Part I: Analyzing China’s Continued Expansion of Coal-Fired Power Capacity

In partnership with Columbia University

Last updated: June 29, 2021

In September 2020, against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and with the global economy still reeling, China pledged that it would achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. In this two-part series, researchers from the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs explore China's progress towards that goal along two vectors: "brown" and "green". Part I ("brown") identifies 5 coal-fired power plants, approved in March 2020, and tracks their construction and continued development.


Chinese Maritime Expansion and Potential Dual-Use Implications on Critical Maritime Chokepoints

In partnership with Johns Hopkins University

Last updated: July 20, 2021

Though Chinese "Belt-and-Road Initiative" (BRI) investments and related economic activities abroad have been a touchpoint for international studies, this report poses a hypothetical "what if" scenario and seeks to address one facet of the potential implications if Chinese facilities abroad are used for dual-use military/civilian purposes.


China’s BRI in Latin America: Case Study – Hydropower in Ecuador

In partnership with College of William & Mary

Last updated: June 15, 2021

In contrast to our findings of BRI hydroelectric power projects in Bolivia, in Ecuador, we observe fewer problematic environmental impacts in the majority of Chinese projects, with several accompanied by substantial local community development initiatives.

China’s BRI in Latin America: Case Study – Hydropower in Bolivia

In partnership with College of William & Mary

Last updated: June 1, 2021

In line with the push for environmentally friendly Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure projects and Bolivia's former President Evo Morales' "2025 Patriotic Agenda" to transform Bolivia into a regional energy hub, China has supported six hydropower energy projects in the country. The success of these projects vary, and are more dependent on domestic factors in Bolivia than the actions of China.

China’s BRI in Latin America: Case Study – Ports

In partnership with College of William & Mary

Last updated: August 14, 2020

China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is not a monolithic enterprise. Across seven BRI port projects in Central America and the Caribbean, we find evidence that the project partnerships between China and recipient countries vary significantly regarding construction processes and end results.

China’s BRI in Latin America: Case Study – Sustainable Energy in Cuba

In partnership with College of William & Mary

Last updated: August 14, 2020

In contrast to high carbon-emitting Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) energy projects in other countries, China has supported renewable and sustainable projects in Cuba. What sets the "Green BRI" in Cuba apart from the rest of the region?

China’s BRI in Nigeria: Impact of Lagos-Ibadan Railway on Port Congestion – Part 2

In partnership with Columbia University

Last updated: May 13, 2019

A new rail extension to Apapa port aims to connect Nigeria’s hinterland to global markets to diversify its economy. However, the rail extension may fail to address severe congestion in Lagos’ port areas and high shipping costs will remain.

China’s BRI in Nigeria: Spillover Effects of Lagos-Ibadan Railway to the Regional Economy – Part 1

In partnership with Columbia University

Last updated: May 10, 2019

Despite anticipated positive impacts to the Nigerian economy, the Lagos-Ibadan railway has failed to generate positive economic spillover. Nigeria will need additional infrastructure investment to meet the promise of positive economic development.

Part 1: Investigating the Growth of Detention Facilities in Xinjiang Using Nighttime Lighting

In partnership with RAND

Last updated: February 26, 2021

A growing body of research has systematically documented Chinese efforts to imprison, detain, and re-educate ethnic Uyghur and minority groups throughout its western Xinjiang province. In this three-part investigation, RAND researchers explore new data on nighttime lighting in Xinjiang to offer new, empirical insights into China’s efforts to reeducate, detain, and imprison its Uyghur and ethnic minority populations across Xinjiang.


Part 2: Have Any of Xinjiang’s Detention Facilities Closed?

In partnership with RAND

Last updated: February 26, 2021

This report, the second in a three-part series, employs a novel empirical approach to systematically assess the current operating status of known detention facilities in Xinjiang using nighttime lighting. This analysis provides new, empirical evidence to suggest that the overwhelming majority of detention facilities in Xinjiang remain active, operational, and in many cases, still under construction – despite Chinese claims to the contrary.

Part 3: Explaining Variation in the Growth and Decline of Detention Facilities across Xinjiang

In partnership with RAND

Last updated: February 26, 2021

This report, the final in our series, explores trends in the growth and decline of nighttime lighting over detention facilities across Xinjiang. It reveals evidence to suggest that long-term prisons have become a greater priority than reeducation centers, along with those located in rural areas or in areas administered by the XPCC, among other trends. Overall, this report helps chart the current trajectory of China’s widespread detention of Uyghur and ethnic minority populations in the region.

