Chinese Engagement in Latin America and Europe: Comparisons and Interdependencies

posted by R. Evan Ellis on July 7, 2021 - 12:00am

I am sharing my latest work, comparing Chinese engagement with Latin America, with PRC engagement in Europe.  I was honored by the opportunity to present this work in June at an international conference of the National Defense University of Romania...and by its subsequent publication by the Peruvian Army Center for Strategic Studies (CEEP).  My thanks also to CEEP, the partner institution of my own U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, for translating it into Spanish, and their incredibly rapid and professional job publishing it.

This paper examines Chinese commercial, political, and security engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean, comparing it with similar engagement in Europe. It finds evidence that PRC engagement globally is driven by a strategy focused on re-orienting the world to the economic benefit of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), with nonetheless important political, institutional, and security engagement in support of these objectives and the consequences of their pursuit. It finds common elements in China’s pursuit of secure sources of supply, markets and technology across regions, its use of the PRC government supporting roles, with differences reflecting the governance and political structure of each partner, the economic opportunities available, and the imperatives of geography. It finds that PRC “soft power” over political and business elites in both regions is significant, based more in the expectation of benefit than an alignment of values, and thus can coexist with mistrust of the PRC. It finds that Europe and Latin America can gain insights from examining Chinese engagement in each other’s regions. It also finds that engagement in each impacts the other through the roles of Chinese companies as both competitors and partners of Western European ones in both regions, and through intraregional supply chains and the flows of funds through mergers and acquisitions by China of stakes in those companies.

As always, the work in both English and Spanish is also available through the website of CEEP:

English version
En Espanol