China–Latin America Relations: Review and Analysis. Vol. 1

In this collection, scholars with the influential Chinese Academy of Sciences offer some interesting but dryly presented perspectives on the surge of Chinese activities in Latin America. Their analyses range from pleasantly realistic, to contradictory, to naive. As an emerging global power, China has proudly established “strategic partnerships” with at least five Latin American states, but the scholars here profess that China presents no threat to traditional U.S. interests in the region. Rather, Chinese firms simply wish to diversify their sources of raw materials and in some cases to sell to domestic markets—and, to be sure, it is true that Latin America’s shoddy infrastructure presents profitable opportunities for Chinese construction firms. Notably, the scholars are wary of left-wing nationalist Latin American governments whose erratic economic policies create risks for Chinese firms; they also worry that “once Venezuela has a change of government, [its] present foreign policy with China may be halted.” And despite its economic promise, Brazil nevertheless “lacks strong comprehensive national strength.” But the basic message—that China’s advance into Latin America has only just begun—is utterly credible.

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