China's presence in Latin America



China captures Latin American markets, combining economic audacity with geopolitical cunning

China did not improvise its widespread landing in Latin America. It conceived a strategic expansion plan codified in two white papers (2008 and 2016). First, it prioritized the signing of Free Trade Agreements with countries linked to its own ocean. Subsequently, he encouraged the articulation of these agreements in the conglomerate of the Pacific Alliance (PA) zone.

This commercial advance was followed by a wave of financing, which in the last decade reached 130 billion dollars in bank loans and 72 billion in company acquisitions. This credit consolidation was supported by a sequence of direct investments, centered on infrastructure works to improve the competitiveness of its supplies.

This huge network of ports, roads and bioceanic corridors makes the acquisition of raw materials and the allocation of industrial surpluses cheaper. Latin America is already the second largest destination for this type of work, which is expanding at a galloping pace. With Chinese support, new bridges are currently being built in Panama and Guyana, subways in Colombia, dredging in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, airports in Ecuador, railways and waterways in Peru and roads in Chile (Fuenzalida, 2022).

Acquisition of companies focuses on the strategic segments of gas, oil, mining and metals. China wants Peru's copper, Bolivia's lithium and Venezuela's oil. The state-owned companies of the new power play a leading role in these fundings. They anticipate or determine the later presence of private companies. The Chinese public sector aligns all the sequences to be followed in each country, according to a plan drawn up by Beijing.

The financial entity of this command (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) provides the necessary funds to increase direct investment rates to record levels in the region. These annual averages jumped from 1,357 billion dollars (2001-2009) to 10,817 billion dollars (2010-2016) and made Latin America the second largest destination for allocations of this type.

China begins to crown its integral economic penetration with the supply of technology. It already disputes the primacy of its 5G equipment, through three emblematic companies (Huawei, Alibaba and Tencent). It negotiates against the clock in each country for the installation of this equipment, clashing with its competitors in the West. It obtained favorable agreements in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Ecuador, while it felt the predisposition of Brazil and Argentina (Lo Brutto; Crivelli, 2019).

geopolitical cunning

China captures Latin America's markets by combining economic audacity with geopolitical cunning. It does not openly confront its US rival, but, in order to close deals, it demands that all of its clients break off diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

This recognition of the “one China” principle is the condition for any commercial or financial agreement with the new power. Through this indirect route, Beijing consolidates its global weight and undermines the traditional submission of Latin American governments to Washington's dictates.

The speed with which China has managed to impose this change is impressive. The influence that Taiwan had managed to maintain until 2007 in Central America and the Caribbean was eroded by Beijing's diplomacy, which returned Panama, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador to its favor. This sequence demolished the representations of Taipei, which only maintained offices in small or secondary countries in the region, after a surprising sequence of ruptures (Regueiro, 2021).

This result is very impressive in a region so sensitive to US interests. The northern giant has always favored the proximity of this area and its importance for world trade. China has penetrated to the heart of Yankee influence, eradicating Taiwanese delegations and becoming the second largest partner in the region.

Beijing established its regional influence after asserting its presence in Panama, breaking Washington's overwhelming hold on the isthmus. A pro-Yankee and avowedly neoliberal government secured business with China, after the dissuasive pressure exerted by the Asian giant with its threat to build an alternative canal in Nicaragua.

The abandonment of this project was followed by the break with Taiwan, the conversion of Panama into the Central American country with the highest Chinese investment and the location chosen for a high-speed train line (Quian; Vaca Narvaja, 2021). These data represent a severe blow to the dominance that the United States has exercised.

Beijing has extended this same strategy to South America and is negotiating with great tenacity the break with Paraguay, which is one of the 15 countries in the world that still recognizes Taiwan. In this case, too, it acts with great patience, gradually occupying more and more space without an open confrontation with Washington. Trade deals are the tempting compromise Beijing offers to pro-US elites. It requires prioritizing economic gains over ideological preferences.

During the pandemic, China added another card to the cocktail of attractions that it makes available to Latin American governments to obtain their preference. In the dramatic scenario that prevailed during the infection, it developed an intelligent mask diplomacy with large offers of vaccines. It provided the sanitary material that the Trump administration refused to its traditional protégés in the hemisphere.

