Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Latin America Response to China

Simeon Tegel has a nice take on Latin America's relationship with China. That relationship is often portrayed as one-sided, where Latin America is becoming more dependent, China is spreading its influence, and the like. But it ignores how Latin American leaders are consciously forging their paths, picking and choosing, and avoiding too much entanglement.

But despite Beijing's best efforts – and the uncertainty about future relations with the U.S. as Trump seeks to renegotiate NAFTA and other trade deals – the RCEP remains on the backburner with no Latin American leaders talking up the deal. 
"For ideological reasons, it's very difficult to enter a trade pact led by China," notes Roncagliolo, who also stresses that Latin American nations are not about to repeat the mistakes of the past when the region was in thrall to Spain, Britain and then the U.S. 
Others go further. "China is not the way of the future for Latin America. I just don't see it," says Dawisson Belém Lopes, a professor of international politics at Brazil's Federal University of Minas Gerais, highlighting how Beijing simply cannot compete with the U.S.'s "soft power."

We should start with the assumption that Latin America (with perhaps the exception of basket cases like Venezuela) has agency and has choices, so is not just desperately reaching out to China and it is definitely not passively accepting Chinese "encroachment." Yet that's precisely how so many stories and congressional debates seem to go.


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