China in Latin America: Geopolitics and Global Pandemics

Neri Ann Martinez

China’s economic rise has undoubtedly been one of the most dynamic changes in the global economy and geostrategic positioning of this century. This realignment has expanded to LAC in two distinct ways. As the global leader on manufacturing, China’s economy needs raw materials, of which LAC has a rich amount, mostly in commodities essential for manufacturing. As an area comprising of 33 nations and over 652 million people, China benefits from trade with a continent that can also serve as a robust export market. In the era of “great power competition” between the US and China and a focus on the economic growth of developing nations, what is the threat? Investment in the LAC economy could help reduce out migration to the United States and provide a much-needed influx of capital for the region.
China’s investment in LAC can also boost critical development of LAC economies without having LAC relying only on the US for aid and trade. China can be a partner on counter-terrorism efforts at the border, mitigation of illicit activities and regional corruption due to cartels. It also does not want to be the only power in play.
China further appreciates that Brazil and Mexico are regional superpowers on their own and aims to maintain those relationships.1 China will also respect that a “de facto” Monroe Doctrine still exists, and it would not likely agitate the US militarily in the region solely to advance its economic interests.