Beijing provided nearly 400 million doses of vaccines and nearly 40 million sanitary ware, when those products were scarce and Washington responded with indifference to requests from its southern neighbors. The contrast between Xi Jin Ping's goodwill and Trump's brutal selfishness added another boost to the rapprochement between Latin America and China.

Business without military support

China concentrates its batteries in the economic sphere, avoiding confrontations in the geopolitical or military sphere. Chose the most favorable battleground for your current profile. Circumnavigate the world of war and bet all your cards on the advancement of war. Silk Road.

Such a direction places the new power on a terrain far removed from the imperial norm, which presupposes the use of extra-economic forces to gain advantages in the struggle for larger portions of the world market.

This departure from traditional imperialism sets China apart from the course taken in the past by other powers. It does not repeat the path of Japan or Germany, which in the last century opted for military confrontation.

China protects its borders, modernizes its troops and increases its military budget at the same pace as its productive development. But it does not use this force all over the world in line with the vertiginous internationalization of its economy. It strictly separates its business from military support, and its investments are not accompanied by military bases, troops or personnel that guarantee the reimbursement of its investments.

Beijing is taking risks to form a new business network that is more autonomous from the old imperialist protection. He hopes that the very globalization of the economy counteracts trends towards displacement and the consequent outcome of confrontation. The viability of this horizon in the medium term is very doubtful, but, in this interregnum, it has created an unprecedented scenario. A power captures huge chunks of the world economy without corresponding military strength. US imperialism has so far not found an answer to this challenge.

China responds with great forcefulness to any threat to its land borders and extends its presence to the country's maritime cordon. It reminds us with great demonstrations of strength that Taiwan is part of its territory. But this military firmness does not extend to other parts of the planet, where the new power has become a dominant investor or main partner. In these regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America, it continues to favor free trade agreements, the acquisition of companies or the simple capture of natural resources.

After several decades of intense expansion, it only installed a military base, in a strategic point in Africa (Djibouti), and was not involved in any armed conflict. It faced armed tensions with India in the 1960s and came into conflict with Vietnam in the Cambodia crisis. But these facts of the past do not reappear in the current defense strategy.

China's behavior in Latin America offers another categorical example of this direction. Beijing knows that Washington is sensitive to any foreign presence in territory it considers its own. For this reason, it is particularly cautious in this region. He avoids interfering in the political sphere and limits himself to gaining positions through fruitful deals. Its only extra-economic demand involves its own interests in reaffirming the “one China” principle, through ruptures with Taiwan.

The uniqueness of this policy stands out when compared with that of Moscow. Although Russia's economic interests in the region are infinitely smaller than those of China, Putin has on several occasions displayed the presence of his troops in joint military exercises with Venezuela. With such actions, he employs a geopolitical logic of reciprocity to deter Washington's aggression on its own Eurasian borders.

This kind of symbolic military presence in an enemy's hemisphere is wholly inconceivable for China. Unlike Russia, it restricts its military action to its own field and rules out any action outside that orbit. This behavior excludes, for the time being, the new eastern power from the imperial circle.

Habitual denunciations, hypocritical questions

White House spokesmen often denounce the imperialist purposes of China's presence in Latin America. They warn against Beijing's expansionism and highlight its intention to re-establish its age-old domination from a new foundation south of the Rio Grande. They emphasize that commercial penetration is the anticipation of a future political and military establishment (Povse, 2022).

Such warnings never include any kind of proof. The agents of US imperialism regard their rival as a colleague who should follow his own lead. But this assumption has so far not been confirmed.

A gigantic gulf separates Chinese expansion from the US imperial pattern. Beijing does not have military bases in Colombia, nor does it maintain a fleet in the Caribbean. Nor does it use its embassies to organize conspiracies. It did not finance Guaidó's plots, the Añez coup d'état, the overthrow of Zelaya, the removal of Aristide or the ousting of Lugo.

Nor does China repeat CIA raids, DEA operations or FBI captures. It does business with all governments, without interfering in domestic politics. The contrast with Washington's brazen interventionism is stark.

These elementary contrasts are omitted in the presentation of China as a power resuming its former imperial ambitions. Whistleblowers make up for their lack of data with warnings of future events. They recognize that their rival does not have military bases in the region, but they announce their soon installation. They accept that the economy is their competitor's main instrument, but warn against the colonial effects of this modality. They confirm China's respect for Latin American sovereignty, but announce the imminent violation of this principle.