Empty Lots, Green Spaces, and a Parking Lot – What Happened to the Demolished Uyghur Cemeteries?

In partnership with RAND

Last updated: January 19, 2021

Analysis of 48 Uyghur cemeteries in Xinjiang indicates that while many were repurposed for the reasons cited by the Chinese government, fully a third were demolished with no further development on the site.

Part 3: More “Boarding” Facilities Geolocated in Southern Xinjiang

In partnership with RAND

Last updated: January 12, 2021

In this third Tearline report, RAND identified 21 facilities that could be where western researchers, press accounts and professional journals indicate preschool-aged Uyghur children are schooled and often housed in Qira (Chira) County, Hotan prefecture. Some of the newly identified facilities are on the grounds of primary schools, while others were not imaged frequently enough in the last four years to determine firm construction timelines.

Part 2: Geolocating Growth of Suspect “Boarding” Facilities in Xinjiang China

In partnership with RAND

Last updated: July 8, 2020

RAND has identified 55 facilities suspected of housing young children the construction of which coincided with a publicly stated policy to build “boarding schools” in Xinjiang. Western researchers and press allege that Xinjiang authorities are using repurposed and newly built schools to board Uyghur youth as part of a policy of intergenerational separation.

Geolocating Explosive Growth in Preschools in Western China due to ‘re-education’ Policies

In partnership with RAND

Last updated: April 16, 2020

Twenty facilities that imagery analysis, press and professional journals suggest house Uyghur children have been identified in this first study of geolocating China's detention infrastructure targeting Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.

North Korea’s Cement Industry: More Than Meets the Eye

In partnership with Stimson/38 North

Last updated: May 17, 2021

North Korea’s cement industry is central to achieving several of the goals set forth in the new five-year economic plan. Cement and concrete are necessary for improvement or expansion of tourist facilities, housing, roads, major construction projects, and even non-carbon electrical energy production. However, it is difficult to assess the industry’s capacity, output, modernization and expansion.


The Sepho Tableland: Changing Food Production in Marginal Areas

In partnership with Stimson/38 North

Last updated: January 21, 2021

The redevelopment of the Sepho Tableland is one example of North Korea’s efforts to adapt its agricultural practices to perform better within the constraints of the land. This project sought to convert high elevation terrains, which are not conducive to crop production, into grassy fields for supporting livestock farming, thus increasing protein production while maximizing less than ideal land resources.

Examining Kim’s Approach to Construction: Project Wonsan

In partnership with Stimson/38 North

Last updated: October 16, 2020

Well into his ninth year as supreme leader, Kim Jong Un has shown a willingness to deviate from tradition and separate himself from the habits and behaviors of his predecessors. While site visits are a practice consistent with the past, Kim’s hands-on approach for major projects is an emerging signature of his leadership.

North Korea’s Hydroelectric Power – The Paektusan Hero Youth Power Stations

In partnership with Stimson/38 North

Last updated: February 14, 2020

North Korea’s northeastern provinces, especially Ryanggang Province, play an important role in the country’s hydropower development plans. The Paektusan power station project was designed to provide uninterrupted electrical power to this area, where the recently opened showcase city of Samjiyon is situated, to fuel its success.

Bird's Eye View of Heavy Equipment. Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels.

Mining North Korea: Magnesite Production at the Taehung Youth Hero Mine

In partnership with CSIS

Last updated: November 18, 2019

Antiquated facilities, equipment, and processes, together with the continual plague of electricity shortages, will hinder any dramatic production increases of magnesite at North Korea's Taehung Youth Hero Mine.

North Korea’s Hydroelectric Power – The Tanchon Power Station Project

In partnership with Stimson/38 North

Last updated: October 12, 2019

To help meet North Korea’s electrical energy needs, it has placed great emphasis on the use of hydropower. One strategy to improve this sector has been to shift focus from large-scale dams and hydropower plants to smaller ones, arranged in tiers.

North Korea’s Hydroelectric Power – Part II

In partnership with Stimson/38 North

Last updated: August 29, 2019

North Korea has faced persistent challenges in generating sufficient electricity to meet its industrial and civil needs. While coal is a primary source of energy consumption, hydroelectric power is the predominant method of electricity production.

