Latin American and Caribbean countries are important members of the developing world, Chinese President Xi Jinping noted in a speech delivered at the seventh Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in January 2023. Today, China is one of Latin and South America’s largest trading partners, second only to the United States. While China’s engagement across the region can be colored by specific domestic considerations, on the whole extensive flows of Chinese trade and investment have given way to greater Chinese influence. Twenty countries in the region have signed on to Xi’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, with plans for cooperation across numerous sectors, including electricity, infrastructure, transportation, telecommunication, and energy. This panel brought together experts to weigh in on how China’s growing presence in Latin and South America is perceived, as well as the opportunities and challenges that arise.
This event was co-sponsored by the Georgetown Americas Institute and the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues at Georgetown University.
Rasheed Griffith is a non-resident senior fellow with the Asia and Latin America Program at the Inter-American Dialogue, where his policy research focuses on China’s geoeconomic and financial engagement with the Caribbean. Griffith is also the co-founder and chief operating officer of Merkle Hedge, a Canadian financial technology and proprietary trading firm focused on high-frequency trading strategies in cryptocurrency markets. He hosts the China in the Americas podcast.
Margaret Myers is the director of the Asia and Latin America Program at the Inter-American Dialogue. She established the dialogue’s China and Latin America Working Group in 2011 to examine China’s growing presence in Latin America and the Caribbean. Myers also developed the China-Latin America Finance Database, the only publicly available source of empirical data on Chinese state lending in Latin America, in cooperation with the Global China Initiative at Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center.
Haibin Niu is senior fellow and director of the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies. Dr. Niu’s research looks at Sino-Latin American relations, Chinese strategy for the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), and how China sees the group’s role in shaping the structure of the future international order.
Eleanor M. Albert (moderator) is a research fellow with the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues and host of its U.S.-China Nexus podcast. She is also a Ph.D. in residence at the Institute for Security and Conflict Studies at the Elliott School at George Washington University, where she is a Ph.D. candidate. Her research focuses on China’s participation and behavior in international institutions and Chinese foreign and domestic policies.