The Deviated Route: Navigating the Logistical Power Landscape of the Mekong Border Trade




Border Trade, China, infrastructure, Logistical Power, Mekong Region


In the past two decades, the Mekong region has seen an increase in infrastructure projects aimed at improving transportation and connectivity between China and neighboring countries. These projects feature border control points, customs checkpoints, and security forces, leading to state control over cross-border trade mobility. Logistical power has gradually penetrated the social life in border trading, selectively facilitating certain groups while excluding others. Despite the overarching influence of state control, local traders still assert their agency in shaping cross-border trade practices. However, the transport and border control infrastructures hindered small-scale trading during the global pandemic and filtered out less economically important goods from cross-border mobility. This paper highlights the dynamic relationship between state control and various actors in cross-border trade in the Mekong region. It calls for an inclusive strategy in developing border infrastructure, aiming to ensure equitable benefit distribution and actively integrate the voices and experiences of those most impacted by these changes into the planning and execution of regional projects.

Author Biography

Panitda Saiyarod, University of Cologne, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology

Panitda Saiyarod is a PhD candidate at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Cologne, and concurrently serves as a lecturer at Chiang Mai University


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