Mining North Korea: Magnesite Production at Ryongyang Mine

In partnership with CSIS

Last updated: August 2, 2019

Ryongyang Mine is the largest magnesite mine in North Korea and one of the largest in the world. However, satellite and ground imagery show the infrastructure and technology in use at the mines is dated and obsolete when compared to world standards.

North Korea’s Hydroelectric Power – Part I

In partnership with Stimson/38 North

Last updated: July 4, 2019

North Korea has faced persistent challenges in generating sufficient electricity to meet its industrial and civil needs. While coal is a primary source of energy consumption, hydroelectric power is the predominant method of electricity production.

A Snapshot of North Korea’s Supply Chain Coal Activity – Part II

In partnership with Stimson/38 North

Last updated: April 2, 2019

Based on an initial look at North Korea's coal industry, the country's larger coal mines have remained active despite the increasing restrictions on the North's coal exports.

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The Ice Curtain: Kola Peninsula Part 2: Expanded Maritime Facilities

In partnership with CSIS

Last updated: March 10, 2020

GEOINT analysis confirms Russian public declarations to expand the storage facilities at Okolnaya submarine support base and Gadzhiyevo submarine base.


The Ice Curtain: Kola Peninsula Part 1: Slow Modernization of Severomorsk-1 Air Base

In partnership with CSIS

Last updated: March 10, 2020

Upgrades at Severomorsk-1 Air base increases Russia's operational readiness, presence, and capabilities in the northwest Arctic region, improving domain awareness and operational capacity around the Kola Peninsula. Further upgrades would expand operational capacity towards the GIUK-N Gap. However, GEOINT analysis shows slow construction progress.

The Ice Curtain: Enhanced Defense of Russia’s Western Arctic

In partnership with CSIS

Last updated: December 20, 2019

Russia's military posture and the deployment of S-400s in its Western Arctic reflects the Soviet legacy of bastion defense comprised of "concentric circles" designed to protect strategic territory.

The Ice Curtain: Russia’s Military Moves Further North

In partnership with CSIS

Last updated: October 1, 2019

Alexandra Land provides air-sea-land capabilities that reinforce Russia’s multi-layered maritime and air denial power; safeguard the Kola Peninsula which is home to Northern Fleet headquarters and Russia's control over the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

The Ice Curtain: Tiksi Airbase; Many Russian Announcements, Little Equipment

In partnership with CSIS

Last updated: June 10, 2019

Current imagery does not show evidence of the Russian government's plans to expand Tiksi Airbase into a Northern Fleet air defense base, complete with 11 interconnected structures, and a regiment of S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

The Ice Curtain: Protecting the Arctic Motherland

In partnership with CSIS

Last updated: April 23, 2019

A complex layered coastal defense arrangement on Kotelny Island allows Russia to better defend and to deny aerial, maritime, or land access to NATO or U.S. forces.

The Ice Curtain: Why is there a new Russian military facility 300 miles from Alaska?

In partnership with CSIS

Last updated: February 13, 2019

In 2007 Russia re-prioritized the Arctic in keeping with Vladimir Putin's vision of restoring Russia's status as a great power. Now more than a decade later, Russia's military returns to the Arctic with strategic implications for the United States.

Sustainability of China’s Overseas Special Economic Zones: Introduction

In partnership with Columbia University

Last updated: May 19, 2020

China’s economic diplomacy has encouraged the use of special economic zones (SEZs) abroad. These areas of specialized regulation and incentives are aimed at attracting foreign investment. However, China’s emphasis on SEZs to promote quick economic growth has raised questions about whether China is sacrificing sustainable development for speed.


Sustainability of China’s Overseas Special Economic Zones: Environmental Sustainability

In partnership with Columbia University

Last updated: May 19, 2020

Evaluating the impact of SEZ development on land, water and air using satellite imagery, we identify examples of where zones appear to be succeeding or struggling to preserve and protect their local environmental conditions.

Sustainability of China’s Overseas Special Economic Zones: Social Sustainability

In partnership with Columbia University

Last updated: May 19, 2020

Social sustainability revolves around how the zone treats its workers and the surrounding community. We observed variation in the provision of housing, training facilities and quality of infrastructure supporting workers' commutes.

Sustainability of China’s Overseas Special Economic Zones: Zambia

In partnership with Columbia University

Last updated: May 19, 2020

Despite significant strides in implementing domestic regulation to curb environmental degradation, the Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone (ZCCZ) is an example of gaps that exist in China's sustainability practices overseas.