chinese railway projects in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia in a revise and resubmit at Development Policy Review and a previous version at Boston University’s Global Development and Policy Center. My revise and resubmit at Energy Strategy Review also examines why Philippine political elites did not oppose Chinese FDI in the energy utilities while those same elites mobilized against investments in infrastructure, mining, agriculture, and banking.

Capital inflows and Environmental Change

Based upon fieldwork from 2014 to the present, another aspect of my  research examines the relationship between capital inflows and environmental change. These works complement my dissertation’s focus on elite collective action by analyzing the developmental and environmental ramifications of capital inflows. My Extractive Industries and Society examines how global transformations and the subsequent socio-ecological contradictions shape the pattern of mineral resource extraction in the Philippines from the American colonial period (1901-1941) to the current era. My Journal of Agrarian Change article finds a similar pattern in the Philippine cash crop industries, noting American investment in the draft animal sector allowed the firms and their allies to expand agricultural frontiers from coconut to sugar across the Philippines. My publications at Environmental Policy and Governance and the Austrian Journal of Southeast Asian Studies explore the Philippine mining sector during a more contemporary period (2001-). The former examines how the inclusion of civil society in policy making enables the successful diffusion of global norms, while the latter demonstrates how the neoliberal era allows state-capital collusion to circumvent procedures laid out for responsible mining.

I have also investigated the relationship between Chinese capital and natural resource extraction. A recently-published Extractive Industries and Society article compares the variegated patterns of Chinese resource extraction in the Philippine and Indonesian mining economies. Two book chapter at “Mobilities of Labour and Capital in Asia” (published by Cambridge University Press) and “In China’s Backyard” (published by ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute) analyze Chinese capital in Philippine small-scale mining. 

Ongoing Research: Illicit Capital and Offshore Financial Centers

I have started examining what I call “illicit capital.” This type of capital has been neglected in the literature due to the focus on state and major private firms. I have already started researching this project and published some preliminary findings. For instance, my paper in Development and Change finds that online gambling firms launder their money through opaquely operated games that allow the transfer of capital across borders. My revise and resubmit at China Perspectives shows how Chinese gambling capital relies on the ‘linguistic’ labor provided by imported by legal and quasi-legal Chinese workers in the Philippines and Zambia.