Local Hegemony: China’s Special Economic Zones in Mauritius and Zambia

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Chinese Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Africa are part of the Belt and Road Initiative. They account for a fledgling research area in International Relations, with not much research on the topic. The authors regard traditional approaches in research of SEZs as incapable of grasping the difference between domestic (designed by the state on its own territory) and foreign (designed by a foreign state) SEZs. The concept of territoriality, though applicable only to foreign SEZs, has little to offer in terms of generating new knowledge. The research paper endeavours to offer new theoretical and conceptual frameworks for the study of foreign SEZs. The research is based on concepts of hegemony by different schools of thought, including Hegemonic Stability Theory, the three types of hegemony by Yan Xuetong and Neo-Gramscianism. The authors introduce the concept of “local hegemony”. The authors also highlight the fact that most foreign SEZs emerge in territories of limited statehood (or create them). In order to prove vitality of the concept, comparative research of China’s SEZs in Mauritius and Zambia is conducted. The authors point out relatively poor institutional development of Zambia and the existence of stable democratic institutions in Mauritius. The success of the Chinese SEZ in Zambia is also partially attributed to copper mining. Deriving from economic and institutional empirical data the authors try to detect success conditions of SEZs and analyze the related spillover effects that contribute to the development of African nations. The reasons behind the failure of the Chinese SEZ in Mauritius are traced. Authors conclude that the concept of local hegemony is suitable for studying foreign SEZs and suggest that zones of local hegemony could be sustainable and effective in terms of development.

About the authors

Alexander Dmitrievich Nesmashnyi

MGIMO University

Author for correspondence.
Email: alexnesmash@yandex.ru

Trainee, Institute for International Studies

Moscow, Russian Federation

Yulia Aleksandrovna Nikitina

MGIMO University

Email: seminar-nikitina@yandex.ru

PhD in Political Science, Associate Professor, Department of World Politics, Leading Research Fellow, Center for the Post-Soviet Studies

Moscow, Russian Federation


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