This paper contributes to emerging research that seeks to understand how China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is transforming the processes of urbanisation through more nuanced and situated analyses of its spatial, political-economic and discursive dimensions. In doing so, the paper focuses on the proposed Melaka Gateway project in Southwestern Malaysia, which is a privately financed initiative, slated to be the largest artificial island project in Southeast Asia, including a deep sea port, cruise ship terminal and eco-resorts off the UNESCO World Heritage city of Melaka. In line with the focus for this special issue, this paper examines the political, ecological, and socio-cultural transformations that such speculative infrastructure projects generate, even as they remain incomplete. Conceptually, the paper argues that a landscape political ecology approach can help to understand the conjoined political, ecological and discursive dimensions bound up with transnational infrastructure projects at multiple scales.
Bibliographical noteEarlier versions of the paper were shared at the International Convention of Asia Scholars Workshop on ‘Ambivalent Infrastructures’ in 2019, and the Sheffield Urban Institute’s Workshop on Extended Infrastructure Landscapes in 2020, which both helped the formulation of the arguments presented. Thanks is also due to the editor, Vanesa Castán Broto, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions.
The author would like to acknowledge the funding from the Landscape Research Group [Landscape Research Fund, 2020], which provided funding for this research.
- urban political ecology
- extended urbanisation
- Belt and Road Initiative
- mega projects
- land reclamation