My presentation interrogates the character of China’s rising influence in South America. Does this partnership indicate a temporary set of alliances, or a structural shift that could make China the dominant economic power in the region? My goal is not only to evaluate how China’s rising influence has affected Latin America in the recent past, but to assess how China’s foreign policy will impact the future of Latin America in a post COVID-19 reality.
The focal point of my research involves how China’s foreign policy is impacting the Latin American countries that they primarily interact with. As increased alternatives to loans from United States institutions such as the IMF arises, the usual sources that countries turn for investment are now less important than ever before. Therefore, China is of growing importance. To best understand the scope of China’s involvement in the region, and whether China’s growing presence in Latin America will yield a structural shift, I explore these core questions: where exactly do China and Latin American countries meet in international trade? How has this dynamic shifted in recent years? How and when does this relationship become political? How will China’s foreign policy impact Latin American democracies? In particular, how will China’s relationships with its largest trade partners: Brazil, Argentina, change in a post-COVID-19 landscape? My presentation examines what spurred China’s initial involvement of the region, and their foreign policy decisions. In particular, I discuss (1) China’s role as a political ally, (2) actions in bilateral trade agreements, (3) China's involvement as a creditor and its impact on Brazil and Argentina.
After analyzing each Latin American case-study, I explore how the coronavirus pandemic has influenced relationships between China and Latin American nations. The outbreak of COVID-19 has been, as Xi Jinping stated, “a major test of China’s system and capacity for governance”—and quite possibly the greatest challenge the Chinese Communist Party has dealt with since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. However, this outbreak has also ravaged Latin American economies. Understanding how China balances (1) it’s role as a creditor, (2) trade partner, (3) political ally when engaging with Latin American countries is pivotal to having a better understanding of future Chinese foreign policy within the region. Based on my preliminary research, the China-Latin America relationship has come to stay. China’s growing presence in the region indicates a major structural shift and realignment in economic foreign policy with a potential to significantly transform Latin America in coming decades.