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Evan ELLIS

The Expanding Chinese Footprint in Latin America - New Challenges for China, and Dilemmas for the US

Asie.Visions 49, February 2012

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The physical presence of China in Latin America is entering a phase of significant expansion, as the logical consequence of the rapid growth over the past decade of its trade, investment, and infrastructure for doing business in the region. The new Chinese physical presence in Latin America is focused in five areas, each with its own dynamics and consequences: (1) leaders visits, business delegations, students and other official groups, (2) construction and infrastructure projects, (3) extractive industry investments and associated service companies, (4) retail and manufacturing, and (5) tourism. The growing Chinese physical presence will generate challenges which will make it increasingly difficult for the PRC to maintain, in fact, its policy of non-interference in the internal politics of the region.
The PRC is likely to employ its growing understanding of, and sources of leverage in Latin America to protect its increasingly important interests in the region, while simultaneously attempting to avoid that its actions to defend its interests are seen in threatening terms by the United States or other strategically important partners.

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