Xiaoxuan Lu

Xiaoxuan Lu
12:45 pm - 2:00 pm
Room 622, Knowles Building, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
China’s Borderlands in Transition
Xiaoxuan Lu
Assistant Professor,
Division of Landscape Architecture,
The University of Hong Kong

Mathew Pryor
Head of Division and Associate Professor,
Division of Landscape Architecture, The University of Hong Kong


China’s borderlands are playing a significant role in current Chinese initiatives to create transnational China-centric development corridors. This is especially true of the nation’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” an effort to generate prosperity by creating a new Silk Road that expands trade and energy links between China, Asia, Africa, and Europe. The economic core regions implicated in the Belt and Road Initiative have been discussed extensively in the media and in public policy reviews. In contrast, little attention has been paid to the dramatic transitions to which the diverse populations and landscapes of the affected borderlands are being subjected.

Today, twentieth-century efforts to secure closed borders are being replaced by endeavors to establish cross-border collaboration, exemplified in the increasing numbers of transnational transportation and energy infrastructures as well as in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) or Free Trade Zones (FTZ) straddling the border between China and its neighboring countries. These include the Bolshoy Ussuriysky SEZ (2010) on the Chinese-Russian border, the Hwanggumpyong FTZ (2011) on the border of China and North Korea, the Khorgos SEZ on the China-Kazakh border (2014), and Erenhot Economic Cooperation Zone on the border of China and Mongolia (2016). These multilateral projects that aim to boost transportation connectivity and economic cooperation in border regions are not just game-changing catalysts of international cooperation and commerce. They also call for the reconceptualization of the conventional Core-Periphery and Heartland-Hinterland divisions.

About the Speaker

Xiaoxuan Lu is Assistant Professor in the Division of Landscape Architecture at the University of Hong Kong. She held visiting positions at Harvard University (2014-2016), Chulalongkorn University (2013), and Peking University (2012). Her research focuses on the cultural landscape and geography of conflict, particularly in transboundary regions. Applying analytical cartography, photography and video in her research, Xiaoxuan aims to reveal the hidden layers of landscape where multiple tensions converge. Her research and design work has been exhibited internationally in “Interstitial Hong Kong: exploring the small and marginal landscapes of high density urbanism” at HKU Shanghai Study Centre (2017.10-2018-01), “Crossing Kazakhstan: The Monumentality of Linear Landscape” at Harvard University in Cambridge (2016.04-10), “Dialogues on Urbanization Exhibition” at IIT in Chicago (2015.03-05), amongst others. Xiaoxuan holds a Bachelor in Architecture from Southern California Institute of Architecture, a Master in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Human Geography from Peking University.

The DLA Research Seminar Series provides a platform to discuss scholarly research on the built environment that is interdisciplinary in nature. The series aims to identify common research threads from landscape architecture, architecture, planning, urban design, and conservation, and by doing so instigates critical reflections on the different approaches to the study of landscapes and cities. For the list of seminar topics, see

All are welcome. For enquiries, call: 3917 7699