Some exponents of these inconsistencies claim that Chinese domination will erupt through culture, language or customs (Urbano, 2021). But they do not explain how this abrupt displacement of Western predominance in Latin American social life would take place. They also hide the opposite nightmare of a century of racial prejudice against Asian minorities in the region.

The campaign against Chinese “neocolonialism” spread by a US air force publication is particularly ridiculous (Urbano, 2021). It omits its expertise in bombing civilian populations on several continents. It is enough to observe the list of these incursions to notice Washington's hypocrisy. Since the end of World War II, the United States has carried out attacks against Korea and China (1950-53), Guatemala (1954, 1960), Indonesia (1958), Cuba (1959-1961), Congo (1964 ), Laos (1964-1973), Vietnam (1961-1973), Cambodia (1969-1970), Grenada (1983), Lebanon (1983, 1984), Libya (1986, 2011, 2015), El Salvador (1980), Nicaragua (1980), Iran (1987), Panama (1989), Iraq (1991, 2003, 2015), Kuwait (1991), Somalia (1993, 2007-2008, 2011), Bosnia (1994, 1995), Sudan (1998 ), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-2015), Yugoslavia (1999), Yemen (2002, 2009, 2011), Pakistan (2007-2015) and Syria (2014-2015).

China's whistleblowers overlook this atrocious sequence to highlight the malign effects of Beijing's “debt diplomacy”. They consider that their rival will use this instrument to subdue the region's insolvent economies.

In fact, there is this danger, but its enunciation lacks credibility in the mouths of specialists in demanding responsibility for intrusions of Marines and IMF adjustments. What is seen as a threat from China has been standard practice in the United States for the past two centuries.

The imperialist critics of the Asian presence also do not omit the reiterated opposition between the democracy promoted by Washington and the authoritarianism encouraged by Beijing. But the spread of this myth collides with the record of dictatorships conceived by the State Department in the region.

Other White House spokesmen evade the praise for the United States in their denunciations of the Chinese presence. The duplicity of this counterpoint is so false that they prefer to avoid it. They limit themselves to warning about the advance of their rival, with simple appeals to contain this expansion. Some believe that the first power has already lost its dominance of Africa and must prioritize the conservation of Latin America (Donoso, 2022).

These confessions illustrate the degree of imperial regression that a part of the US elite is witnessing. They observe more realistically the strategic loss of positions in their own continent, without finding recipes to reverse this retraction.

No aggression, but to the detriment of the region

The erroneous denunciation of China as a power similar to the United States is sometimes based on the trivialization of the concept of imperialism. In order to pique the reader's interest, any commercial or financial advance by Beijing is typified in these terms. The notion is presented as a synonym for vileness, without any concern for its conceptual assumptions.

This view tends to confuse economic dependence, which is generated by the unfavorable agreements signed by Latin America with the Asian giant, with imperial political oppression. Both processes maintain potential links, but can develop along separate routes, and it is important to record the moments when the two paths intersect or diverge.

Imperialism presupposes the explicit or implicit use of force to guarantee the supremacy of the companies of an oppressive power in the territory of a dominated economy. There is abundant evidence of this type of aggression on the part of the United States, but so far there is no evidence of these abuses on the part of China. This difference is confirmed in all Latin American countries.

Foreign military action is a typical imperial act that China shy away from. As long as it remains distant from it, it will continue to operate below the imperialist threshold. There is no doubt that its expansion in the world (and its consequent transformation into a dominant power) will open up a serious temptation to become an oppressive force. But this eventuality constitutes until now a possibility, an omen or a calculation and not a verifiable reality. As long as it is not verified in the facts, it is inappropriate to place China in the ranks of empires.

Such a passage to status explicit imperialism will depend on the scale achieved by Chinese capitalism. Over the past two centuries, military incursions by large states abroad to aid their capitalist partners have been very frequent. But this current dynamic in China would require a major consolidation of the ruling class, with its consequent ability to guarantee military bailouts to the rulers in Beijing.

This sequence was very common in Europe, the United States and Japan. But China still does not face this type of scenario, as the dominant political regime comes from a socialist experience, maintains hybrid characteristics and has not yet completed its transition to capitalism. For this reason, the typical actions of imperialist interventionism are not observed.

