The Future of Latin America and the Caribbean in the Context of the Rise of China
There are numerous analyses about China and its future, as well as about Chinese engagement with Latin America. This report examines, in detail, how the growth of China, with its power and role in the global economy, is likely to transform Latin America and the Caribbean through economic, political, and other forms of engagement with the region. The report considers multiple scenarios regarding the future of China, the resolution of its security challenges, and possible departures from its current trajectory. It focuses primarily on the question of what Latin America and the Caribbean will look like if China succeeds in its ongoing economic and political engagement in the region.
Compared to scenario-oriented analyses, this report does not attempt to predict the detailed political ebbs and flows of the region. Instead, it examines economic sectors to understand how the region will be transformed through its intimate economic relationship with China and its part in a global process in which Chinese companies continue to expand their presence in the region. While the report also looks at military issues and the likely evolution of Latin America’s relationship with the United States, it finds equally dramatic implications for China’s willingness to use its soft power in the region.
While this report does not claim that China has nefarious objectives to politically dominate the region, or usurp the United States as a superpower, it does find evidence that the logical extension of China’s current expansion plans threatens to relegate the region to a future of limited economic opportunity and personal liberty. This is seen in China’s actions to pursue its development interests, dominate the most lucrative parts of global value chains, and expand China’s power with a questionable level of respect for Western concepts of universal laws, rights, and freedoms. As China continues in the pursuit of these goals, compromised elites serve the transfer of wealth and resources from the Latin American region and other "Belt and Road" region to the new imperial center.
R. Evan Ellis is senior associate (non-resident) with the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
This report is made possible by general support to CSIS. No direct sponsorship contributed to this report.