On October 25, 2023, Ambassador Jorge Heine, Research Professor at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies and Interim Director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, detailed the rise of China as a fundamental trade partner for emerging markets and developing economies in Latin America on…
Ambassador Heine discusses his latest book, the resurgence of active non-alignment worldwide, and a new emerging Cold War between the United States and China.
China’s influence in Latin America continues to grow; however, increased trade has been greatly beneficial to the economies of the region. Heine hopes that the APEC meeting will give the impetus to bolster trans-Pacific trade that he says is so badly needed today.
“In Latin America, people want to have better relations with the United States, but their main concern is development, and on that front, China is delivering.”
No new state-to-state loans have been issued from China to Latin America over the past two years. Ambassador Heine offers his thoughts on why China’s strategy has shifted.
“For China, cementing links with South America’s second-largest country is obviously an attractive proposition. China’s growing presence in Latin America does not go down well in Washington.”
“Latin America has to focus on its economic crisis and not on ideological and geopolitical issues that only divide us.”
With Chile joining Ecuador, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina as the fifth Latin American country to join the AIIB, Ambassador Heine argues that perhaps the time has come to leverage that presence into joint projects.
In his chapter, Ambassador Heine tackles issues such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the region, the election of a new president of the Inter-American Development Bank, and the political economy of China-Latin American relations.
Given growing tensions between the United States and China, Ambassador Heine argues that Latin America should go for what he calls the “Active Non Alignment option.”
What are regional perceptions of China’s vaccine-related efforts? Is vaccine access a new area of geopolitical competition between the US and China, or a rare opportunity for constructive collaboration and coordination?
“Trump literally built walls in the region while the Chinese built bridges.”
“Reworking the Ecuador deal in that image is good development policy and good foreign policy that won’t be forgotten in Ecuador. It is also a better way to compete with China.”
“As trade, the original driver of Sino-LAC links, is complemented by foreign direct investment and (diminished) financial cooperation, Chinese commercial banks now step up to the plate to provide more disciplined project financing.”
Ambassador Heine spoke about the history of Chilean-Chinese relations and the new book Chile-China Relations: A Comprehensive Approach.
“If you want to develop and need infrastructure, trade, foreign investment, and China is the No 1 capital exporter in the world, it’s a bit of a no-brainer.”
“There is little doubt that the current tensions affecting the international order will test not only ties between China and Chile, but also those between China and other Latin American countries.”
“Despite the pandemic and United States-China rivalry, trade relations between China and Latin America, particularly with South America, will continue to grow.”
According to Ambassador Heine, China is filling a much needed aid gap in Latin America left by the U.S. and Europe.
Kevin Gallagher’s new OpEd in Americas Quarterly, highlights that China helped shield Latin America from the worst of the 2008-09 financial crisis and asks if it would do so again with COVID-19.