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In the third article in a new Wilson Center series on “medical diplomacy” in Latin America, the region hardest hit by COVID-19, scholar Haibin Niu forecasts deepening Chinese economic engagement in Latin America despite steep declines in Chinese investment in the region in recent years.

In his article, “China’s Economic Engagement with Latin America Beyond COVID-19,” Niu, deputy director of the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, says China’s pandemic assistance strengthened ties to the region. Now, he says, the rapid recovery in Chinese demand for Latin American exports is buoying Latin America’s sputtering economies.

 Though China’s “dual circulation” strategy is inward-focused, Niu says it will not hamper trade with Latin America. Rather, he says, “China’s recovering domestic manufacturing and increasing consumption will depend partially on imports from Latin American countries.” Moreover, China regards Latin America as an increasingly important post-pandemic destination for investment and exports, given commercial tensions with the United States. “Unlike the situation in some advanced economies, China’s technological progress is generally not treated as a security or economic threat by Latin American countries,” he writes.

Previous reports in this series, from the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program and Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, have examined China’s response to the coronavirus in Latin America, and the impacts in Latin America of tensions between the United States and China. For more information on “medical diplomacy” in Latin America, please visit our interactive tracker and COVID-19 portal, where you can find previous papers in this series by Cynthia Sanborn and Jorge Heine.

About the Author

Image - Haibin Niu

Haibin Niu

Associate research fellow and deputy director of the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies; vice secretary general of the Chinese Association for Latin American Studies.
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Latin American Program

The Wilson Center’s prestigious Latin American Program provides non-partisan expertise to a broad community of decision makers in the United States and Latin America on critical policy issues facing the Hemisphere. The Program provides insightful and actionable research for policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists, and public intellectuals in the United States and Latin America. To bridge the gap between scholarship and policy action, it fosters new inquiry, sponsors high-level public and private meetings among multiple stakeholders, and explores policy options to improve outcomes for citizens throughout the Americas. Drawing on the Wilson Center’s strength as the nation’s key non-partisan forum, the Program serves as a trusted source of analysis and a vital point of contact between the worlds of scholarship and action.  Read more

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