6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

Another Great Leap Forward? China and Latin America in Turbulent Times

Since the publication of its first policy paper on Latin America in 2008, China has rapidly expanded its political and economic engagement in the Western Hemisphere. 


Trump administration officials have warned of the predatory nature of Chinese influence, but many regional leaders have been anything but leery.  Competition with Chinese exports hurt the manufacturing sectors in Mexico and Central America; but the trade in commodities between countries of South America and China during the first decade of the 21st century led to record growth rates in the region and historic reductions of poverty.  Massive Chinese lending and investment in infrastructure provide an alternative to financing from the West, with further increases promised by Chinese President Xi Jinping. 


At a time of rising U.S. protectionism, what relative future roles will China and the United States play in the economies of Latin American and Caribbean countries?  Will China benefit as the region seeks deeper integration with Asia in general, through the Pacific Alliance and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, from which China is currently excluded?  Are Latin American development goals compatible with Chinese interests, and if so, why?  Do rising tensions between the United States and China over a host of issues, from trade to North Korea, threaten to embroil the region in great power competition?  How relevant an actor is Taiwan?


We were joined by the Latin American Program and Kissinger Institute on China and the United States on Thursday, June 14, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., to discuss the role of China’s global trade and investment strategy in the region, the perspective of Latin America toward China as well as China toward the region, and the possible consequences for U.S. foreign policy in both political and economic terms.


Introductory Remarks 


Cynthia J. Arnson
Director, Latin American Program
Woodrow Wilson Center


The Honorable Jorge Heine
Former Chilean Ambassador to China
Public Policy Fellow, Wilson Center

Stephen Kaplan
Associate Professor, George Washington University
Public Policy Fellow, Wilson Center

Maggie Chen
Professor, Economics and International Affairs
George Washington University

Gabriel Rozman
CEO and Chair, Tokai Consulting
President, China-Uruguay Chamber of Commerce


Tracy Wilkinson
Foreign Affairs Corrspondent
Los Angeles Times

Image Credit:  CGTN America