China has become a global power, but there is too little debate about how this has happened and what it means. Many argue that China exports its developmental model and imposes it on other countries. But Chinese players also extend their influence by working through local actors and institutions while adapting and assimilating local and traditional forms, norms, and practices.
With a generous multiyear grant from the Ford Foundation, Carnegie has launched an innovative body of research on Chinese engagement strategies in seven regions of the world—Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, the Pacific, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Through a mix of research and strategic convening, this project explores these complex dynamics, including the ways Chinese firms are adapting to local labor laws in Latin America, Chinese banks and funds are exploring traditional Islamic financial and credit products in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and Chinese actors are helping local workers upgrade their skills in Central Asia. These adaptive Chinese strategies that accommodate and work within local realities are mostly ignored by Western policymakers in particular.
Ultimately, the project aims to significantly broaden understanding and debate about China’s role in the world and to generate innovative policy ideas. These could enable local players to better channel Chinese energies to support their societies and economies; provide lessons for Western engagement around the world, especially in developing countries; help China’s own policy community learn from the diversity of Chinese experience; and potentially reduce frictions.
Evan A. Feigenbaum
Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
China’s modernization strategy integrates both domestic and foreign policy, especially through two complementary prongs—the so-called Going Global strategy and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This push to internationalize China’s development strategy has ushered in a new era in Beijing’s relationships with countries and regions around the world. In Latin America, these policies have triggered a dynamic pattern of interactions between China and the region’s political economy. Being rich in fuels, energy, foodstuffs, and basic products, countries in Latin America have emerged as significant suppliers for China, but they also have become important destinations for Chinese-made industrial products, and, subsequently, Chinese investment and lending.
For Latin American countries, China’s rise as an influential investor, lender, trader, and builder has created an array of new challenges and opportunities. While Beijing has harnessed its engagement in Latin America to support its own development, countries in the region have sought to direct some of China’s economic and financial resources to promote their own strategic sectors.
Juliana González Jáuregui
Juliana González Jáuregui holds a PhD in the social sciences. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Argentina’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council and a researcher at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO-Argentina), where she leads the Chair on China Studies in the Department of International Relations. Her research focuses on China–Latin America and China-Argentina economic and financial relations.
Argentina illustrates this dynamic well, particularly in the energy sector. Argentinian government officials and business leaders have attracted Chinese investment and finance into renewables and other types of energy to promote Buenos Aires’s goals of taking a hybrid path to an energy transition. For its part, China has seized this opportunity to advance its own development …….