Can China Make New Friends in Latin America?


Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment is of concern to China, but Michel Temer has indicated considerable interest in maintaining a strong China-Brazil relationship. Image: PMDB Nacional/Flickr

7th September 2016

By Margaret Myers, director of the China and Latin America Program at the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue
China’s relations with Latin America are evolving somewhat as a result of the region’s changing political landscape.
Although Chinese firms trade with and invest in nearly every country in Latin America and the Caribbean to some degree, they have tended to focus their efforts in only a handful of primarily South American nations. Chinese policy bank (China Development Bank and China Export-Import Bank) finance has traditionally been directed toward Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, and Argentina, for example.
Foreign direct investment is also largely directed toward these countries, although considerable attention has been paid to opportunities in Peru, Chile, Panama, Mexico, Cuba, and elsewhere.
Because Chinese deal-making in Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, and Brazil has been facilitated in many cases by strong government-to-government and even personal relationships, the new political conditions in these countries have created uncertainty some for Chinese entities.
China’s relative carte blanche in Cristina Kirchner’s Argentina has been replaced with a still friendly, but more cautious approach by Mauricio Macri. The Argentine president promised to review the various deals approved by his predecessor in pursuit of an increasingly “mature” relationship with China. Chinese hydroelectric projects in Argentina are being altered somewhat as a result.
Despite over a …

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