Studies on the Belt and Road Initiative and its impact on the sustainable development of host countries lack empirical foundations. This research aims to contribute to the gap in the literature by focusing on Chinese outward investments in energy and smart city solutions development. Our research project is divided in three connected studies that seek to (1) Provide a novel and more balanced examination of the impact of Chinese companies and institutions in the financing and construction of energy-related projects; (2) Analyze the regulatory and legal framework for energy cooperation and the protection of energy investors between China and ASEAN; (3) Examine the way companies negotiate access for developing smart city solutions through a qualitative and policy analysis. The projects will employ a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, including interviews and proprietary databases. Most of the data has already been collected/assembled, but the researchers plan to conduct follow up interviews, site visits, and enrich current data through triangulation to strengthen the empirical parts of the studies.
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