Paper Tiger or Pacing Threat?

China’s Security and Defense Engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean

Audio Brief

A short, spoken-word summary from CSIS’s Ryan Berg on his report with Henry Ziemer, Paper Tiger of Pacing Threat?: China’s Security and Defense Engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Audio file

China has long couched its engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean in primarily economic terms. However, China is becoming increasingly strident in its efforts to bolster defense and security initiatives in the Western Hemisphere. Chinese defense and security engagements manifest along a spectrum, including dual-use civilian and military infrastructure projects, public safety assistance, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, arms sales, and joint military-to-military exchanges and trainings. An expanded military and security presence in the hemisphere poses significant concerns for the United States in the event of a potential conflict or crisis, imperils regional stability by empowering criminal regimes in the hemisphere, and risks eroding democratic norms within regional militaries and police forces.  

Taken together, these trendlines place the United States at an inflection point—it remains a preferred security partner for most countries in the hemisphere but must act now to preserve this status, lest it slip at a precarious moment.  

This report was made possible by generous support from the Smith Richardson Foundation.