The ultimate consolidation of capitalism within China and its imperialist counterpart abroad are limited by two factors. On the one hand, the omnipresence of the public sector (central, provincial and municipal) at 40% of the gross product (Mendoza, 2021); and, on the other hand, the institutional leadership of the Communist Party. There is already a very powerful and established ruling class, but one that does not control the instruments of the state and has limited possibilities to demand interventions for its own benefit.

The impressive expansion of GDP – which increased 86 times between 1978 and 2020 and lifted 800 million people out of poverty – has a contradictory effect on this evolution. On the one hand, it gave rise to a capitalist circuit that guarantees the interests of a privileged minority. On the other hand, it consolidated an unprecedented incidence of state intervention, which reinforces the counterweight of popular majorities to the perpetuation of profit and exploitation. This originality of China's development makes it necessary to treat predictions about the future of a hybrid economy, subject to regulatory management by the State, with great caution.

An indispensable differentiation

Equating China with the United States is also a frequent mistake made by some left-wing analysts. They usually attribute to the two powers a status similar to that of the imperial states, which dispute the booty of the periphery on the same terms.

A variant of this view considers that China was socialist in the past, then adopted a capitalist profile and is currently maturing its imperialist conversion. Consider that this new status it is verified in its passage from an economy that exports goods to one that invests capital. He believes that this change has driven the strengthening of “soft power”, which complements the development of its military strength. Free trade agreements and the Silk Road they are seen as oppressive instruments, similar to those forged by the United States (Laufer, 2019).

This vision confuses the relations of domination that Washington maintains throughout its “backyard” with the dependence network that China has created in the region. In the first case, economic gains are based on geopolitical-military control, which is absent in the second framework.

This difference is omitted or relativized, stating that China is developing in record time what the United States built after a long century. But if Beijing has not yet constituted this tangle of power, neither should it be classified as an existing imperial force. If this structure is being erected, it is also possible that it will never be completed. Imperialism is not an established concept in the universe of hypotheses.

The equalization of Sino-US rivalry restricts the evidence of this struggle to the economic sphere. For this reason, he observes this dispute as an intercapitalist competition between two powers of the same sign. This vision emphasizes formal analogies, without noticing the different behavior of the two competitors.

China's investments in mining, agriculture and fuels have many points of contact with the extractive corridors of IIRSA [Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America], which the United States has promoted for decades. However, in the first case, the management of this infrastructure depends on the companies and national states that signed these contracts. The military, judicial, political and media apparatus that the United States maintains throughout the continent to ensure its business does not operate there.

There is no doubt that, given both situations, policies to protect common goods should be promoted in order to strengthen regional integration processes that allow the use of these resources in a productive way. On this corollary, there are no significant divergences in the Latin American left. The discrepancy lies in how sovereign political processes should be positioned in relation to the US dominator and the Chinese financier, customer or investor. The equal treatment of both cases obstructs the effective battle for regional unity.

The same problem is generated by the lack of knowledge of the conflicts that oppose the two powers, assuming that the large companies of the two countries participate in the same undistinguished transnational capital. This perspective reveals a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship between the two giants.

But so-called transnational capital only refers to mixtures of funds coming from different countries. This limited variety of companies does not replace the protagonist companies of current capitalism, nor does it reduce the preeminence of highly differentiated national States in the management of the instruments of the economy. Not even at the height of globalization was there a general fusion of these capitals, and dominant classes or transnationalized states never emerged (Katz, 2011: 205-219).       

Proponents of this approach have lost the clout they had over the past decade, and the problems with their vision have surfaced in the erroneous thesis of a Chinese-US merger. The expectation of such a convergence was completely demolished by the current scenario of rivalry. This competition is also reflected in the new scenario of two positions on free trade agreements.

In the 1990s, the flag of duty-free trade was mainly raised by the United States. This emblem later spread in a more limited way to Europe and Japan, but it underwent a complete mutation when China adopted it as its grand flag. The Davos free trade summit has become an arena of widespread praise for Beijing, and Washington has lost its compass. He was trapped in a lack of definition that persists to this day (Santos; Cernadas, 2022).

Protectionist and globalist currents are waging a struggle within the United States that paralyzes the White House. This shock led to the impotence of Barack Obama, the reluctance of Donald Trump and the vacillations of Joe Biden. Because of this sequence, free trade agreements have become a hot potato that no Yankee president can manage. While China has a very clear purpose in promoting these agreements, its rival is teetering on the heels of major internal conflicts.

