Universiteit Leiden

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Siran Huang

PhD candidate

S. Huang
+31 71 527 2727

Siran Huang is an PhD candidate at the Institute for Area Studies.

More information about Siran Huang

Research project

My research interest centres in better understanding China’s interaction with the global south, its influence and impacts, and more importantly how they are viewed, responded to, and contested. It intends to shed light on, and closely examine the diverse and often contesting interests, logic, power, and actions shaping the social relations and processes of China’s South-South cooperation, particularly in it’s engagement with Latin America.

PhD Research

Twenty years after launching its “Going Out” policy, China’s presence is increasingly seen and felt in almost all parts of the world. The story often told is that, under centralized state planning, Chinese capital travels to remote developing countries to “grab land” and extract resources. According to this narrative, this strategy has allowed China to grow into the world’s second largest economy, while host countries are left poverty-stricken and suffering the impacts of serious environmental degradation. This story is especially compelling in relation to mining projects in Latin America, a region that, as Eduardo Galeano would put it, saw its veins opened by colonizers for extraction centuries ago and which continue to bleed to this day. The question is, are we observing a winning China and a losing Latin America? Or rather, is this a story about the triumph of capital and the travails and losses of those who labour in support of capital, regardless of their nationality?

 In order to add nuance to prevailing narratives, my project will trace global Chinese capital from Qian’an, China to Marcona, Peru, two mining towns separated by the Pacific. The two mines are owned by the Shougang Group, a Chinese state-owned company that in 1992 became the very first Chinese corporation to set foot in Latin America. Through ethnographic research, this project will tell the stories of individual Chinese and Peruvian residents, workers and managers—about their lives, struggles and aspirations. It will explore how global forces reflected in national economic policies, socio-political circumstances, the global commodity markets, and technological advances, play a powerful role in shaping these personal stories. It sheds light on the often opaque, yet powerful, undercurrents of the global economy that impinge on local agency attempting to find a counterbalance to these wider forces that transcend nationally-defined interests and aspirations. This project will be the first ethnographic comparative study of Chinese mining projects on different continents. Critical examination of investments in the two towns at the local level, will provide insights into the complex and fraught contours of state and corporate investment that belie the simple narrative of unilateral state intentions guiding development interests abroad. 


  • Garzon, P., Huang, S., Jensen-Cormier, S. Gandarillas, M. (Oct, 2021). Understanding the China Development Bank: Financing, Governance and Socio-Environmental Challenges for Latin America and the Caribbean. Lationoamérica Sustentable. Quito, Ecuador.
  • Huang, S. (2020) Research into human rights impacts caused by the spill from Buenavista del Cobre’s copper mine tailings pond in 2014. Centro Vincular at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Valparaíso.
  • Huang, S. (2019) Research into human rights impacts of Sinopec’s activities in Ecuador and other Latin American countries. Centro Vincular at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Valparaíso.
  • Liu, H., Huang, S., Zhang, H. (2018). Community Engagement Handbook: Chinese Overseas Contractors. SynTao.
  • Huang, S., Liu, H., Zhou, X., & Zhang, H. (2018). The Impact of China’s Agricultural Overseas Investment on Gender Equality: A Case Study of the Investment of China’s Agricultural Enterprises in Laos and Cambodia. SynTao.

PhD candidate

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies
  • SAS China
  • No relevant ancillary activities
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