A headshot of Architecture Professor Nick R. Smith

On January 17, 2022, Nick R. Smith, assistant professor of architecture and urban studies, published an article in Urban Geography titled “Continental metropolitanization: Chongqing and the urban origins of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.” The work examines the urban dimensions of the Belt and Road Initiative in comparison with the dialectical movement in China’s western region between global infrastructure expansion and urban intensification. 

Smith investigates nationally endorsed policy experiments in the late 2000s to early 2010s in Chongqing — a municipality in southwestern China — that demonstrate the origins of the Belt and Road Initiative as a state-led effort to urbanize the western interior. He also asserts that Chongqing used a strategy of “continental metropolization,” which later matured in the Belt and Road Initiative. Smith explains that this initiative intersected the domestic urban landscape at three levels: metropolitan expansion of urban areas, regional integration across a network of western metropolises, and continental interconnection between China’s western region and the rest of Eurasia.