Crossroads with China

Pointing out the substantial differences that separate China from the United States does not mean ignoring the departure from the socialist perspective, which implies the re-establishment of a capitalist class in the Asian giant. Criticizing this regression is essential to strengthen the battle being waged in that country against the definitive restoration of capitalism.

It is essential to clarify such a confrontation, before this process leads to an irreversible fait accompli. The main mistake made by a large part of the left vis-à-vis the USSR was silence in the face of a similar threat. This passivity destroyed all attempts to renew socialism.

The presentation of China – by different authors – as the epicenter of the current socialist project reproduces this error. This vision is not limited to highlighting the indisputable economic and social progress achieved by the new power. He considers that the course followed by the Asian giant is the path to be followed by the socialism of the new century.

Such assessments recall the writings of official communism, which in the last century praised the advances of the USSR without any critical observation. The vertiginous collapse of this system has left worshipers of this regime speechless.

China is on a very different path than the Soviet Union. Its leaders became aware of what happened to their neighbor and in each decision they assess the danger of this repetition. But the best external contribution to such alerts is to point out the disjunctures facing the new power. Instead of copying what happened in the USSR or moving towards a mere updating of socialism, China faces a constant disjuncture between this renewal and the return to capitalism.

This dispute is present in every step taken by the Asian giant, since a bourgeois class was reconstituted that accumulates capital, extracts surplus value, controls companies and seeks to conquer political power. The instruments of this system remain in the hands of the Communist Party and an elite that maintains the balance between growth and social improvements. These counterweights would be broken if the capitalists extended their economic role to control the political system.

The renewal of socialism is just one possibility among several alternatives at stake, which will largely depend on the centrality obtained by the left currents. This perspective requires income redistribution policies, reduction of inequalities and drastic limitations on the enrichment of the new millionaires of the East (Katz, 2020).

In order to recover a socialist project on a global scale, it is necessary to analyze these tensions, taking sides with the revolutionary tendencies and avoiding the simple repetition of the protocol discourses of officialdom.

Transparency about the tensions that China faces – at the crossroads between the socialist and capitalist leaderships – is also essential to define strategies in the regions that strengthen commercial ties with China. If one simply assumes that Beijing embodies the contemporary dynamics of socialism, then it would only be necessary to reinforce the current terms of the relationship with this beacon of post-capitalism.

This policy would be similar to the strategy followed by a large part of the left in relation to the USSR, which was seen as the great pillar of the socialist bloc. Contrary to this antecedent, China avoids pronouncements and political affinities with the different regimes of the planet. It exalts only trade, investment and business with neoliberal, heterodox, progressive or reactionary governments. This not only contradicts the simple presentation of Beijing as the main reference point of socialism, but also leads to the consideration of strategies that do not converge with China's foreign policy.

The dilemmas posed by the Free Trade Agreements and the Silk Road exemplify these disjunctives. Both projects include the dual content of the Asian giant's global productive expansion and the enrichment of Chinese capitalists. The balance between the two processes is determined by the state direction of the agreements and the transport network.

It is very difficult to argue that, in their current format, these initiatives strengthen a socialist horizon for the world. The currents of the Chinese left are opposed to this belief in their country and the questions are more frontal in most of the periphery. Latin America offers an example of this inconvenience.

All the treaties promoted by China increase economic subordination and dependency. The Asian giant has consolidated its status of a creditor economy, which profits from unequal exchange, captures surpluses and appropriates income.

China does not act as an imperial dominator, but neither does it favor Latin America. Current agreements exacerbate the primarization and draining of surplus value. The new power is not just a partner, nor is it part of the Global South. Its external expansion is guided by profit-maximizing principles rather than by norms of cooperation.

Beijing shapes agreements with each country in the region according to its own convenience. In Peru and Venezuela, it created partnerships with state-owned companies. In Argentina and Brazil, it opted for the purchase of established companies. In Peru, it has become a major player in the energy and mining sectors. It controls 25% of copper, 100% of iron ore and 30% of oil. This flexibility of treaties with each country is determined in China by rigorous profit calculations.

Latin America needs its own strategy to resume its development and create the foundations for a socialist leadership. These pillars may be in tune, but they do not spontaneously converge with China's foreign policy. The Asian giant is a potential partner in this development, but not a natural ally, and it is essential to record these differences by looking at what has happened in other parts of the world.

