China's role as an economic powerhouse in Latin America is reshaping a region on the cusp of development and change. Since the turn of the century, bilateral trade between China and Latin America has increased massively, going from $12.17 billion in 2000 to $307.94 billion in 2019. From the pampas of Argentina and the vast Brazilian Amazon to Panama's canal and Jamaica's coastal waters, China is financing roads, railways, dams and ports that are transforming regional economies and societies.
Beyond China's global search for resources and markets, Beijing's engagement with Latin America is amplified by cutting-edge technologies and a growing assertiveness in regional diplomatic and military affairs. The United States, once complacent in its dominant position over its proverbial 'backyard', is increasingly alarmed by the spectacle of deepening Chinese involvement in this part of the Western hemisphere.
What are we to make of these shifting dynamics? In this detailed investigation, Dr. Chris Alden and Dr. Alvaro Mendez look at the interests, strategies and practices of China's incoming power. The book, China and Latin America: Development, Agency, Geopolitics (Bloomsbury, 2023) starts by unpacking the historical links between Imperial China and Colonial Latin America through the 19th century, then turns to the revolutionary role played by Mao's China during the Cold War. Next, it turns to global China's contemporary expansion into Latin America by focusing on the development dimensions of engagement in individual countries, and concurrently, on the exercise of agency by Latin American governments and societies intent on managing Chinese interests to their advantage. Finally, the book addresses these relationships in the context of heightened global competition between China and the United States.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.
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