Who Rules the Waves in the 21st Century? The International Political Economy of Global Shipping

Federico Jensen

Research output: Book/ReportPhD thesis

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As geoeconomic competition intensifies, trade and investment relations between China and other industrialized nations have been put into question. As the key infrastructure of trade, shipping is a source of economic and political power in the global economy. Shipping is key for economic development and the facilitation of economic globalization. Shipping and naval superiority also play a role in power projections by states in the international arena. This is complicated by the fact that shipping services are a market with an ill-defined jurisdictional paradigm, its own dynamics of wealth creation, peculiar firm competition, and its own crisis tendencies. Global political conflicts have reflected on to the shipping industry on several occasions, closures in the Suez Canal or strikes in ports represent instances of the interrelation between political economy and shipping markets.
This dissertation contributes to the literature on the economic and political consequences of global investments in infrastructures by exploring complex state-capital relationships in the global shipping and logistics industries. Following the shipping industry makes it clear the ways in which capital accumulation (and crisis thereof) in transport markets affect the international political economy and vice-versa. Empirically, this dissertation studies the underlying socio-economic processes of the China challenge to ‘the freedom of the seas’ shipping regime upheld by American naval superiority post WWII. In doing so, this dissertation demonstrates the domestic political economy reasons for the expansion of transportation infrastructures and logistics markets within and outside China as a state strategy to rebalance the Chinese economy. The dissertation then showcases the effects Chinese policy has in other countries, both economically and politically, through the study of investments within the Maritime Silk Road initiative in Europe and the synergies between Chinese and European states’ strategies for logistics development. Finally, the dissertation explores the geoeconomic consequences of Chinese expansion in global shipping markets, which has led states recalibrate geoeconomic calculations in the global economy.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCopenhagen Business School [Phd]
Number of pages189
ISBN (Print)9788775682072
ISBN (Electronic)9788775682089
Publication statusPublished - 2023
SeriesPhD Series

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