Trade, Investment, Technology, and Training Are China’s Tools to Influence Latin America

CLÁUDIA TREVISAN (COUNCIL ON FOREIIGN RELATIONS, CEBRI)

The dramatic growth in trade and investment relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has not yet translated into a significant expansion of Beijing’s influence over the region’s media and civil society.

Certainly, China has launched many initiatives to increase its clout over journalists, academics, politicians, and policymakers in LAC, a region where the United States historically has wielded the most influence over these opinion leaders. But the results of China’s media, information, and civil society offensive in LAC have been mixed, and Beijing’s prospects for improving its regional soft power are still unclear.

In addition, Beijing has been successful in using fully funded trips to China, scholarships to prestigious Chinese universities, and exchange programs, to directly expose government officials, politicians, academics, journalists, and students from the region to China’s remarkable economic growth, poverty reduction, and innovation, all of which can make a positive impression on visitors.

China’s meteoric rise especially appeals to many in LAC, a developing region marked for decades by poverty, inequality and low growth.