Lessons from the RCEP

China is advancing in different parts of the world, reinforcing the centrality of its own economy at the expense of its US rival. This double movement could strengthen the development of the periphery if it contemplated agreements in line with this development and not mere profits for the local capitalists associated with the Asian giant. Only the first type of link would support a common emancipatory project.

China's strategy in its regional environment is not guided by these principles. It generates advances and successes that reinforce its influence, but without visible ties with future socialists.

The recent RCEP [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership] agreement is an example of this divorce. China has signed a free trade agreement with almost all countries in the Indo-Pacific. This treaty includes not only Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, but also several US allies (Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand).

China secured this agreement after a fulminating offensive. First, it dismantled Obama's failed project for the region (TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership]), which Japan tried to amend with a replacement treaty (CPTPP [Global and Progressive Agreement for a Trans-Pacific Partnership]). Then it contained Trump's protectionist turn (Pérez Llana, 2022) and finally reduced the space for Joe Biden's recent trade initiative (IPEF [Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity]) (Aróstica, 2022).

Beijing has knocked down, one after another, all the obstacles that Washington has tried to erect to contain its economic primacy in this strategic area. He took advantage of the enormous disagreements that generate Free Trade Agreements in the establishment American government and the manifest impotence of the White House partners. It especially neutralized Japan, which acts towards China in the same way as Germany towards Russia. Tokyo seeks to act autonomously in relation to the US principal, but aligns itself with the West at the slightest twitch of its ear (Ledger, 2022).

The same occurs with Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, which were summoned by the Pentagon to sign a military treaty (QUAD [Quadrilateral Security Dialogue]), which contradicts their approach to Beijing. The Taiwan conflict and the demands for free navigation in the China Sea were revived by the White House precisely to undermine the gains made by China with the RCEP. Biden's makeshift deal (IPEF) is just a complement to this military pressure.

At the moment, India is the only major country that maintains a position of real autonomy in relation to the two big competitors. Its old rivalry with China led it to reject the RCEP, the Free Trade Agreements and the Silk Road to bet on its own project of economic development. It joined the US QUAD to counterbalance Pakistan's new affinity with China. Its last governments opted for a pro-Western turn, which also preserves its own geopolitical direction.

Indonesia and Malaysia, which led the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] bloc, also evolved towards a posture of greater autonomy, refusing to join the QUAD. But they were unable to contain Chinese commercial pressure, which led to their integration into RCEP (Serbin, 2021). Beijing imposed the transformation of bilateral agreements into multilateral ones, the dismantling of the customs union and the dissolution of all steps towards the creation of an ASEAN currency.

This result could be seen with South American eyes, as an anticipation of what will happen to MERCOSUR if the Free Trade Agreements with China continue to advance in their current format. A variant of RCEP in the region could bury the integration projects being outlined in Latin America.

What happened in the Indo-Pacific is instructive for our region. There, one verifies more clearly the economic advance of China and the geopolitical-military response of the United States. The same trends emerge in Latin America, with the difference that Washington does not tolerate in its “backyard” the moves that Beijing makes with greater audacity in its border zone.

But the most important thing is not to assess who wins the game in each region, but which policies are favorable to the people of the periphery. These guidelines require strategies for resisting Washington and negotiating with Beijing.

Other types of agreements

China competes with companies unaffected by military pressure, as opposed to a rival that prioritizes military deployment to shore up its struggling companies. This difference does not transform the Asian dragon into a power that collaborates with Latin America, which exalts diplomatic phraseology.

Praises for “South-South cooperation”, through agreements that would allow “all to win” through “mutual learning” (Quian; Vaca Narvaja, 2021), are understandable in the codes of the ministries of foreign affairs. But these figures do not shed light on the reality of the Sino-Latin American scenario.

Many analysts repeat these assessments out of admiration for the development achieved by China or out of a desire for contagion through mere association with the new giant. With this perspective, they feed all the beliefs in a mutually favorable cooperation, which is not verified in the current relations.

The recognition of this absence is the starting point for the promotion of other types of agreements that strengthen Latin American development, along with the popular goal of a future of increasing social equality. This objective also requires a theoretical battle against neoliberalism.

*Claudio Katz is professor of economics at Universidad Buenos Aires. Author, among other books, of Neoliberalism, neodevelopmentalism, socialism (Popular Expression).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.


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