The Geopolitics of Sustainability and Smart City Construction in US-China Relations
- / Photo by Hanny Naibaho
While the United States and China are already one another’s largest concerns, their differences in wealth, population, and geopolitics put them on different paths. On the other hand, evidence has shown that despite the growing international competition, the US and China still share essentially significant common interests, goals and resources grounded in their inseparable political land economic entanglement since 1970s often centered on the development of science and technology. Respecting these similarities/differences can lead to mutually beneficial collaboration and research on shared problems of modern life. Knowing how to avoid mutual destruction, or at least unproductive engagement, requires knowing empirically where cultural, technical, and regional strengths are deployed in the nodes of international non-governmental organizations shaping transnational innovation and trade, domestic socio technical experimentation, and the critical global agreements that shape local politics.
Scholarly communities from political science and science and technologies studies (STS)have attempted to grapple with these engagements. This has led to productive deconstruction of our assumptions of rivalry such as the afore mentioned asymmetric rivalry, but without the rich empirical description of where stakeholders from both countries engage with one another to (dis)advantage the competition. Reciprocally, STS scholars have strong conceptual and methodological techniques for unpacking sociotechnical systems as hybrid spaces of state driven policy, culture, historical precedence, and technological decision making. While highly productive in generating case studies in the U.S. or China, this approach is missing broader theoretical grounding in international relationships and comparative political economy.
The exploratory project aims to address this novel theoretical and empirical challenge, through investigating the co-construction of technology, national identity, and the multinodal US-China relations in smart sustainable city building. “Smart city” is a rising techno-scientific paradigm mobilized by both US and Chinese governments for future urban planning. This project develops a novel research framework and comparative case studies on “cities” as a collaborative and competition space where the boundary between the local and the global are redefined by various social and political forces. By integrating the political theories of power/hegemony, with the STS (Science &Technology Studies) approach on socio-technical imaginaries/socio-technical system and value-sensitive design, the project will develop a framework to analyze the multi-layer interactions involved in imagining, depicting, and materializing the US-China relation.